A grand vision for future of Elgar’s waterfall

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THE RHYTHMIC roar of Catrigg Force has dazzled visitors for centuries and provided backing music for some of the greatest scores ever composed in England.

Edward Elgar used to love this secluded spot in the Yorkshire Dales.

And the waterfall and its surrounding countryside are said to have inspired some of his most famous works, including the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches.

But the power of Catrigg Force could now about to be put to a very different use.

The waterfall, near Stainforth, and two-and-a-half acres of surrounding woodland, has been put up for sale for £35,000, with its potential to generate hydro-electric power being stressed to prospective buyers.

According to current owner Andrew Hennessey, who bought the plot a year ago for its hydro-electric potential but is now passing it up to concentrate on other projects, it could generate £1,000 of power a day.

“When I saw it advertised last time, not only was it stunning but I realised it had a massive potential,” the married father-of-four said.

“A water engineer told me with the 22 metre fall from the waterfall and the fact that it is obviously going 24/7, 365 days a year, it could generate £1,000 a day in terms of electricity.

“I am giving it up to concentrate on other things but I would love to see someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and the infrastructure to do it come and harness this lovely area’s power.

“They would need to get permission but it would be a stunning tourist attraction and also a great help to the environment.”

If a buyer was found, they would follow in the footsteps of a number of community hydro projects recently launched in the national park, as a renewable-energy revolution has led many in the Yorkshire Dales to generate power the way their predecessors did more than a century ago.

The £450,000 River Bain Hydro scheme, which is owned and run by members of the community around Bainbridge, became operational earlier this summer, providing energy for 50 households and saving 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

And the award-winning Settle Hydro, Yorkshire’s first community hydro project which now has 166 individual shareholders and three directors, has generated more than 1,000KW of energy this year.

Ann Harding, one of the directors of Settle Hydro, said: “This would be a fantastic opportunity for someone to create more renewable energy in the Dales.

“There has been a definite move forward in recent years where people are now saying these things do now have the potential to provide electricity.

“We have been up and running for 18 months and have just had some of our best weeks ever.

“There is huge potential for hydro-electric power in the Dales, but also potential for conflict between the people who want to produce hydro-electric power and people who want to preserve it for visitors.

“What people need to understand is hydro-electric power on a small scale doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the landscape.

“At Catrigg Force you could build a very small plant that was all underground and all you would need above ground was a little power box.

“It is a great possibility, if everything was in place, if the planning permission was there and the right group of people wanted to do it.”

Despite its poor transport links – the new owner of the secluded waterfall would find it is best accessed by horse, foot or mountain bike – the estate agents marketing the plot have deemed it “priceless” owing to its connection with the past and potential for the future.

Brian Carlisle, of JR Hopper and Co estate agency, said: “For £35,000, the buyer would get the most beautiful piece of Yorkshire Dales countryside.

“We have had people wanting it for nostalgic purposes or wanting to buy it as the ultimate gift.

“But there’s no property there so no concept of what it’s worth. We told one man who was walking nearby it was for sale and asked him what he thought it was [going] for.

“He said £2m, showing that in essence this piece of land is priceless.

“The historic connection with Elgar just adds to the long list of reasons why someone may want to be buy this plot.

“There are very few places in the world that have such magnificence to them.

“Water has been flowing over Catrigg Force long before it was even named and will continue to do so for millennia.”

About 15 Yorkshire Dales sites have been identified in a recent feasibility study as having the most potential for water hydro electric schemes, including Meal Bank at Ingleton, Rash Mill, Clapham and Hardraw Beck near Hawes.