Waterfall beauty spot in Yorkshire Dales transformed for welcome of Tour de France

Middle falls waterfalls near Cray, North Yorkshire. Technical details, shot on a Nikon D3s camera with 28-70mm lens and exposure of 500th at f8, 400ISO. Picture Tony Johnson.
Middle falls waterfalls near Cray, North Yorkshire. Technical details, shot on a Nikon D3s camera with 28-70mm lens and exposure of 500th at f8, 400ISO. Picture Tony Johnson.

It was thrust into the spotlight, gaining worldwide attention, when Tour de France riders passed through five years ago to a cheering crowd. But on a typical day, the small hamlet of Cray is a serene haven of luscious greenery, nestled in the Yorkshire Dales hillside.

Aside from The White Lion Inn, a former drovers hostelry set in the surroundings of Upper Wharfedale, it is most renowned for its collection of waterfalls. In fact its sloping hill land is festooned in the tumbling spectaculars, like the ‘middle falls’ pictured here, as streams make their way to the River Wharfe to empty their waters.

As the National Trust sets out in its description of Upper Wharfedale: “Waterfalls suddenly appear where before there were none and the river becomes a raging foaming torrent.”

The “best and easiest” place to see waterfalls is from the road above Cray, it adds. “If you look carefully, you will find them hidden away in all kinds of secret places. Sometimes you will find water bursting out of the ground from caves.”

The North Yorkshire hamlet, which is popular with walkers, attracted riders and spectators when it played host to part of the Tour de France in 2014. On July 5, stage one of the race, from Leeds to Harrogate, passed through.

Crowds lined the route to cheer on cyclists as, 68km in, they tackled the Cote de Cray - one of three climbs on the first leg of the tour. As The Yorkshire Post reported at the time: “Cote de Cray looked resplendent in full Tour regalia, with the roadside packed with spectators who made the first day in the Yorkshire Dales look like the Pyrenees in week three.”

It was certainly quite the spectacle with waving flags, clapping hands and chalk messages of support written on the road as people roared the peloton through. The buzz may have faded as, afterwards, Cray and the climb reverted back to its calm normality, but the parish of Buckden, in which the hamlet sits, will treasure the honour of hosting the world’ most famous cycle race, for many years to come.

Technical details: Shot on a Nikon D3s camera with 28-70mm lens and exposure of 500th at f8, 400ISO.