Turner visited West Burton on 28 July as part of his 1816 grand tour of Yorkshire, having stayed the previous night at the Green Dragon Inn in Hardrow.
West Burton is a lovely Dales’ village, characterised by its packhorse bridges, a large village green, market cross, stocks and the charming Walden Beck, with nearby waterfalls and pools.
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Turner’s main subject was the picturesque waterfall, of which he made a beautiful pencil sketch (Fall at West Burton, ‘Yorkshire 4’ sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLVII 9) and was clearly intending a finished watercolour of the same subject. The site is remarkably unchanged today and the accuracy of Turner’s drawing can be readily appreciated.
The sketch also indicates that he understood something of the early science of geology. The waterfall takes its form from limestone knitted together by wavy horizontal joints (called stylobates). The fact that the beds are nearly horizontal allows the water to fan out in a transparent veil and Turner indicates both cause and effect by showing the wavy bedding joints through the transparent film of water.
Discover The Landscape
The Turner Trails bench is at the lower end of the village behind the old mill. It overlooks the beck which runs away from the waterfall.
Download a choice of two walking trails to explore these waterfalls that Turner sketched on either a 6 mile moderate trail or a 12 mile linear trail for experienced walkers.
Download our themed leaflet and let the rivers and waterfalls guide you around Turner’s Yorkshire as water literally flows through many of his sketches and paintings.
Download this Trail – Aysgarth Falls & West Burton Falls
West Burton, North Yorkshire, DL8 4UW
Map reference: SE020867View on map
Directions to West Burton Falls:
Leave the A684 Leyburn-Hawes road at the turning for the B6160/Ellers Lane to West Burton. The Falls are accessed easily from the footpath leading off from behind the old Mill. Upon entering the village, bear left where the road swings round to the right onto the village green. The Mill is a few yards further on the left.