The Formation of Hardraw Scar Waterfall
Watercolour by Gordon Home circa 1900
Sediments emanating from glacial meltwater during its retreat form what are know as drift tails. One of these elongated mounds of unconsolidated rock, sand and clay, diverted Fossdale Gill and Hearne Beck (flowing down from Shunner Fell) eastwards to form Hardraw Scar waterfall where the stream finds its way round the east end of the drift tail, tumbling some 100 feet over a limestone crag.
It is estimated that the waterfall at Hardraw was formed some 15 thousand years ago towards the end of the last ice-age.
Due to the favourable structure and an abundant water supply, Hardraw waterfall began retreating upstream rapidly leaving a gorge behind it.
The gorge below Hardraw is presently about 300 metres long, giving a mean rate of retreat of two centimetres per year. The progress of gorge formation would be sporadic in nature, comprising long periods of slow under cutting of the shale layers, followed by the collapse of large blocks of erosion resistant limestone and sandstone layers.