Malham, Cove and Tarn.

Start. Malham.

Route. Malham - Cove Road - Malham Cove - Watlowes - Dean Moor - Water Sinks - Malham Tarn - Street Gate - New Close - New Close Knotts - Gordale Bridge - Janet's Foss - New Laithe - Mires Barn - Malham.

Notes. There has been a settlement at Malham for at least 1,000years, traces of Iron age field systems and boundaries can still be seen, a hundred years ago it was a place of mills and mines, now farming and tourism bring wealth to the village. Nestled amongst classic limestone scenery of cliffs, crags, and scars it's easy to see the attraction, come for a ramble with us through some of the most beautiful limestone scenery in the Dales.

Under cotton wool skies we wandered through the village, the appropriate named Cove Road guided us to the foot-path leading to Malham Cove, no useful finger-post needed the cove dominates the scene. A huge curving amphitheatre of limestone rock, the vertical face being around 260 feet high, the top adorned by a large area of limestone pavement, cut by glacial melt-water at the end of the last ice age, a waterfall to rival Niagara once spilled over the cliff. Many steps guided us into spectacular views from the top of the cove, we sat, drank them in before continuing to Malham Tarn.

Through Watlowes we wandered, a dry valley carved by a mighty river of glacial melt water spilling from Malham Tarn, the valley contains plenty of spectacular limestone features and exposed rock. After ascending the dry water fall at Comb Scar we emerged at Malham Tarn. An enigma in limestone country as water usually seeps underground. At 1,237ft above sea level Malham Tarn can claim fame to being the highest lake in England, one of only eight alkaline lakes in Europe, and inspiration for Charles Kingsley's 1863 fairytale The Water Babies.

We left the tarn via the access lane to Malham Tarn House. Street Gate marks the start of an ancient monastic highway christened Mastiles Lane, next to the gate a stile allowed admission to New Close, we crossed said stile. With a wonderful green trod under foot we wandered through vast sheep pastures bordered by limestone scars, when the path plunged into Gordale, not fancying a scramble down the waterfall we followed the rim of the cliffs onto New Close Knotts, a real spectacular section of path, if you've a head for heights, a good path then guided us down a grassy scarp depositing us at Gordale Bridge.

From Gordale Bridge it was a short walk over tarmac to a finger-post announcing we'd reached the path to Malham, we stepped into woodland to be greeted by a spectacular waterfall, Janet's Foss, home to Janet Queen of the Fairies, once used by farmers as a sheep dip, it's a lovely spot. We continued through a sylvan gorge, dappled light dancing across moss and lichen covered limestone boulders and fallen trees, the song of Gordale Beck accompanied our every step. We emerged into green pastures, a paved path then guided us passed a number of field barns back to the delights of Malham.

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Passed at the beginning of the day, Malham Smithy.

The limestone cliffs of Malham Cove.

Above the cove drinking in wonderful views over Malhamdale.

Limestone scenery above the vast ark of Malham Cove.

Looking towards Watlows from the limestone pavements above Malham Cove.

Above Malham Cove lies a deep limestone canyon which is known as Watlowes Valley. Whatever underground route the streams of Malham Moor may now take, Watlowes Valley was almost certainly carved out by the glacial overspill from Malham Tarn flowing to what was once England's highest waterfall at Malham Cove. Now the valley is dry, and contains some most impressive limestone features, with plenty of exposed and weathered rock.

The dry waterfall at Comb Scar.

Watlowes as seen from above the dry waterfall on Comb Scar.

Great Close Hill seen from near the Water Sinks on the edge of Dean Moor.

On the north shore of Malham Tarn, in the shadow of Highfolds Scar stands a Georgian country house, Malham Tarn House.

Malham Tarn with dappled light on Fountains Fell.

Fountains Fell over Malham Tarn.

Great Close Hill as seen from the drive to Malham Tarn House.

Limestone scenery in New Close Pasture.

Sue soaks up the views above Gordale.

A wonderful slice of limestone scenery, the cliffs of Gordale capture the afternoon sun.

Gordale seen from the edge of New Close Knotts.

Looking down on Gordale Scar, it looks big from up here on the edge of New Close Knotts, but to really appreciate it you have to walk into the shadow of those overhanging cliffs.

Guarding the entrance to Gordale, Cross Field Knotts.

In sunlight and shade the Iron age field systems on Cawden.

Tumbling into a wonderful sylvan gorge, Jannet's Foss, as we know home to Jannet Queen of the Fairies.

From the edge of Malham village, towering above the tree line, Malham Cove.

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