The Delights of Malham (Come Wind and Rain).

Start. Malham.

Route. Malham - Malham Beck - Mires Barn - Mantley Field - Wedber Wood - Janet's Foss - Gordale Lane - Gordale Bridge - Gordale Scar - Gordale Lane - Gordale Bridge - New Close Knotts - New Close - Street Gate - Malham Tarn - Tarn Foot - Water Sinks - Comb - Waterlows - Malham Cove - Cove Road - Malham.

Notes. One hundred years ago a place of Mills and Mines, today a place of farms and tourism, they come by the coach load to visit the majesty of Malham Cove, an arching amphitheatre of limestone rock 250ft high. Us humble walkers also get the chance to visit Gordale Scar a vast ravine complete with waterfall, not to forget Malham Tarn nestled in a hollow 1,237ft above sea level, an enigma in limestone country as water usually seeps underground, as is evident at Water Sinks guarding the head of a dry valley passed on my return route. I opted for Malham as the weather in the limestone Dales is usually better than my revered Lake District. Well as I was in the Dales getting water in every crevice I can't tell you if the weather was any better in the Lakes, the way my luck goes it probably was.

To the affairs of the day, trussed up like a Christmas turkey, only in gortex not foil I forded Malham Beck at a quaint little stone clapper bridge behind the smithy in Cove Road. A good path then guided me south swinging sharp left at Mires Barn. It was a short wet walk to the cover of Wedber Wood home to a stunning water fall behind which lives Janet Queen of the Fairies.

From Janet's Foss the path lead to Gordale Lane, the moment I stepped into the confines of the lane Gordale Scar dominated the view. After crossing Gordale Bridge an obvious path lead between massive walls of limestone, cliffs funneling me to the main event. The overhanging crags of Gordale Scar embraced me as I entered the confines of the ravine, the whole scene is humbling especially as today I had it all to myself. On a drier day with not so much water thundering down from the high valley I'd ascend the waterfall, not wanting wet feet or worse I chickened out beating a retreat to Gordale Bridge.

From Gordale Bridge I followed a path signed Malham Cove. At that moment the massive cliffs of Malham Cove were the last thing on my mind, my interest lay in a narrow path ascending the steep slopes of New Close Knotts just across a sheep pasture to my right, once clear of the dry stone wall I traversed the field before attacking the hill. New Close Knotts welcomed me with heavy rain backed by a strong wind blowing directly in my face, the next two miles were head down and hood up tightly fastened against the elements.

Between limestone scars I battled, passed ancient settlements, Bronze Age and Iron Age. I traversed New Close a large limestone pasture containing a squat hill site of a tumulus (burial cairn or mound), I didn't go exploring. The path terminated at a stile next to Street Gate, I left the field to join the track leading to Malham Tarn House. It was nice to have something solid under foot, alas on reaching a small copse I left the track, wandered over wet ground to make my acquaintance with Malham Tarn.

After following the shore line to Tarn Head I stepped onto tarmac, turned right then almost immediately left onto a path signed Malham Cove. This path, part of the Pennine Way ushered me passed Water Sinks into a dry valley. Through stunning limestone scenery I picked my way, the valley eventually spat me out above Malham Cove. Unfortunately the limestone scars above the cove were far to slippery to set foot on, I gingerly made my way to the west edge of the scar to access a set of limestone steps, which in turn deposited me in Malhamdale in the shadow of the impressive cove. All that remained to follow the well trod path, the path hundreds of visitors use every year on their day trips to this wonderful corner of the Yorkshire Dales.

view route map.


En Route to Janet's Foss looking back to Mires Barn.

Home to Janet Queen of the Fairies, Janet's Foss.

In the confines of Gordale Scar....

....on a dry day I'd ascend the waterfall, straight up the middle, but today the water's deep and fast flowing, the stone's slippery as hell and who knows what awaits me at the top of the first pitch, as I have to cross the beck.

The overhanging cliffs of Gordale Scar looking to New Close Knotts.

Ascending New Close Knotts. viewing ancient field systems that decorate many of the hill sides above Malham. The principle was simple, edge your bets by planting crops on the mounds and in the dips, in the case of a wet year the crops on the mounds would grow, a dry year and hopefully the crops in the hollows would survive. Iron Age and Bronze Age man couldn't nip to the corner shop if their crops failed, they starved.

The Weets as seen from New Close Knotts.

Great Knott above Gordale, the path on the far side of the wall ascends from Gordale Scar, if I'd had any bottle and scaled the water filled ravine that green trod would have guided out of the gorge, instead I traversed New Close Knotts to the right.

Clints and Grykes, limestone scenery passed en route across New Close.

Limestone scenery above Gordale.

Malham Tarn, a glacial lake one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe, with a bed of clay and silt the water refuses to drain away.

Water Sinks guard the head of a dry valley that at one time would have been a deep river gorge.

The final sink hole captures the water flowing from Malham Tarn, this stream emerges as the infant River Aire south of Malham.

Seen from the top of a long dead waterfall below Comb Hill, Waterlows valley once a raging river spilling over the lip of Malham Cove.

Below the cliffs the shot above was taken from.

The limestone pavements above Malham Cove.

And finally Malham Cove.

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