Introducing Malham Cove: a giant 80m high and 300m wide curved limestone cliff. It’s contrasting bizarre and beautiful structure and surrounding landscape makes it one of our favourite places in the Yorkshire Dales.
Formed as a result of the last ice age, the cove used to be home to a huge waterfall. This erosion is credited with forming the unusual, curved shape and has led to Malham Cove being named on of the top ten geological wonders of Britain.
With all day parking at the nearby visitor centre for just a few quid, and a good selection of small cafes and proper country pubs, Malham is the perfect place for a day out or even to spend the entire weekend. But before you get settled in with a nice pint of the local ale, have a wonder up the road and see what the noise is all about with that big, limestone cliff thing everyone seems to be fussing over!
The walk to the cove itself is short and sweet, taking you along a path running adjacent to a stream which will guide you all the way to the imposing cliffs. The brave among you will negotiate the super slippery, wet rocks to get a closer look, whilst the outright crazy will see the overhanging rock as the perfect challenge to partake in a bit of rock climbing.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was also filmed here, but careful not to eat all of your snacks just yet, as whilst this is undoubtedly the main attraction, there’s still plenty more to see.
At the side of Malham Cove are 400 or so stone steps (no pain no gain), and whilst it may seem like a good idea at the time of climbing them, the view from the top on a clear day will be well worth it. Even if the weather is against you and you can’t see out over the village, you can further appreciate the strange patterns and formations of the limestone pavements. So weird and wonderful that your imagination would make you believe you’re on a completely different and peculiar planet – like Mars, or Lancashire.
Be sure to take extra care here if it has been raining as the stones will be absolutely treacherous; so hop, or crawl, your way to the other side, and get onto the safe haven otherwise known as grass. Now sturdy under foot, you can confidently skip or stroll your way down the valley and towards Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss.
Our best tip at this point is to look out for the Gordale Refreshments food van, which has been trading here most days of the week, for years. Not your usual greasy burger van, and often stocked with fresh and homemade soups and very reasonable prices – well worth a quick pit stop! Anyway, back to the nature…
With full bellies again, head down the road and through a kissing gate towards Janet’s Foss – you’ll be guided by the sound of crashing water, all the way to a relatively small but beautiful waterfall and pool. Take a picture and take in the scenery here and if you’ve come in the summer, then whip out those speedos and go for a quick paddle!
An easy and flat walk alongside the relaxing stream will loop you back round to wear you started at the Malham visitor centre and within a stones throw of the earlier mentioned pubs to recharge your batteries, yet again. If you’re staying for the weekend, then check the forecast and see if you’re getting a clear night for some stargazing or head off and take a short drive down the road to explore the pleasant village of Settle instead.
By Alex Mulvey