Malham is a village in Yorkshire’s Dales National Park. The population of just 120 is swelled during summer months by day-trippers, hikers, school trips and campers. They all come here to see the ‘rare and exciting limestone features’, which have been formed over twelve thousand years, since the last ice age.
An anti-clockwise walk, which should take around three hours (add extra time for picnics) allows you to see the seven wonders of Malham. The first of these is Janet’s Foss, a waterfall named after a fairy queen, who is reputed to live in a cave at the back of the falls. This is most spectacular during the winter months, but is worth a visit at any time of the year. See if you can spot the nearby ‘coin tree’. Also nearby are the remains of a 2000 year old Iron Age settlement.
If you follow Gordale Beck you appear to be presented with an impassable hill. But keep going; as the valley walls close in and make a sharp right turn, you reach Gordale Scar. 300ft, overhanging limestone cliffs frame a double waterfall. The more adventurous amongst you may continue onwards; you can climb up through the scar, and on towards Malham Tarn. This natural lake lies in a shallow crater formed by a retreating glacier, and was the inspiration for the novel ‘The Water Babies’.
The stream which flows south for around for a few hundred yards mysteriously vanishes. This is the Water Sinks, and, though not as spectacular as some of the other attractions mentioned here, is ten time more puzzling. We are on the home stretch now, an on the Pennine Way, a 268 mile footpath which runs Edale from in the Peak District to the Scottish border, at Kirk Yetholm.
The iceberg that formed the Tarn is also responsible for Malham Cove, which is a crescent-shaped, 250ft high limestone wall, over which flowed melt-water all those years ago. On top of the cliff is a fantastic limestone pavement, formed by thousands of years of erosion. From here, you can see for miles. Today, a tiny beck emerges from the very base of the Cove. The area is ideally suited to support a family of Peregrine Falcons, and the RSPB maintain a vigil from April to June every year, to chart their progress.
More of Tom's Malhamdale photos
How to get there
The nearest large town is Skipton, which can be reached easily by car (it is where the A59 Liverpool – York road meets the A65 Leeds – Kendal route), bus (X84 runs hourly from Leeds) or train (local services from Leeds and Bradford, also Settle – Carlisle trains stop here). See
Northern Rail, West Yorkshire Metro and Travel Dales for more information.
By Car – Take the A65 to Gargrave, the follow signs to Malham along the unclassified and narrow lanes.
By Bus – 843 departs every two hours from Skipton Library. See Dalesbus for more information.