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Malham Cove & Gordale Scar


Regular readers of my blog will know of my passion for the Lake District! I think all of my blogs are of walks done there? That was my intention when i first put pen to paper so to speak, to document my walks with photos and words, something to look back on with fond memories in later life. This year i have promised myself to visit more of our beautiful British landscape. Yesterday was the turn of the Yorkshire Dales.

I had plotted a route that would take in 3 points of interest that hold special memories for me. It had been 9 nine years since i last visited this area, with my then young children and their Mum. I had never visited the Dales before then. My passion for the great outdoors was in its infancy and i was still walking in hobnail boots and old work clothes!

Whilst browsing through some outdoor literature in a charity shop i came across a book of Yorkshire Dales walks. I was instantly drawn to a photograph of Malham Cove, mesmerized by its imposing limestone face. We had to visit! And we did πŸ™‚

So yesterday on the drive over from home, in between singing songs about coffee with my good friend and walking companion Stuart, my mind kept casting back to those family visits here all them years ago! I felt an emotional day coming on!!

We arrived in the village of Malham at 9.30am to drizzle, and mist engulfing the hills. Not to be perturbed (the weather people had promised it would clear up by lunchtime), we donned our boots (proper walking ones these days!) set off on our walk.


Which way is it?


Looking back to Malham

And forward to the route ahead
We have more visitors Harriet!!

After leaving Malham we headed North Easterly to the first checkpoint of Janet’s Foss waterfall. I was looking forward to Stuart seeing this for the first time as we headed upstream and could hear it in full flow. He wasn’t to be disappointed!


Stu at Janet`s Foss waterfall


So here is where the first wave of emotion hit me! Legend has it that the fall is named after a fairy queen that lived in a cave behind the fall. I remember telling my 2 sons this tale as we sat on a nearby rock eating sandwiches, about how the falls would shimmer in darkness from the wings of fairies visiting their queen. I stood yesterday and looked at the very same rock…..Hold it together Scotty boy!!!

This is what i love so very much about the outdoors. We all have memories of activities that we have done with our families. I drive past the cinema that i took my children to many times, i never think about that time we went to see Harry Potter, or Toy Story 1 to 3. I did love Toy Story btw πŸ™‚

But the outdoors is different, i cant fully explain why, but it is. Maybe it the enjoyment i get out of it that brings back these wonderful memories? My mind clinging on to the innocence of their youth? I could hear them yesterday, laughing over the roar of the falls, splashing in the shallow pool and skimming stones…Like i said, emotional day!!

Leaving Janet`s Foss behind it is a short walk up to the next point of interest Gordale Scar..

Gordale Scar is a limestone ravine with overhanging cliffs rising 100 metres high. A truly imposing place when you enter its jaws! The Scar was formed by melting glaciers and a possible cavern collapse. William Wordsworth wrote of it “Let thy feet repair to Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair where the young lions couch” which to be honest i have no idea what it means? Maybe he had overfilled his hip flask that day πŸ™‚

In the Words of normal folk like Stu and i…..” holy shit, its huge” “Wow!” ” Lets climb it” were a few πŸ™‚


Gordale Scar

Our initial plan for today was to climb the waterfall at the mouth of the Scar and walk along the length of the ravine. As we got up close it was evident that i was not going to be able to scramble up with Rocky Roo in attendance. Stu was almost at the top checking out a route but it was too difficult and unsafe to do so. We will be back without our four legged friend to do this again for sure!

We sat by the fall and had a coffee as we came up with a plan B to get up on to the scar. As a way of thanks to Stu for not talking him up there, Rocky Roo proceeded to eat Stu`s unattended sandwich as we checked the map for an alternative way up! Such a loving and thankful dog he is πŸ™‚

An alternative route found albeit a bit of a steep one, we were on our way again…


Stu leading the way up the alternative albeit steeper route!!

I do not recommend this route for anyone planing this walk. I t was steep and scree strewn and man did it hurt the calves!! There is an unmarked path back towards the entrance to Gordale Scar, that although is still steep, is much safer than our “adventurous” route up.


Safer route up…

Once at the top (eventually) the weather started to clear a little as the forecast had said it would.


That path is a loooong way down!!


Stu reassessing our route

We were now on top of Gordale Scar looking down which for me was a far better viewpoint for photography. Every cloud and all that jazz!


A short walk along the top of New Close Knotts and we picked up our original path at the top of the waterfall. The path that leads down to the waterfall is steep and constantly wet from the spray of the falls, so care needs to be taken! The views from here are amazing as you stand in this great chasm of rock.


The steep path down



You cannot help but feel small in here. Nature is so vast and beautiful, and to be in this presence is truly wonderful.


Trying to not feel so small πŸ™‚


The way back up

Back on the main path now we headed North Westerly to Malham Tarn. the sun was out now and the views were opening up and letting us in to take a look…

As we approached Malham Tarn the weather turned again with Sleet and rain driving into us. A reminder that it is very much still Winter! I didn’t get any photos of the tarn as my camera was filling with condensation again! Anyone with any tips on how to stop this greatly appreciated.

We left the Tarn and headed off to our last point of interest, Malham Cove. We approached from the top of the cove onto the Limestone pavement, a geological marvel, but also a treacherous place for dogs as we found out. Rocky Roo was not a fan of the crazy paving 😦

The view from the top of the cove is pretty amazing…


I had another emotional moment here as i reminisced again. Meanwhile Stu was helping some poor girl unwedge her foot from the crack in the slab she had stepped into!! I was oblivious to these as i fought back tears and took selfies of myself πŸ™‚

Thankfully the girl was ok and they managed to save the shoe too!

It was very busy on top of the cove and the footpath leading back down was like a London tube station at times! I love to see people getting outdoors but it can also get a little too busy. It`s a fine line i guess.

We were soon down to the bottom od the cove looking up. Some climbers were climbing the rock face as we parked our posteriors firmly on the terra firma to enjoy one last coffee. They are a different breed those climby people!!


Malham Cove

Looking back on the cove

Our walk was at an end. It is an odd feeling when you finish a walk like this. You are partly relieved that the walk is over, but equally you dont want the day to end, knowing that work and life awaits at the other end. But like we said yesterday, these days are a reset button. You flick that switch after a busy week and it is all forgotten. Out here all you can think about is the environment you are in. Taking in the awe of this beautiful landscape we call home, reminiscing of previous happy days here, enjoying the moments, living the moments. It is priceless to me and much needed to strike a healthy balance in life. I am pretty sure that is what William Wordsworth meant too in a roundabout way πŸ™‚

You can find this route and more on the Ordnance Survey Get Outside page here


Thanks for reading


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