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Green Man

North Yorkshire

Thursday 18th April 2013
Malham - Gordale Scar - Malham Tarn - Malham Cove - Malham
10 miles

We'd gone up to Yorkshire for a few days to explore the coastal towns of Staithes, Whitby and Scarborough as well as the city of York and its minster. We didn't take the bike as it's got a few tiny faults that I want to sort out. Also, as it was April and the weather had been so abysmal lately we decided we'd like a little extra comfort for once with the option of staying dry some of the time. So at 9.00 on Monday morning we rented a car and booked a cottage and by 10.30am we were off up t' North.

This website is all about hiking, so I won't bore you with a review of the great time we had exploring the moors by car on some of the most stimulating roads in the country, nor drive you to sleep by telling you about the taste of Whitby oysters and the views across Scarborough beach to the castle. You will just have to go there yourselves!

On our last day we finally got round to taking a walk in the Yorkshire dales - a pretty simple one that took in a few of the natural wonders of the area. These included Yorkshire's answer to the grand canyon - Gordale Scar, the highest tarn in the Pennines - Malham Tarn and the impressive cliff amphitheatre at Malham Cove. We also wanted to have a good look at the limestone pavements that are spread across the top of the Malham area.

Our (my) plan was to get to the waterfall at Gordale Scar and then climb it (!) and hike along and explore the gorge wall until we reached the top. There is a footpath along there and it's supposed to be spectacular but would we get past the waterfall barrier? This all depended on a number of factors. The first was - would the waterfall be running too strong to allow us to climb it? The second and vastly more important question was - would I be able to convince Gill to climb it? There were serious doubts in my mind about the answers to both of those questions.

We started from the very pretty village of Malham which must be a nightmare of coaches and tourists in the summer.
Today it was empty apart from us and the local school kids who were having a biology lesson in the River Aire.

Finally back on the Pennine Way after 34 years. Wainwright hated the Pennine Way and I must admit I did too.
This section is the prettiest bit of it though, as even AW had to agree.

Janet's Foss. Luckily it had been raining before we arrived in Yorkshire, so the streams were all running well.

Approaching the tight entrance way into Gordale Scar.

The entry to the Scar is blocked by a series of waterfalls. The people in this picture give you the scale.

We decided that the wind was causing so much spray that we would get soaked if we climbed and then we would get frozen.
Gill was actually keen to climb but not keen to get wet.
Therefore, Plan 'B' gets put into operation.


To follow the Scar we go back a bit and climb up. Then we could follow it from above.

Down there was the waterfall. A spectacular gorge with the Gordale Beck running through it.
Later we will be walking through the moor where this stream originates.

But the gorge goes for a mile or so further.

Gale force 11 by this point I'd say. If this was in the town there would be severe damage going on.
Up here in the hills though it's just a typical day. No hang gliders around here - they'd be smashed into the rocks in seconds.

Along the top we start to come across limestone pavements.

Then we were out into open moor...

... using this ford to cross the stream...

...before reaching Middle House Farm and our turn off for Malham Tarn.

Malham Tarn

This is Water Sinks. It does what it says on the tin. The stream just sinks away, through the ground!

Then we had to lose height to bring us back down to Malham Cove and we made use of this dry valley to do so.

You can tell that this place must get a bit busy in the summer... double gates and double stiles!

Finally there are 400 steps down to Malham Cove.

Malham Cove, just half a mile from our finish point. A fantastic finish to a walk.

It turned out that we only had two very light rain showers the whole time we were away. We also didn't really use all of the stuff we took away with us, especially Gill, who took about 10 pairs of shoes! The only thing the car did for us was to keep us a bit warmer and allow us to take the contents of our larder with us to save on shopping costs. Mind you, we did have to pay for parking everywhere we went and we had to fork out for the car rental in the first place. In all, we wish we'd gone by bike, especially as the roads in the dales are utterly incredible. They test car and driver to the max and every corner delivers a new feast for the eyes and the soul. In the summer it must be a nightmare to get past all the traffic but in April it seemed we had the whole massive county to ourselves. Miles of twisty wonderful roads with only us exploring them. We can't wait to come back and do it properly - on our bike!

Take the time to read the countryside code for yourself and please stick to it at all times.