Malham, Yorkshire 29th April 2012

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Jackie Gudgeon   Distance: About 9 miles

We leave Malham to follow the stream to Janets Fosse and Gordale Bridge. Up and over to the top of Malham Cove where we follow the Pennine Way along the dry valley of Watlowes to reach Malham Tarn. Then by bridleway and tracks to Nappa Cross from where we descend back into Malham along Fair Sleets Gate and Long Lane. Fairly well drained stony tracks most of the way but could be quite boggy in places on the higher peaty ground.

Moderate Leader: Andrew Mayor/Norma Carmichael   Distance: 8 miles

Ascent 850 feet (258 metres).

This is Andrew’s first walk as a leader so I hope those who join the group will be patient. The walk starts from the village along a riverside path passing through a garlic path onto Janet’s Foss, a pretty water fall where we will stop for a few minutes. We will then continue up a few steps along the road towards Gordale Scar. Those who wish to climb the scar can do so, otherwise we leave the scar behind and retrace our steps back to Gordale Bridge, crossing the field through a gate towards the hill.

Once upon the hill we find a path which takes us past the limestone pavement towards Street Gate and then onto Malham Tarn where we will stop for lunch. We will continue the walk to Malham Cove where we encounter some steep steps (care should be taken as they can become slippy). We will carry on the path, which I believe is part of the Pennine Way until we reach the village.

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance: 6.5 miles

Riverside walk to Janets Foss, followed by visit to admire Gordale Scar before returning towards Malham on Gordale Lane. Taking a path in front of the YHA towards Malham Cove – good spot for lunch, nice big boulders to lean against, before climbing up steps of Cove (we will take our time).

Great views from top of cove. We then take a rocky walk along Watlowes towards the tarn and an ice cream van. We return via Lanscar Gate and down to Malham.

Easy Leader: Margery Howe & Hazel Anderton   Distance: 5 miles

Malham – Gordale Beck to Janets Foss – Gordale Scar (to view only) – Gordale Bridge. Short climb from bridge up and over to the Cove, across fields. Malham Cove (limestone pavement, alternative route if pavement is found to be too testing). Descend by steps to riverside path back to Malham.

Notes On The Area

The exact derivation of the name Malham is not clear, but it may mean ‘stony or gravelly place’, a name which would be in keeping with much of its surrounding area. In the Domesday Book the name is given as ‘Malgum’. In any event there has been a settlement at Malham for well over a thousand years and human habitation in the area for perhaps three thousand. Today it is without doubt the most popular village in the National Park with one million visitors each year. The present bridge which marks the centre of the village is eighteenth century but incorporates much of an earlier packhorse bridge of the seventeenth, while there are three clapper bridges of earlier origin.

The Middle Craven Fault, running roughly east to west just north of Malham, marks the southern limit of the Great Scar Limestone, for the land to the south of it is of a very different character. Malham Cove and the valley in front of it were created when glacial melt waters ran down the steep hillside produced by the fault and eroded back into the edge of the limestone bed. It is a magnificent sight; a great natural amphitheatre with sheer – and in parts overhanging – walls tapering back into the hillsides on each side. The depression in the centre of the cliff was originally the lip of a waterfall, about three times higher than any existing fall in the Dales today. Not since the early years of the nineteenth century however has any water been known to flow over it.

Malham Tarn, a stretch of open water covering 153 acres, exists in limestone country because its bed is formed of more ancient impervious rock. The present depth of the tarn – about 14 feet – is maintained by an embankment and sluice gate to the south built by a previous owner, Thomas Lister, in 1791. The Tarn is now owned by the National Trust and managed as a nature reserve by the Field Studies Council.

Gordale Scar has been described as ‘a collapsed cave’ but is believed to have been created by a furious rush of water as vast quantities of ice melted at the end of the last glacial period. Within the Gorge, the 160 ft high cliffs protrude at the top, at one point coming within 50 ft of each other.

Janet’s Foss. Foss is a name used for waterfall and Janet (or Jennet) is said to be queen of the local fairies. She lived (or lives) in the far from comfortable quarters of a cave behind the waterfall. The fan of white water was created when the limestone bedrock was dissolved and eroded by the action of water, and then re-deposited on mosses growing on the lip of the waterfall as a fragile screen of porous limestone known as Tufa.