Malham, Yorkshire Sunday 28th April 2013

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Andrew Mayor   Distance: approx. 9 miles

The walk starts from Malham from where we walk along Gordale Beck to Janet’s Fosse, then along to Gordale Scar. Here we have a choice of routes, either up the left hand hill to reach the top of the water fall of Gordale Scar or, for those who fancy a challenge, the waterfall can be scaled. This involves a short steep scramble. Once on top, by either route, we will follow a grassy stony track to Malham Tarn and then along the dry valley of Watlowes to the limestone pavement on top of Malham Cove, followed by an easy walk back to Malham.

Moderate Leader: Jackie Gudgeon   Distance: about 8 miles,

We leave Malham by following Gordale Beck to reach Janet’s Fosse (hopefully we will have had some rain to make the waterfall spectacular – but none today please!) followed by a steady climb to cross the lane (Malham Rakes) and on to reach the top of Malham Cove. We will have a short break looking over the Cove (or lunch, depending on the time) and then follow a moorland track and lane to reach Street Gate and then on to Great Close Scar and Malham Tarn. Another possible lunch stop. We then follow good tracks to the parking area at Malham Tarn (ice cream van) and then Locks Scar, Langscar Gate, Long Lane and back to Malham.

Mostly good paths, boggy patches on the moorland, a five minute stretch of road. Wonderful views.

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance: 6.5 miles

From the YHA we walk along a raised path towards Malham Cove, before descending to cross a little clapper bridge over Malham Beck. We take steps up the left hand side of the Cove. Taking care over the limestone pavement, we come to a stile leading to Watlowes Dry Valley which narrows into a rocky gorge. We now have a choice.

If the weather is fine we can continue on to Malham Tarn for lunch. If wet or windy, we will go directly to Langscar Gate, on to moorland where we can find a sheltered area for lunch, before circling around Ewe Moor with wonderful views. We emerge onto Cove Road which we descend gradually for a short distance to a gate leading to walled track back to Malham. If the tarn is omitted, we can take the path to Janet’s Fosse before returning to the village once more.

Easy Leader: Hazel Anderton   Distance: 5 miles

There are two routes planned, one planned by Margery Howe for last year which goes to the ‘honey pots’ of Janet’s Fosse, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove. The other misses out Gordale Scar and instead takes us up the Watlows Dry Valley at the back of the Cove and goes a short while on the moors before coming down a small lane, then a footpath, back to Malham.

On the higher walk there are views of the hills and escarpments above Malham, We might see the birds of prey hunting, and possibly a Tesco van, and you will see the Cove but from a higher perspective. Both routes involve some walking over rough ground and either steps up or steps down. Which route we do will be decided on the day.

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.