Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
At the weekend I took a break from doing the Wainwright's (I can relax a bit now seeing as I've reached my target for the year) and instead decided to go walking in Yorkshire for a change. I often forget that Cumbria borders with the Yorkshire Dales and a short drive out to the east can find you among the classic rolling hills of the Yorkshire landscape. Being used to the tall peaks, deep valleys, vast lakes and hidden tarns of the Lake District, the gentle green landscapes surrounding the small village of Malham made a nice change for my Sunday walk.
Parking in the centre of the village by the river, we walked up towards Malham Cove following the well marked sign posts through the village. The path then heads across some fields (home to sheep and some lovely belted Galloways) leading right to the base of Malham Cove. The cove is a fantastic sight even from a distance, but it's only once you are standing right at the base of the sheer cliff face looking up that you truly realise the scale of it. At the right time of the year there is also a waterfall tumbling down into the river below but not while we were visiting. The landscape in this area was apparently shaped during the ice age when water was melting and flowing down the cliff, cutting it away into the formation it stands as today. After watching a few brave climbers attempt to traverse up the cliff, we then turned to join back up with the path and headed up to the top of the cove.
The next stage of the walk was up some limestone steps, which some people could find quite difficult. It's worth noting that the stones would be quite slippery in the rain too so take care on this route in bad weather! The good thing about the steps is that if you do need to stop for a break you can look out at the fantastic views in all directions! At the top of the steps there is a small climb and then you are up onto the famous limestone pavement (where part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed).
The limestone pavement is amazing to look at - large chunks of rock shaped over millions of years by water and air with deep cracks in between. Take care walking on the stones as again they can be slippery, and it's not a good idea to let dogs off their lead up here as it's easy for them to fall into the cracks between the rocks! The views are stunning and on a good day like we had, we could see for miles. After hopping along the pavement we stopped for some photos before making our way along the next section of the route towards Gordale Scar.
The walk to Gordale Scar was nice and easy, along gently sloping grass hills and then a good gravel footpath from the road to the base of the scar. Again, this is a landscape shaped during the ice age with dramatic cliffs on each side and a waterfall flowing down during the right season. There is also a small campsite nearby which would make a great base for doing some hiking around here - maybe something I will have to investigate sometime! Turning back along the footpath again we headed for our final viewpoint of the day - Janet's Foss. This is a beautiful waterfall hidden within the woodland, where legend has it that a fairy Queen (Janet) lived in a cave behind the waterfall. It's a magical setting and when the light shines at the right angle through the trees, the pools looks a gorgeous shade of blue. The footpath next to Janet's Foss follows the meandering river and eventually brings you back out in the village of Malham. By the time we arrived back in the village we were all ready for some food so we stopped off at The Lister Arms where I had a fantastic Sunday roast and a glass of mulled cider - perfect for those chilly winter days!
Overall the walk was just under 5 miles - not too long or too challenging, but just about right for a nice Sunday stroll with amazing views and great places to stop for food and drinks afterwards! I would love to visit Malham again and also other parts of Yorkshire to see what other walks this county has to offer. I've hiked the Yorkshire Three Peaks before which was great fun so after my Wainwright challenge is complete maybe I will be hiking in Yorkshire more often!
Our route is below if you'd like to give this walk a go...