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" The Classic Malham Cove Walk "

Date & start time: Sunday 27th Sept 2015, midday start.

Location of Start : Beck House Country Hotel, Malham, Uk ( SD 901 630)

Places visited : Malham Cove, the Dry Valley, Malham, up to the tarn and back.

Accommodation : Beck Hall, Yorkshire Dales Hotel & Bistro, Malham

Walk details :   6 mls, 800 feet of ascent, 6 hours including a light lunch.

Highest point : The Lings overlooking Malham Cove,  1250 ft - 385 m.

Walked with : Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather : Fine and dry, with few clouds in a bright blue sky.

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We added four nights at Malham in Yorkshire onto our five night Northumbrian stay

and after an interesting drive south through the Dales yesterday we were ready to take advantage

of another day of fine, dry weather with little breeze and even less clouds.

We had arranged to meet up with Dave and Josie for a walk up to Malham Cove.

Dave has spent a lot of time this summer volunteering his time as a RSPB Warden,

educating visitors and protecting the peregrines that have been nesting on the face of Malham Cove.

The Mad March Hares, captured in time, as we set off from the hotel.

This is such a popular visitor attraction that the footpath has been made wide enough for groups to pass without walking on the grass.

The path continues up to the face of Malham Cove, a large water-worn limestone cliff,

which would have been a fine waterfall in the times of the post-glacial melt.

Being porous limestone, the river has created subterranean caves and tunnels and no longer flows 'over the edge'.

However there is a stream which issues from the base of the cliff which forms the Malham Beck and eventually the River Aire.

More ancient stones form a fine clapper bridge closer to the cove itself.

Dave and Josie introduce us to the area and when close enough to the cliff we try to see

if we can spot the male peregrine falcon who is resident all year round, the female and chicks having departed after summer.

The birds had a nest at the base of the tree but there's no sign of them today.

We scanned the other cliffs edges but to no avail . . . plenty of people but no falcons.

There were other sightings . . . a heron . . .
. . . and a rather intrusive helicopter drone


There is a general ban on flying these sort of devices

in order to protect the rare birds

. . . someone was ignorant of local advice.


- - - o o o - - -


After a reasonable period of time we moved on

aware of the distance we planned to walk today.

It wasn't a long walk but it would still take time.


- - - o o o - - -


Ahead was nearly four hundred steps to the top.

Maybe that number is incorrect . . . I lost count !

Through the top gate and we are out on the limestone pavement above the cove.

There are plenty of people around up here too, many of whom seemed to have stopped for an early lunch.

The temptation is to walk over and peer over the edge of the cliff . . . so I gave in and did the same.

The view along the cliff on the right hand side (as seen from below) . . . unfortunately still no peregrines in view.

We stop close to the edge for some liquid refreshment, warm out of the flask.

Looking over the edge . . . to the left . . .
. . . and to the right.

The vertical face of the cliff is about 260 feet high and this was the view straight down.

The camera was held over the edge and just pointed . . . no using the viewfinder for this one !

After our look at the cove from above we headed off in the direction of Malham Tarn.

The path winds its way up the dry limestone valley.

A slightly bedraggled Painted Lady butterfly tasking advantage of the warm sunshine.

The path climbs alongside another smaller dry waterfall at the head of the valley.

Over the Malham Lings to the road crossing at Low Trenhouse where there was a rather convenient ice cream van.

From there it was a short distance to the lake itself. Surprisingly there's an area of non-porous rock in this area

that is able to hold the water back and in so doing forms England's highest freshwater lake.

[ Geology: Malham Tarn lies largely over Silurian slates covered with thick glacial drift and marl deposits.]

Malham Tarn House stands to the north of the Tarn, built by Walter Morrison to replace Lord Ribblesdale's hunting lodge.

It is now an outdoor pursuits centre.  

A wider panorama from the lakeside.

The lake is about 4 metres deep, the water level having been raised slightly in the 19th Century by the addition of a dam and sluice gates.

A good place to have our lunch.

It is too far to walk around the lake today, but we do walk a short way to admire the surroundings.

Malham Tarn House across the water.

One of the two ornate boathouses.
Time to return south once more.

The path up and back to Malham village is in fact part of the famous long distance path, the Pennine Way.

We pass 'Water Sinks' and re-enter the dry valley, walking back this time in the valley itself rather than over the tops.

Back to the dry waterfall and the long, straight valley

that leads back down to Malham Cove.


- - - o o o - - -

In the valley were several large flocks of birds.

Within their number were rather noisy rooks and crows.

- - - o o o - - -


What looks to me like a Jackdaw amongst the crowd.

The grassland up here is very suitable for more traditional breeds - here the highland cattle have a presence.

Back at the limestone pavement at The Cove.

Leaving aside the high pressure haze, there's a fine view from the top of the crags.

Clints (the blocks of limestone) . . .
. . . and Grykes (the gaps).

These create a unique wildlife habitat or micro-climate for rare wild flowers and ferns

Josie swigs the last of the water before we head on down those 400 steps again . . . no point in carrying it all the way home after all.

A last chance to scan those cliffs again for sight of the peregrine.

Josie, refreshed from her drink, points out a possible sighting high in the tree opposite.

Hold your cursor over the left hand picture to see where we thought the bird was situated,

but on close inspection we believed it to be a discolouration of the rock which caused the identification dilemma.

Finally the steps took us back down to the river where

we took the opportunity to walk up to the base of the huge cliff.

An 8 metre, 260 feet cliff  is a favourite of rock climbers and there are plenty on the face today.

Close up on the lower section of cliff . . .
. . . and closer still on the bottom right corner of the last photo.
This guy was climbing well . . .
. . . despite having to cope with the overhang.

We'll leave them to their sport and head back to the village.

In the valley a flash of green crossed ahead of us.
A fine green woodpecker settled on one of the nearby trees.

On the stones in the river . . . a black and white Dipper searches for food.

Late afternoon sunshine casts a warm light on the cliffs as we leave.

Back at Beck Hall and time for a cuppa and a quick check of some of the photos

before Dave and Josie have to leave for home.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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 1. The Malham Cove Walk


Previous walk - 26th September - Beadnell & South

A previous time here - Sorry - no digital picture on line for the Malham area.

Next walk - 28th September - Janet Foss / Goredale Scar

Stop Press:  Malham Cove became England's highest waterfall for the first time in living memory ... Storm Desmond December 2015.