Date walked: 27/09/2012
Time taken: 6 hours
Arriving in the National Park Visitor Centre car park, we found a few walkers preparing, as well as some large groups of young people who seemed to be on a field study day.
We crossed the stream in Malham Village and headed South on the hard path (Pennine Way) to Janet’s Foss, soon coming across a section of path that was partly under water, showing that the recent flooding in the area was still subsiding.
After the path left the Pennine Way and turned East between fields and a stream, we came across one of the groups of young people gathered round a leader, most of whom said a cheery hello as we passed through.
Some more parts of the path, although paved with large stones, were under a couple of inches of water, but each side was wetter and deeper, so we stayed on the path. After the open ground, the way enters a wooded gorge in Stoneybank Wood and closely follows the course of the stream, passing a fallen dead tree which has hundreds of coins hammered into it.
Path to Janets Foss
At the end of the gorge is Janet’s Foss, a small waterfall in a pretty location, overhung all round with trees.
Leaving the falls, the path climbs a rocky staircase up the left side of the gorge, then crosses a short stretch of field to a tarmac road, where we turned right, walking along Goredale Lane a short way, crossing Goredale Bridge, until we reached a path on the left leading to Goredale Scar. The path to Goredale Scar is good, but had been eroded in places by the recent floods, leaving deep channels in the surface.
Path to Goredale Scar.
We wandered up the valley, which soon closed in on us, then just before a waterfall, the walls reared up vertically and seemed to completely surround us.
A few other walkers were watching two people perched on a rocky pillar in the middle of the waterfall, who were slowly inching their way upwards. We stood as well, waiting to see if they would make it across the stream and round the corner, hoping that they wouldn’t slip and fall.
Goredale Scar Falls - Note the two walkers in the middle of the Waterfall
They did make it and we walked back out of the cliff-lined scar and down to the road, only stopping to have lunch on the way.
Turning right onto the tarmac road, we re-crossed Goredale Bridge and went through a gate on our right onto a path which headed North-West, following a wall uphill, with a decent view opening up behind us.
Looking back over Goredale
We crossed a few undulating grassy fields, passing the entrance to a dry valley, as the path became a gravel track again, veering West then North-West to reach another tarmac road. It had started to drizzle, so we put on light waterproofs and it immediately stopped, but it was cool so we kept them on.
We followed the winding road uphill for about ½ mile, until we saw the sign on our left for Malham Tarn. Taking this path across the moor, we came across the first bit of limestone pavement I’d seen.
Further on we sat and ate in the shelter of a grassy bank and looked out across miles of very impressive limestone pavements, stretching way to the East, while just above our seat was another vast area of the same.
Dramatic limestone country
Photographs taken at this point were taken with the GPS of my new camera switched on, tracking our route. Back home, when I entered the coordinates of my photos onto Google Earth, it took me immediately to within 10m of where we had been sitting. The continual tracking wasn’t so successful, it was a bit out at times and at one point it suggested that we had been in Greece.
Continuing on the same path across the grassy moor, we soon saw Malham Tarn in the distance and eventually reached the roadside car park, where we turned West, crossed the bridge and joined the Pennine Way again, heading South back towards Malham village.
Looking North towards Malham Tarn
The way seemed to disappear under water, but we realised that due to recent high water levels, the stream was running over ground and entering a sinkhole further down the valley than it normally would.
The grassy track becomes narrow and rocky as it winds its way down a narrow dry valley.
First dry valley
At the bottom of this valley the path veers right around a headland which overlooks Watlowes, a very deep and impressive dry valley.
Looking down into Watlowes
A steep, rocky staircase leads down into this huge scar cut in the hills.
Some way down the path, my wife called me to come back. I had passed close to a lamb which was lying among the rocks, feebly lifting its head. We left it in case we did any harm and hurried on to report it to the farmer.
After a pleasant grassy stretch, the track becomes rocky again and suddenly arrives on the edge of Malham Cove.
View from the top of Malham Cove
The cove was spectacular, with lots of impressive limestone pavement terraces and vertiginous views to the valley below.
We spotted some climbers on the vertical walls to the East side. Crossing the pavement we found the stone steps which led us steeply, in zigzags to the base of Malham Cove , which is hugely impressive from close up.
Malham Cove from below
From there we hurried on down a well-made path back to Malham Village where we reported the lamb to the first farm. They told us to report it to the National Park Centre, which we did…and they already knew about it and they were sending a ranger out.
Our first visit to the Malham area and we were impressed enough with the scenery to want to return some day.
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