It’s amazing how many people have not heard of Malham Cove – and I was one of them. It seems to be off-the-beaten-track for even some very well-practiced walkers and countryphiles, which means it’s not full of hordes of tourists, but given its sheer stark beauty and amazing history, it’s difficult to understand why.
You get to the Cove itself by walking about 2 miles up from the pretty little village of Malham which has plenty of parking (free and otherwise!). As you get closer the sheer scale begins to dawn upon you and eventually, if you walk as close in as you can get, which we did, you are faced with an 80metres high sheer limestone cliff face. This was once a waterfall – fed by a glacier that was 2km beyond the top of the cove in the moors and started melting some 50,000 years ago. We were taken aback by this story as it looks like someone could have turned off the tap at the top a few weeks ago! As you move towards climbing up to the top, some very well-thought out and carefully placed interpretation boards tell you more about this fascinating story – so, the last time water (anything like a waterfall) was seen coming over the top was in the early 18th century, and that was due to a particularly wet winter!
The walk to the top takes a bit of effort – something like 400 roughly hewn steps (but that’s part of the fun, as it doesn’t feel like a theme park!) – but when you get there the view is absolutely stunning across vast swathes of Yorkshire below and further moorland beyond which would have been the site of the original glacier that fed the waterfall. All of this enhanced by the less natural site of climbers scaling the limestone and some fell-runners trying to look impressive, but just look bonkers, frankly!
A fantastic morning’s adventure – but don’t tell everyone as they’ll spoil it!!!