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!!!
Planning the perfect weekend away is harder than you think. The careful of balance of location vs. driving distance; activity vs. tranquillity.
After much searching we chose a beautiful looking B&B in the quiet town of Howarth in the heart of Bronte Country. Ashmount Country House promised ‘luxury accommodation set amongst some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK.’
The hour long drive from Manchester took closer to two in Friday night rush-hour traffic, but we still arrived at the reasonable hour of 7pm. Greeted with a super-friendly welcome we were shown to our stunning room, Suite Dreams 21, situated across the road from the main house.
Elegant and well finished, the room really did feel luxurious, and the window-side cast iron bath and four-poster bed gave that ‘wow’ factor.
Back in the main house there’s a stunning Drawing Room to relax and enjoy the Honesty Bar. A word of warning here… It’s only the following day when you check the book do you realise just how honest you can be!
Breakfast was a hearty affair with a wide selection of hot and cold food available. Service was efficient and friendly, even first thing in the morning. The restaurant at Ashmount is also worth a mention. The food served in the evening was fantastic, and the intimate dining space really added to the homely atmosphere.
In terms of location Ashmount is perfect. Just a minute walk to the centre of Howarth, and from there it’s only a few paces in any direction before you’re in the heart of the moors. We chose a walk to the famous Bronte Waterfall, which, despite a minor hailstorm, was most refreshing…. even after a night in the Honesty Bar!
There’s not much else to do in Howarth apart from visit the Bronte museum (which we didn’t) or pop into a few tourist shops (which we did.) But if you’re looking for a relaxing break, Ashmount is a great choice – beautiful location, fantastic accommodation and a quick, easy drive from central Manchester. Highly recommended.