Malham Tarn is a glacial lake near Malham. It is 377 metres (1,237 ft) above sea level, making it the highest lake in England. The lake is one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe. Its geology, flora and fauna have led to it being listed under a number of conservation designations. The site is currently owned by the National Trust, who lease part of the site to the Field Studies Council who offer residential and non-residential field courses there. The site was the inspiration for Charles Kingsley's 1863 novel, The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby.
The lake is home to six species of fish, as well as white-clawed crayfish, Great Crested Grebes, Moorhens, Coots, Tufted Ducks and Teal. A number of waders such as Redshanks, Curlews, Lapwings and Oystercatchers breed in the surrounding area. Two rare benthic copepods, Bryocamptus rhaeticus and Motatia mrazeki, are found in the lake, along with 22 species of molluscs—nine of which are found at their highest altitude in Britain. The lake also contains a number of submerged aquatic plants, while the surrounding area is home to a diverse number of plants including wild cranberry, bearberry, crowberry, dark-leaved willow and Purple Moor Grass.
Townhead Barn was opened in Malham village in 1997 and shows the interior of a traditional Dales barn with an exhibition on farming practices through the years related to the Dales. It is open daily in summer except Mondays, and Sundays only in winter.
Standing some 80 metres high and 300 metres wide and north of the mid craven fault, Malham Cove is a curved crag of carboniferous limestone formed after the last ice age.
The cove can be climbed , and steps have been cut in to the rock to the left of the cove - a strenuous climb up though gives magnificent views of the area and here you will find a limestone pavement ( see my tip here on VT).
Malham Cove is a magnificent, gigantic curved crag of carboniferous limestone formed after the last ice age. Meltwater, particularly from Malham Tarn, cut back the cove as it fell over the edge as a waterfall. This erosion took place more actively at the lip of the fall rather than at the sides, the Waterfall has dried up now but has carved the rock into the shape of an ampitheatre! The cove face is noticeable for its horizontal ledges, due to variations in the hardness of the limestone layers, and the dark vertical stripes, which are formed by the growth of lichens and mosses as water seeps down the face of the rock. The addition of soot and dirt in the air gets caught on the growths, further tainting the color.
On top of the cove you will find the magnificent limestone pavement The deeply fissured limestone patterns have been caused by chemical weathering due to slightly acidic rain which has dissolved and widened the many joints of the limestone, carving the patterns that can be seen today. The resulting limestone pavement is known as 'clints' or 'grykes', where the naked limestone lumps are the clints and the fissures in between are the grykes. The grykes are home to some great, many rare (shade-loving) plants - harts-tongue fern, wood-sorrel, wood-garlic, geranium, anemone, rue, and enchanter's nightshade. From the top of Malham Cove you will be rewarded with some breathtaking views of Malham and the surounding area.
We did a great walk from Gordale Scar, a well signposted route over the top of the hill to reach Malham Cove, I imagine this area gets really busy but we were lucky to have it practically to ourselves as we started early. The cove can also be reached easily from Malham Village. There are about 200 steps to reach the top of the cove. I was a little worried about these before we set off because of dodgy knees but with the aid of a walking pole they were not a proble
The cove is just as impressive looking up from the bottom path. There is a lovely babbling brook running from the base and if you're lucky you may be able to spot the Peregrine Falcans who successfully breed here each year.
Malham Village is a perfect picture postcard village. It is at the Southern Base of the Yorkshire Dales and extremely popular with walkers and Country lovers alike. Here you will find the National Park visitor Centre, some lovely little cafe's a few pubs and a gift shop/tea rooms. There are some nice looking guest houses here too and a centrally located Youth Hostel.
Malham Cove would once have been the highest waterfall in England, the limestone pavement at it's top would have been worn into the patterns that we see today by a huge amount of Glacial melt water cascading over it and off the edge of the cove into the valley below. It must have been a fantastic sight all those thousands of years ago.
The land between the top of the Cove and Malham Tarn is now known as Dry Valley and has no water on the surface but it does have various underground streams which feed the nearby becks.
The lime stone pavement is all over this area but it really is breathtaking to stand at the top of the Cove were the pavement looks in places like the bones of Dinosaurs and take in the view over the valley and Malham village below
Janet's Foss is a small waterfall and pool in a magical wood along the footpath from Malham Village toward Gordale Scar.
It is said to be the home of Jennet (or Janet) the queen of the fairies who is supposed to live in a cave behind the falls, The word Foss is an old norse word for a waterfall or force.
The rocks at the side of the waterfall which form the path are steep and can be quite slippy so beware!
Gordale Scar is a huge gorge whose true size is only really visible when you walk into it through the Gordale camp-site, We were camping there and from our tent we had a Fantastic view of the Scar, it is certainly the best view from a tent I have ever had.
Gordale Scar was created during the Ice age by melting glacial water that formed a cavern first which eventually collapsed to create the gorge and waterfall that you can see today. we walked down as far as the waterfall which is not that far but we did not climb up it past the waterfall, mostly because we did not realise that you could, maybe we should have gone a few steps further.
Thankfully though not doing so gives a good reason to go back.
We walked to Malham Cove from the camp-site at the Scar (about 2 miles) following the signposted path, it's a bit hilly but not to bad.
The path brings you out at the top of the cove's vertical cliff face which is about 260 feet high ans so there are some really great views, We had set off early so when we got to the top of the cove there was only one other person about. we explored the Limestone pavement which to me looks like the bones of some great fossilised animal before descending a the steps to the bottom of the cove were people were watching the Peregrine Falcons that nest in the cliff face.
Malham cove is fantastic, you can certainly see why it has been attracting visitors for centuries
A leisurely walk then took us back to the Village and after a browse around the National Park Centre we had a lovely lunch at The Lister Arms before going back to the Camp-site.
We had a ride out on the motorbike to have a look at the tarn as the roads are a little narrow and steep for a large motorhome. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that you couldn't view the tarn from the road and had to walk to it. Once again, we were out of time, having to get back to the van, so never got to have a wander around.
The tarn was originally formed during the ice age when a glacier scooped out a depression and melt water and spring water filled it. It was naturally dammed by a moraine. In very later years, it was dammed again, raising the water level.Water flows out of the tarn and sinks underground into the carbeniferous limestone, to re-emerge further down the valley at Airehead Springs.
It is the highest known lime-rich tarn in the country and is owned by the Field Studies Council, who hold residential courses. The surrounding moorland is National Trust owned and is known as a European Special Area For Conservation.
There is a nature trail around the tarn and it is a very popular spot for birdwatching.
Parking is just opposite the footpath, in a small carpark. (Be warned, there are notices warning of being in a high crime risk area. Don't leave valuables in your car.)
Once you have reached Malham Cove, don't leave without summoning up the energy to climb the steps up onto the magnificent limestone pavement. It takes about twenty minutes, taking it easy and is well worth your effort.
You remember your geography lessons, learning all about clints and grykes, well, this is the ultimate field trip! The deeply fissured pavement spreads out before you, extending the full way round the cove and for some way back. It is formed by the acidic rain widening and dissolving the natural joints of the limestone, carving almost geometrical lines. The clints are the lumps of limestone that remain and the grykes are the channels and fissures found in-between. Growing in these grykes are many rare, shade seeking plants, including harts tongue fern, wood sorrel and anemones.
The pavement is extremely difficult to walk on, balancing on the clints whilst trying your hardest not to put a foot down a gryke takes a lot of doing!! Probably why I didn't venture too far along the pavement. I was happy enough with the view from the first part you reach. Sitting on the edge and putting the world to rights seemed to be a popular activity. Me, I didn't venture too close to the edge!!
Have to admit, we didn't do this walk. We ran out of time as we had to be off our campsite by noon so only got to view the start of the walk and the surrounding area.
We had a peak at the campsite, which is actually on the footpath, so rather public. Certainly the scenery is spectacular and I am sorry we didn't manage to see the scar.
Formed when a massive cave system collapsed in on itself from meltwater eroding it, it became a winding narrow gorge set between the huge limestone cliffs, with a couple of waterfalls thrown in. These are another example of tufa, the calcium deposited on the moss, similar to janet's Foss.
The walk starts on the flat but becomes difficult if you want to continue up through the waterfalls and onto the moor. Clambouring and sliding over the boulders is what's required and it goes without saying not to attempt this if you are not very experienced or are not wearing suitable footwear.
This little trip we did on the motorbike and I'm glad, as the road is very narrow for a motohome. We overshot it at first, as the major attraction here is the footpath to Gordale Scar. Just before the campsite is a footpath sign on the right. Wander through here, down the slippery, rocky path and Janet's Foss is ahead of you. Pretty as a picture, the fall divides into two and tumbles into a greeny blue pool below.
The story is that Janet (Jennet) was the queen of the local fairies who lived in a cave behind the fall. Calcite from Gordale Beck has deposited itself on the moss surrounding the fall and has formed an apron over which the foss flows.
Somewhere in the limestone cliff is a cave, once used by the smelters who worked at the copper mines of Pikedaw, not far away. The plunge pool was used to wash sheep, ready for shearing in June, where the men would stand up to their waists in the freezing water. Apparently, it's a well known fact that strong drink kept out the cold!!! I wonder how many fingers were lost???
There is a footpath to the Foss from the village, following the beck through attractive ancient woodland. Certainly, the autumn colours were impressive as was the copper coloured ground littered with fallen leaves.
Malham village is oh, so popular, being on the Pennine Way and home to the spectacular Malham Cove. It attracts hikers, ramblers, cavers, rock climbers and probably lots more types, all drawn by the area's stunning landscape.
The village boasts two pubs, a posh B&B, a YHA, a campsite, a Blacksmith's and at least one cafe. Most of the buildings here date from the 18th century. Flowing through the pretty village is Malham Beck, crossed by it's clapper bridges which now boast handrails as the days of the packhorses with wide loads has long gone. On our visit, the trees growing along the riverside were turning beautiful autumnal colours, enhancing the pretty scene.
At the beginning of the village is the carpark and National Park Information Centre. A fair bit of information can be gathered here, along with plenty of walking leaflets to purchase, offering local walks that take in all there is to see.
Please see transport tip for parking info.
The Cove can only be visited on foot, and my, what a lot of feet pass this way, being on the Pennine Way.
It's a pleasant enough walk through the fields, along a concrete paved path that takes you to the foot of the 80 metre high limestone cliff. Seen from a distance, you almost get the impression of an amphitheatre, as it curves inwards at it's edges. The magnificent cliff was formed through ice and water erosion during the last million years, as melt water from the tarn ran over it's edge, falling as a waterfall at the centre of the cliff. Erosion occurred more here, thus forming the curved, amphitheatre shape.
Nowadays, the stream that mysteriously appears from under the cliff is believed to trace back to the smelt mill sinks, north west of the Cove.
What you do notice are the horizontal ledges (good spot for rock climbers!) obviously created by the differing hardness of the limestone. Also easily noticeable are the vertical dark stripes, formed by lichens and mosses growing and becoming coated in natural dirt in the air.
I must admit, I found the whole place very atmospheric and almost theatrical. It's hard to believe how forceful nature is, at times.
To the left of the Cove and part of the Pennine Way, there are hundreds of steps, all with different treads, taking you up onto the top of the cove, where the magnificent limestone pavement is.