This week our walk was around Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Malham is best described as a pretty little village, surrounded by limestone dry stone walls with a stream running through it. It was mentioned in the Doomsday book and has been a settlement at least a thousand years. It’s been on our list of ‘must do’ walks since we started trying to go out every weekend, and has been recommended to us a few times. Just over an hours drive from where we live we thought it a perfect location.
With it being the Easter holidays we knew it would be busy, and a few nights before there was a programme on ITV called ‘Best Walks with a view’ presented by Julia Bradbury, where she walked the surrounding area. I think most of Yorkshire had been inspired by the programme and had descended! Before we even made it to the visitor’s carpark we joined a stream of cars going in the same direction, people were abandoning their cars on any spare bit of grass verge and the chances of getting a space didn’t look good.
Luckily we did get parked and with a well packed picnic this time we were all eager to set off. Having crossed a pretty little brook we followed the signpost for Janet’s Foss, although with streams of people going the same way there was little doubt we were going the right way!
The paths here are really well kept and to the Waterfall it is pretty easy going with just a few gates. The only negative was that with the recent rain there were a lot of puddles and lots and lots of mud. Which is fine if you’re an adult with longer legs but my youngest was quickly covered and at times I feared her boots would be submerged! Daddy to the rescue and she was carried over the deeper puddles.
Just before Janet’s Foss you reach a small gate that takes you on to National trust Malham tarn estate land and a sign for the Bee library. Here Bee themed books have been made into Bee houses and there’s 12 of them to spot! The kids had great fun looking for them and it really is a pretty walk along the stream to the Foss. The waft of wild garlic growing was amazing.
I had been a little worried about the footpaths being crowded with the numbers of people we had seen, but as we are a little slower with little legs we didn’t need to worry. The area around the Foss was busy but we all got to have a look. There are plenty of walks in the area and people soon disperse like little ants across the many paths that weave up into the hills. Janet’s Foss is said to have a cave hidden behind the falls where a legendary fairy queen, Janet, once lived. My little lady would have loved to have seen the fairy queen but we didn’t spot her!
From the Foss we made our way to the magnificent Gordale Scar with its dramatic cliffs. You can’t appreciate how big it is until you round the corner and suddenly you are in the massive gorge.
There is a small waterfall at the back of the gorge, magically seeming to come from nowhere. We’d had a bit of rain in the days before so it was rather gushing down. This didn’t stop of group of daring people climb it and many of the guide books detail the walk you can take from here. I think you need to be prepared to get quite wet. We decided there was too much water and our children at the moment are too small. Looks great fun if you have the nerve but maybe on a day when the water is just a trickle!
We made our way back out of the gorge and to the original footpath. Here, there are a couple of footpaths that you can take. We were supposed to be following a route in a walking book but at this point my map reading skills let us down and we turned left. Had we turned right we would have followed the book and walked several more miles, as it was in the end we were glad with the walk we did. What did we learn? Don’t trust me with the map!
This footpath led us around a dry stoned wall and with a picnic stop on the way we were on our way to, the now signposted, Malham Cove. The going so far hadn’t been tough, perhaps a bit steep in places but nothing that we haven’t come across before. I was really disappointed that my hip and IT band had really started causing me pain with nearly every step. This was easy, why was it hurting now? I can only think that as we made our way across this bit of the walk the sheer amount of mud had made things difficult. We had tried to pick our way through as best we could but all of us were struggling as our feet slithered to stay upright. I felt like Bambi on ice! Annoyed, I took a few painkillers but was determined to carry on, ignoring a road that would have led us to civilisation.
Walking down a field you suddenly come across the cove and the limestone pavements. It’s so spectacular and we hadn’t even got there! There were quite a lot of people here but it didn’t ruin the experience and we all had plenty of room to explore. My son loved jumping from rock to rock once he’d built his confidence. My daughter being smaller was terrified of falling down the gaps and clung on for dear life to Daddy. The view across the cove was amazing and I can see why it’s so popular with walkers, rock climbers and film makers.
Having crossed the cove and limestone pavement we now had to get down the other side. Steep, slightly uneven steps lead you down to the footpath below. We were slow getting down, meeting people coming up and lots of dogs running up and down. My legs were a little shaky although my hip pain had worn off slightly. From the bottom we enjoyed the view back up and watched the rock climbers.
In this area there is the chance to spot Peregrine Falcon’s that have nested in the area since 1993. The RSBP and National Dales Park authority run a viewpoint here where you can try and spot them for free. It was a bit busy so we didn’t this time but it’s definitely on the list for next time. More details here on the Malham Cove Peregrine Falcon’s on the Yorkshire Dales website.
Following the footpath we made our way back along the road and another little footpath back to the village. We finished our picnic on a little bench by a stream in the sunshine, although there looked to be quite a view choices of places to eat with at least two pubs and a café spotted.
We had a lovely walk, I was a bit disappointed with my hip and leg and we had missed Malham Tarn but there’s always next time!
All views are my own and I’ve not been paid to write this blog.
What makes a great picnic? Does your family have any marching songs? We’d love to hear about them so comment below.