RECOMMENDATION | A Walk in the Dales- Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove
Departing from the beautiful Yorkshire Dales village of Malham this walk was recently voted number 3 of the top 100 walks in all of Britain by Channel 4 viewers and definitely deserves this accolade. It takes in 3 of the most stunning natural wonders in the dales and is also suitable for walkers of most abilities. In all, it is just under 5 miles so it will take about 2 to 2.5 hours or possibly slightly longer depending on how long you dwell at the landmarks and if the weather allows for packed lunching atop the majestic Malham Cove.
Park up at the National Trust car park just before the village. It’s a decent size and has toilets but, be warned, in the height of summer Malham gets very busy, particularly on weekends so parking spaces are like rocking horse s*&t.
Walk into the village and look out for a stone bridge over the beck on the right of the road before you get to the first pub, the Buck. Cross the bridge and turn right on to the track which will be signposted Janet’s Foss. The path will take you through pretty meadows and through several gates. The path will then enter the woods and keep following the signs for Janet’s Foss. The beckside path then meanders through the woods until you reach the beautiful Janet’s Foss. Foss is a Norse term for waterfall and the eponymous Janet is said to have been queen of the fairies who lived in a cave behind the waterfall.
Follow the path up from the waterfall until you reach the road and then turn right down the hill. You will pass a layby on your left which often has a coffee and snack van which provides a useful pit stop. Be aware no loo, which for most won’t be an issue but for those that have a bladder like peanut….. Just past the layby on the left you will see a path signposted Gordale Scar ½ mile. Follow this gentle path along the stream and you will emerge in to the truly stunning Gordale Scar. Created by glaciers over the millennia the ‘Scar’ guarantees lots of look up and ‘wow’ moments so just serenely stand, stare and snap!
More intrepid adventurers can, at this point, scale the waterfall and take a different path over to Malham Cove, lengthening the walk by about a mile but increasing its difficulty significantly. For the majority, it’s head back on the same path to the layby. Go through the gate on the path signed Malham Cove 1 mile. Follow this wide grassy path and through the next kissing gate going diagonally right through this next field heading for the stone steps to the far right corner. Go through the gate and left along the wall. Go down to and through a wooden gate at a wall junction and continue up along the same wall. Stay on this path which will be on the right-hand side of the wall. Carry on and at the road cross to the stile opposite but slightly to your right. Follow the path and you will shortly see a sign taking you diagonally left marked Malham Cove ¼ mile. Over a stile and you will come on to the almost eery limestone pavement that is the top of Malham Cove. Another result of erosion from glaciers the pavement is the perfect stop for packed lunches and offers amazing views across the valley. It also made an appearance in one of the Harry Potter films……can you guess which one? This really is a truly magnificent spot.
When you’re done admiring the view and scoffed your packed lunch, go to the far end of the pavement and you will see a path which takes you down some quite steep steps. Once down the steps, you can look back at the awesome Malham Cove in all its splendour. You may even see some crazy people trying to climb it. This will never be me.
Follow the well-worn path and you will meet the road which brings you back into the village where you can stop for a well-earned pint at either the Buck or the Listers Arms before returning to the car park where it all began.
I love this walk. Firstly because it has such variety but secondly whilst it may not be a long way or a giant hill, you feel a lovely sense of achievement and the place itself gives you a lovely buzz. I feel that Malham Cove wraps its self around you and warms the cockles of your heart. Like Yorkshire.
Thanks for reading folks, Toodle Pip for now! Amy xxx
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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