One of the jewels in the crown of the National Park, this awesome hidden gorge at Gordale has wowed visitors for hundreds of years and inspired famous artists and writers.
Like Malham Cove, this impressive natural feature was formed on the Middle Craven Fault. Unlike the Cove, however, the torrents of glacial meltwater that flowed over it cut down through faults in the rock. Successive Ice Ages have carved it deeper and deeper over thousands of years to create the deep gorge we see today. It was not formed by a giant cave collapsing as some have suggested. However, several smaller caves collapsing over the centuries probably contributed to the gorge being so deep.
The water that flows over the waterfalls at the heart of the ravine is rich in dissolved limestone. This has precipitated out onto the mossy rocks to create the soft tufa screen that is such a feature at Gordale. Climbing the footpath up it damages the tufa so please avoid doing so. An alternative route is available, call into Malham National Park Centre for details. The gorge is part of our popular 'Malham Landscape Trail', and you can buy the trail leaflet at the Centre as well.
We have recently engineered an accessible route up to the bottom of the gorge so that even more people can now enjoy the thrill. This is one of many such accessible routes published in our 'Miles without Stiles' booklet.