Malham is one of the most popular places in the National Park - and it is not hard to see why, with the stunning Malham Cove and Gordale Scar easily linked into a circular walk which also takes you past the pretty waterfall of Janet's Foss.
Malham Cove the 70 metre (230ft) high, gently curving cliff of white limestone has amazed visitors for centuries. Over the last one and a half million years, Malham was probably covered at least three times with huge sheets of ice. As these glaciers ground their way over the landscape they plucked rock from the face of the Cove and carried it away. Each time the glaciers melted, huge floods of water further eroded the face of the Cove.
The water flows underground now, but then, the ground was permanently frozen and so the glacial meltwater had to run over the top. The result was that a massive waterfall once thundered over the Cove which made a spectacular reappearance in December 2015.
Today, the sheer rock face of Malham Cove challenges climbers and also protects a pair of nesting peregrine falcons which can be viewed during the summer months diving and wheeling alongside the house martins and jackdaws that also call the Cove home. Check out the Date with Nature page for further information on the RSPB viewpoint.
Gordale is another of the jewels in the crown of the National Park, this awesome hidden gorge 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.
There are accessible routes to the bottom of the Cove and 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.