This is surely one of the best walks in the whole country, It’s certainly in my all time top three. Starting from the car park in Malham (about 4 quid for the day), walk into the village then take the path over the river by the clapperbridge on the right hand side just after the cafe.
Cross the river, turn right and follow the path through a couple of kissing gates heading for Janets foss. The path is obvious and waymarked. A kissing gate takes you into the woods as you approach Janets Foss, a magnificent waterfall with a cave behind it. (Janet being the “queen of the faires, who, legend has it, lives in the cave behind the waterfall”), this really is an enchanted spot, especially on a sunny day.
From the waterfall follow the path up a few steps on to the road, follow the road for a 100 metres or so, over the river bridge before entering a field on the left via a kissing gate, on to the path to Gordale Scar. Follow this broad path through magnificent limestone scenery in to the gorge. at first glance this seems to be the end of the path. Not so, the path climbs to the left of the gushing waterfall. It’s a hands and knees scramble up the side of the waterfall, but absolutely worth it. If you don’t fancy climbing this, there is an alternative route. ( please see notes at bottom of this webpage).
The climb up the side of the waterfall is exhilerating, after the initial scramble the path then becomes obvious as it climbs up the steep gorge via steps in the limestone rock, all the time the water is gushing down into the gorge on our right. The top of the gorge is an ideal place to stop for a flask of coffee and a cheese butty and to look back on your achievement. The gorge in front of you looksl ike a smaller version of the Grand Canyon.
From here the route is an obvious path accross the top of the moor that eventually leads onto the road at a wall stile. Turn right and follow the narrow tarmac road until you reach a crossroads and then turn left. follow this road for approx half a mile before crossing a small stream (the outlet of Malham Tarn) and turning left through a kissing gate signposted for Malham Cove. You can’t miss it, everyone goes that way and there’s usually an ice cream van there!!
Follow the well trodden way into the “dry valley”,
this route was once the course of the river. It is now dry as the river
dissapears into the ground at “Water sinks” the limestone swallowing up
the river. The way forward
is obvious and the scenery spectacular a the sides of the valley
steepen. Follow the path which soon turns to the right before you then
turn sharp leftt by a Pennine Way signpost to descend in to “Malham
lings” down the
limestone steps. Turn right the bottom (you can’t turn any other way!)
and follow the gorge all the way to the Limestone pavement on top of
Alternative route avoiding Gordale Scar
If you don’t fanct climbing the waterfall, or the weather prevents it, an alternative route is available. Re-trace your steps from Gordale Scar back to the road, just before the bridge take the kissing gateon your right and head up the hill, a steady climb soon leads to another kissing gate, pass through this and follow the obvious path onwards with astone wall on your left hand side. The view opens up with a magnificent Yorkshire dales vista ahead of you.