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Majestic Malhamdale - Walking in an incredible landscape

There are so many words to describe the spectacular scenery in the limestone landscapes around Malham in the Yorkshire Dales.

Something that I discovered again for myself on a morning walk today in the autumnal sunshine. Setting off early is always a good plan for Malham. It meant that I had the footpaths pretty much all to myself - certainly for the first hour of this short 4.5 mile route, and it was bliss.

Swaledale Sheep and Limestone Pavement

The babbling streams - with renewed water levels after recent rainfalls. Translucent and inviting, the ripples are soothing to watch and walk beside.

Stream in Malham

I followed the "Malham Landscape Spectacular" walk, which is set out in the helpful 'Welcome to Malhamdale' leaflet found in most shops and businesses in the Dale, albeit I walked it in the reverse order.

First of all, was the path to the ancient woodland in which Janet's Foss Waterfall sits.

Janets Foss

Always a hidden gem and it was all the more special for being the only person there. This is not something you can always say for Malham - indeed, far from it. But if you have the chance to visit and you can pick your time carefully - then immersing yourself in these landscapes promises something very special indeed.

After Janet's Foss the footpath crossed the road. Guided by these colourful signposts, I walked along the lane and through the gate to join the path towards Gordale Scar, with its majestic opening at the top.

Malham Signpost

Before I set off I had wondered if I would climb the waterfall today and walk up the path that rises out of the top of the waterfall, which from memory is really rather wonderful. When I got there, and saw the amount of water descending the falls, not to mention the pools that would have to be crossed to get there, I thought better of it. Next time, I'd bring company and my gaiters, perhaps my walking poles too, and I'd have a go. It's fun to plan for the next times, and knowing that it's a place you'll return time and again. Especially when Malham is just a 20-25 minute drive away from Newton Grange Cottages in Bank Newton.

Gordale Scar

Standing at the foot of Gordale Scar Waterfall is dramatic as the height of the rockfaces towering above you at either side make it feel like something out of a giant's landscape. It is also eerily cool, being quite sheltered from the sunshine.

Path to Gordale Scar

Saying goodbye to Gordale Scar and it was a short hop back down the path with the gentle stream to the side of you, back to the road to meet the cheery signpost again. Navigationally this walk felt very straightforward, albeit it is a route I know well of old, and there was little need to consult my map that was with me.

Over a stile and up the hill soon became one of my favourite moments of the walk. Not another soul in sight. Far-ranging views and such greenery, and yet, very sparse on trees. The intricate nature of the dry-stone walls stood out to me, as well as the historic field system patterns made by the walls criss-crossing the hillsides. I really loved this particular section of the route.

Green fields in Malhamdale

Limestone walls

Stone walls and barns

In a short while I had the company of some Swaledale sheep with their characteristic horns, and I like to think, smiling faces. The face of the Yorkshire Dales National Park if ever there was one.

Swaledale sheep

A pair of Swaledales

The sheep clambered on the stone and I walked on, pleased to look out to distant 'Pendle Hill' - far away in Lancashire, but a prominent landmark for all to see. I imagine the views from that such hill would also have been spectacular today.

Pendle Hill from Malhamdale

Pendle in the distance

The first glimpse of Malham Cove's famous limestone pavement opened up, with the backdrop of the Dry Valley behind it.

Views over Limestone Pavement

Dry Valley, Malham

Always plotting a future ramble, I was making a mental note to follow that pathway on another occasion.

The pavement really is quite something. The terrain underfoot isn't for the faint-hearted, with the clints and grykes and smooth nature of the limestone itself. Happily it was a dry and bright morning, but yet wearing sturdy walking boots with a good grip is always a good idea in Malham, as you navigate different terrain underfoot.

Limestone Pavement, Malham

I absolutely adored the views from the pavement. And still, an hour in to my walk, I was there in the hills by myself. I must have made an early-enough start to afford such an opportunity, but it wasn't the crack of dawn. That for me was part of the splendour of it - to be there without the crowds and to drink in the scenery. It really is spectacular and looks all the more so on a day blessed with abundant sunshine. Not something you always find in autumn, but today has had such sunshine in abundance.

Malham Limestone

Across the pavement, trying to find the route of the Pennine Way national trail, and then to descend the steps at the side of the cove. By this time in the walk, I saw five other people in small groups of one's and two's climbing the steps and reaching the top.

On the walk back to Malham village I paused a couple of times to look back at the view of the Cove. It really is quite something.

Malham Cove

At the end of the walk I pinched myself - that I had been able to walk in such breathtaking scenery so close to our home farm in Bank Newton.

Discovering the breathtaking beauty of Malham is definitely a worthwhile endeavour. If, like me, you have the privilege to enjoy it at a time when the footpaths are uncrowded and peaceful - with only the company of  sheep of the hillsides - then it really is sublime. Just the kind of headscape one needs, to feel re-energised again.

Procession of Sheep

That was my walk in Malham, and I hope you enjoy discovering the many footpaths from this popular destination in the Yorkshire Dales too. There are several very well set 0ut routes on the above link. Highly recommended for an enjoyable outing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Malham Cove