That’s me. Sitting on the very edge of the Malham pavement looking back down the valley towards the village….
No it’s not! Well it is me (of course), but I’m not actually sitting on the very edge. I’m not that brave (or stupid..)
If you’ve not heard of it the Malham Pavement is made up of a series of ‘Clints’ (blocks of limestone) and ‘Grykes’ (the gaps in between the blocks) and covers a large area at the top of the cliff at Malham Cove. Interestingly, both the Cove and the pavement are featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (only interesting, granted, if you are into Harry Potter. If you are look for my post on Goathland, whose train station doubles as Hogwarts).
Malham itself sits in the south-west of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. At the end of our trip around the UK we already knew that we would return to this area, but in the end chose to do so as a daytrip from the perfect little campsite that we had found in Knott End, just north of Blackpool (Bluebell Cottage – click for more details). It is about 50 miles away but the roads are good and it doesn’t actually take too long to drive it. We visited The Ribblehead Viaduct on our way home as well.
So, first stop Malham itself, a pretty little village popular with walkers and tourists,
boasting a National Park information centre and café (and car park), 3 or 4 pubs & cafes and a choice of accommodation. A little river (Malham Beck) runs through this charming little village and many a walk starts here (details for several options are shown at the National Park Centre).
We parked on the outskirts of the village along the side of the road (with many other cars – the usual charges apply in the car park, and it was pretty full anyway..). Once we were ready to set off on our walk (boots on etc.) we looked back up the road to see it was completely blocked by a flock of sheep being moved!
We set off through the village (past the dog, mud and boot friendly pubs and tea-rooms) heading for the Cove and pavement. It’s not far and is a pleasant walk (and popular too). At the Cove we headed towards the limestone cliff-face which entailed a precarious walk picking the most stable dry stones along the river… Easy for Calv, but a bit more of an adventure for me! We both made it though and sat watching the group of climbers on the cliff, and a young family with 3 youngsters having a whale of a time on the opposite bank 🙂
Eventually we decided to move on, which meant climbing the steps up to the top of the cove to the pavement (after negotiating the riverside boulders for a 2nd time…). Calv practically skipped up there – I took rather longer (I’d like to think that now, with all the exercise I’ve been doing, I’d cope much better with these ‘challenges’!!)
The pavement is not at all easy to walk on! Some of the gaps are quite large (and they are nearly all quite deep – the greenery you see in the photos below hides the gaps themselves!), and the limestone blocks are often very uneven. We both found ourselves having to carefully negotiate a route across. The views from the top are simply breathtaking though and I would most definitely recommend a visit 🙂
We continued our walk – we were taking a circular route back to the village via Janet’s Fosse, along the riverbank. We had a number of fields and hilly bits to negotiate, but overall it was a pleasant walk – we even found a tea van en-route (in the middle of nowhere) which was most welcome. We sat with our drinks listening to the river babbling along behind us before we set off again towards the waterfall.
Janet’s Fosse is a magical spot on the river, very peaceful.
We completed our walk following the river back towards Malham, from where we headed off towards Ribblehead to see the iconic viaduct, via Malham Tarn – a large lake high in the dales.
The Ribblehead Viaduct is one of the feats of Victorian Engineering so revered today. Built between 1870 & 1874 there were several camps that sprung up to house the navvies who built it, providing the inspiration for the drama Jericho that aired a couple of years ago. (It was good – I watched it!) Much evidence of the camps has been found close by, such as on the land by where we parked.
A 5 minute walk from the main road brings you to the viaduct itself, which is hugely impressive. The curve at the time was apparently highly unusual. There is a commemorative stone built beside the structure.
There’s always next time though – I’m pretty sure we haven’t finished with the Yorkshire Dales!