The Gordale Scar was formed at the end of the last ice age when melt water from glaciers carved its way through the landscape resulting in this dramatic limestone ravine. It's in located near Malham in North Yorkshire.
When I first heard about the Gordale Scar, I was a young cub scout in my hometown of Paisley. I had a picture of it a book and I was very much in awe of it. Being so young, the Scar seemed a 1000 miles away from my hometown and 25 years would pass before I even thought about climbing it.
The Gordale Scar is a large limestone formation in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Several theories exist on it's formation which range from it being a large cavern that collapsed thousands of years ago to the devastation caused by the receding ice waters from the last ice age carving it's way through the Yorkshire landscape. I personally don't know how it was formed, only that there must have been some major event that caused this dramatic landscape to form.
The walk takes in the awe inspiring Gordale Scar, the peaceful Malham Tarn and the impressive limestone scar at Malham cove.
The small village of Malhalm in the Yorkshire Dales in the starting point for our walk to the Gordale Scar.
We drove from the City of York after our train journey from London Kings Cross. It was a perfect time of year to visit as there was still a bit of a chill in the air and the hills were capped with remnants of snow. Thankfully, I had checked the weather beforehand, so we were promised a good dry day, although the sky did look threatening.
We arrived at Malham, changed into our walking gear and started on our journey towards the Gordale Scar. We walked upstream away from the village next to Gordale Beck, through Webder Wood and eventually reaching Janet's Foss.
We made an odd discovery on our way through the woods. Some previous hikers had pushed coins into the surrounding trees. There were literaly 100's of coins pushed deep into the trees. I don't know the basis for this custom, but I'm sure it can't do the trees any good.
We reached the Janet's Foss which is in an enchanting setting. In the spring and summer, this place will be bursting in colour. One can almost imagine this place immersed in deep mythology and I can imagine that people in our past have created some long forgotten myths and legends based on this place. We relax here for sometime as we prepare ourselves for leaving the wood and Janet's Foss behind us and we enter into a landscape which is drastically different from any previous location.
We emerge from the woods into the dramatic entrance to the Gordale Scar. I feel some trepidation and awe when I look upon this limestone formation. The feeling felt by walking through the quaint and enchanting woods with it's many lush greens and suddenly exiting and looking upon this limestone wonder is hard to describe. As we walked across the
Gordale Bridge, the landscape became less and less colourful and a feeling of foreboding comes over me. The Gordale Scar is a huge gorge with near vertical sides and over 100 metres high (330ft). Gordale Beck flows through a cave at the top and plummets down a chasm. Further on you eventually find your way blocked by a large waterfall over which plunges the Gordale Beck. The best way to climb up the waterfall is to navigate your way up centre-left. There are plenty of hand-holds for you to pull yourself up, but be careful as the water does make this cimb quite slippery. There is also a route up the right hand side of the waterfall, however, there are less handholds and seemed quite dangerous to me. When I reached the top, I looked down and was quite shocked when I looked down and realised how high this waterfall actually was. At the top, we met another walker who was heading the same route as us, so we had good company as we continued our walk towards Malhalm Tarn.
Once you pass this obstacle, scree and boulders lead up left around a corner, passing a little waterfall coming out of a hole in a rock curtain above you to your right. You then break out through a drystone wall heading out along a smooth grassy track towards Malham Tarn. We continued on the road until we reached to a small clump of trees and head ed left just before we passed the trees. We then reached Malham Tarn. This was a good refreshments/lunch break and we sat, chatted with our new friend and ate our lunch. If you have went through the gate on your way to Malhalm Tarn, you will have noticed the sign heading the opposite direction to Malhalm Cove. We returned through the gate and followed the sign across grassland. The further we walked, the more I noticed that the grass was becoming less and less and more patches of limestone started to appear. The path soon went into the narrow grass valley. We passed an interesting cave on the left hand side which will be worth a look next time we visit the Gordale Scar in the spring/summer, but as the light was fading, we decided against the short scramble to the cave.
We continued onwards and soon we passed through a tiny gate atop a stile. We now found ourselves atop the famous limestone pavements above Malhalm Cove. There is some good exploring to be done here and some vertigo-inducing views to look down. It was almost totally dark now and our torches were beginning to fail, so we had to be careful as one slip could have resulted in a twisted ankle, or even broken bones. We descended into the valley below via a path after the limestone pavements. Once you're in the lower valley, you can turn around and explore the bottom of Malhalm Cove which is popular for rock climbers. We'll probably do this later in the year when the nights are lighter.
This is an ideal walk for youth groups and is recommended for older scouts and explorer scouts as it can encompass a lot of various subjects such as map reading, compass reading, rock climbing and it is a very good walk for young people and scouts to practice their hillwalking skills.
We then enjoyed a peaceful walk back to Malham and enjoyed a couple of pints of real ale and the local pub with our new walking companion.
Please view the gallery from thiis walk on Mobile Me by clicking here.
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