I’ve met tons of people over the years who’ve known of Malham from their geography/geology lessons in school.
For those of you who have never heard of it before, it’s a small village in North Yorkshire, tucked away in the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales – approximately 11 miles from the market town of Skipton.
Malham is directly on the Pennine Way, and the pubs, campsites and YHA in the village mean that it’s often an overnight stop for walkers on the long distance path.
It has incredible limestone cliffs only a short distance from the village centre and visitors spending time in the outdoors here can enjoy a mix of moorland, farmland and woodland.
It’s not difficult to see why I love the place so much, but here are just 5 of the many reasons:
1: Limestone, limestone, limestone!
Check out the 260 foot high Malham Cove (accessed from the village centre by a wide path suitable for pushchairs) with it’s incredible limestone pavement on the top and dry valley beyond (which in December 2015, for the first time in my lifetime, had a few days with a waterfall).
The Cove was featured in a Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), has been featured on TV programmes (one of the most recent was walking with Julia Bradbury) and is a source of inspiration for many writers, artists and photographers.
If you only visit to see one thing, then the Cove should be on the top of your list.
However, you’d be missing out by not seeing Gordale Scar – a huge limestone gorge around 1.5 miles from the village.
I love the fact that when walking towards Gordale Scar, you’d never even know it was there until you turn a corner and it opens out before you.
My all-time favourite walk (yep, honestly) starts from the village and heads via Janet’s Foss to Gordale Scar – climbing up the waterfall itself to gain access onto the moors above. The scramble up the waterfall is not technically difficult, but there is always a risk involved in anything of this nature and it can be very wet/slippy at times. From there, the walk goes up onto the moors to drop back down the dry valley above Malham Cove, then back into the village.
2: River Swimming
From the tiny streams high up on the moors where we had family picnics, to the lazy summer days when all the local kids headed to the small waterfall and pool near Town End campsite, to the teenage years spent laiking about in the big pool underneath Janet’s Foss.
I have many happy memories of days spent playing in the rivers around Malham.
The village itself has a beck running through and was a great place to play as a kid. Embarrassingly, on one occasion in my late teens, it was the scene of a missed step onto the footbridge during a dark drunken walk home from the pub.
Which brings me nicely to my third point.
Perfect if you fancy a pub crawl!
Joking aside, the pubs are all old buildings and full of character – perfect for a pint, good meal or just an evening cuppa after a day out in the hills.
One of my favourite crags to climb in the area is Stony Bank, for the setting if no other reason – incidentally in the valley above Gordale Scar.
5: Wild Garlic
Since moving away from the village, one of the things I’ve always aimed to do is return to the woodland near Janet’s Foss in early May when they are full of wild garlic (great for a wild garlic risotto).
I’ve always found that there’s something magical about the woodland around Janet’s Foss. Maybe they really are – the cave behind Janet’s Foss is home to Jennet the queen of the fairies.
Janet’s Foss is a gentle walk from the village alongside river banks and I’ll happily wander along here at any time of year – whether it’s the height of summer for a dip in the water, late spring for the wild garlic or the middle of winter for walk before a pint in front of a cosy open fire.
So that’s 5 reasons for you, but I’ll be honest and say that there are a hundred more.
Malham has always held a special place in my heart and always will. So if you’ve never visited, add it to your list and check it out one day. If you have visited, I reckon you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Lots of the links on this article have come from the site www.malhamdale.com which is packed full of even more information about things to do and places to stay or eat.
Finally, here’s a picture of the dry valley waterfall and river during those few days in December 2015 – purely because I found it such an incredible event: