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davidx Malham - A travel report by David
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Malham,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Malham and the West [Yorkshire Dales]

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The main division in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is between the limestone and the millstone grit areas. Even so I’m not happy about distributing places on this basis so here I’m covering Malham and areas west of it, predominantly limestone.

Malham Cove
Malham Cove
There’s no point in being competitive about the beauty of different Dales in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, although probably everyone could name their own favourites. The important point is that nobody who had seen them would ever want to denigrate Malhamdale, Kingsdale, Dentdale or the Greta, formed at Ingleton by the joining of the Twiss and the Doe. If magnificence goes with size, there’s not a great deal of it here – yet I never go there, after visiting beauties elsewhere, and find it even marginally below my expectations. So I’ll introduce it. Meet Malham, with Malhamdale named after it rather than after the Aire, which rises there. There are several places in the area worth seeing of which the nearest to the village is Malham Cove, a large prehistoric waterfall with a splendid limestone pavement on the top. There are usually climbers somewhere on the almost vertical cliffs. The clints in the limestone are miniature specialist habitats for wild flowers. However overuse was wrecking the path up the side of the gorge and this has necessitated some artificial pathways. Then there is Gardale Scar, about half a mile by road, somewhat like the cove but scaleable without climbing ability. Janet’s Foss is a very pleasant waterfall but it can hardly be thought in the same league. Lastly there is Malham Tarn [small lake] up a metre or so from the Cove. Next meet the so-called Three Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent. I hate the top of Whernside, the highest, largely because our collie bitch suffered and died from stomach cancer after drinking the water there – the rain had come straight from Chernobyl just after the nuclear accident. Anyway it’s a lump ruined by the Three Peaks Walk. Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent as well, both very shapely peaks with Ingleborough being potentially one of England’s best with an Iron Age hill fort at the top and the beautiful cave of gaping Gill to one side, show huge motorway-like gashes where the walk goes.

Favourite spots:
I far prefer some of the areas nearby, less noted but no less scenic and not ruined by overuse. I suppose a place that remains superb after Mike Harding has named it his favourite in his splendid book, Walking the Dales, [ISBN 0-7181-2701-3] will survive a mention by me. I simply love Moughton Crags, up above the little village of Austwick. Another favourite area is Twistleton Scars, consisting of widespread limestone pavements between the valleys of the Twiss and the Doe. You will only see a few people there, although botanically it’s as good as Malham. Lower down both rivers go into fine waterfalls and there is a walk going up the Twiss, along the base of Twistleton Scars and back to Ingleton by the Doe. Smashing walk for wet weather but sadly you have to pay – private land. Then not far from Twistleton is Chapel-le-Dale, a delectable spot with a fine little church. The primroses, cowslips and violets around here in the spring have to be seen to be believed.

What's really great:
Kingsdale is not noted for riverside scenes. It would be remarkable if it were, since for most of its length it’s dry – except for a brief time after particularly heavy rain. The river course has long been below ground. However it is the scene of a wonderful direct route form Ingleton to Dent [see sights below] and much of it is included in a circumnavigation of Whernside, about 19 miles with the rest on paths – and far away nicer than the ascent! Kingsdale is also well known by cavers. There’s one cave, Yordas, which was a Victorian show cave and you could go with your children with nothing more sophisticated than a torch each. Other caves here are for experts. The same applies to the caves around the Turbary Road [not a road but an old track for those with turbary rights; the right to cut the peat]. Caves at Alum Pot, near Selside in the Ribble Valley, and those at Ribbleshead should also be treated with respect.

Dent Church from outside the village
Dent Church from outside the village
The Ribble Valley is extremely picturesque around the area of Ribbleshead and down to Selside, Horton, Stainforth [waterfall and youth hostel] and Settle.
Settle is an attractive town with places to stay and eat and it contains the Museum of North Craven Country Life in a wonderful [Grade I listed building from the 17th century.
Dent is a particularly pretty village, the term applying strongly in its more favourable meaning-but recognisably in the less favourable sense of prettified as well. However there is no doubt that it is one of the areas best suited to young children for some first walks – and it should certainly be seen. The Dale is partly grit in its geology. A word of warning – Dent Station is not very close to the village – or to anywhere else. You may prefer to see it from a train window on the popular scenic run from Settle to Carlisle [or at least to Appleby].
See m/dentdale.html Dent Village can be obtained from here as well as the dale.

Dent - cobbled street to the Sun Inn.
Dent - cobbled street to the Sun Inn.
I have never needed to stay out in htis area as we used to have an ancient static caravan near Ingleton but my son and others have spoken highly of Beck Hall in Malham village.
The Marton Arms [under pubs] also provides accommodation.

The Buck, Malham; The Crown, Horton in Ribblesdale; The Marton Arms, Thornton in Lonsdale; Old Hill Inn, Chapel le Dale, Station Inn, Ribbleshead and The Sun, Dent are some personal favourites. There are numerous possibilities in Inglton and Settle.
I’ll throw in a geographical note here, as I won’t have room anywhere more obvious. Since 1974 Dent and its dale have been in the County of Cumbria [previously Cumberland, Westmorland, parts of Lancashire and this part of Yorkshire.] However it remains in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Brigflatts - old Quaker Meeting House near Dent
Brigflatts - old Quaker Meeting House near Dent
Most of the pubs above, if not all, serve food. We have found the Marton Arms particularly good, but that’s a bit back now.

Other recommendations:
Settle/Carlisle Railway - Ribbleshead Viaduct
Settle/Carlisle Railway - Ribbleshead Viaduct
Some websites will be helpful here.
First of all good mapping is all-important, if you intend to walk particularly. By far the best is swebsite/getamap/
For brief general information on practically anywhere in the area see ntents.html
For walks suggested by the Nat. Park Authority, s.php?PHPSESSID =6f1b325cec4398a3878e 52b6e33dd66b
For serious caving seek advice from [please do; I had a colleague drowned in a caving accident in the Dales.] and for climbing k/index.htm They’ll point you in the right direction even if it’s limestone you want.
For information on that lovely railway [part of our national network – if you can still call it that]
I’ll try to take some more photos later.

Published on Wednesday March 9th, 2005

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Tue, Mar 29 2005 - 03:42 PM rating by mtlorensen

Another great one! mtl
(Very sorry about your collie and your colleague! Natural beauty can provide a false sense of safety.)

Sun, Mar 13 2005 - 08:36 AM rating by mkrkiran

Great report David.


Thu, Mar 10 2005 - 05:02 AM rating by marianne

That was great! Loved to read about Malham where we rented a cottage some 20 years ago. Have you got more pictures?

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