This series of posts describes one of those opportune moments where a free weekend lined up with the opportunity to allow us to slip away for an end-of-the-summer break, to the lovely hills and dales of Yorkshire. Yorkshire was a county about which we’d heard a great deal, but never had the chance to explore – after a busy summer, this was the perfect opportunity to relax.
We stayed in a charming little cottage in the village of Settle, from where we explored the surrounding area…
We began the first day with a walk towards one of Yorkshire’s most famous natural landmarks. As we approached, I was struck how every area of the UK seems to have it’s own countryside character. Yorkshire is undeniably “Yorkshire” but it’s hard to put your finger on why.
Malham Cove, an 80-metre wall of limestone that was the site of a large waterfall as the ice retreated at the end of the last ice age. Now, it’s a stunning rock cliff.
The river that must have once roared over the falls is now a small stream that issues from the base of the cliff and runs down the valley. It’s beautiful!
As you approach the cliff, the scale starts to become apparent. It’s one of those landscape features that looks quite small from a distance, but becomes truly vast up close.
Trees and plants abound around the base of the cliff, sheltered by it and fed by the water from Malham Beck.
From beneath, the cliff is truly massive. Standing and staring is a requirement.
What holiday could be missed without splashing about in a river? This is the view looking down Malham Beck, with the Cove behind the camera.
The blue sky peeked out on occasion, high up above the limestone – which was our next destination.
A short, steep climb leads to an area of limestone pavement on the top of the cliff. This is a beautiful karst landscape, formed by water erosion of the relatively soft limestone. The deep cracks play host to all sorts of delicate and interesting plant life, protected from grazing by the rock walls around them.
She’s a Joey on the edge! What better place to appreciate the height of a cliff than on the edge of it?
I was fascinated by the plants and life in the cracks between the rocks. Some of the crevices seemed to go astonishingly deep for such a small space. It’d be fascinating to be shrunk in order to explore them.
Heading back down the hill from the top of the cove, we wound through fields and between dry stone walls.
Back in the village of Malham, this red door caught my eye.
Our adventures continued – we headed onwards from Malham towards Ingleborough Show Cave. It’s fairly unusual in that there’s a reasonable walk from where you leave your car to the cave itself, along a wooded track up the hill and alongside a series of formal lakes.
The cave itself was absolutely fascinating – we had the pleasure of a wonderful guide by the name of John (all to ourselves, as we arrived fairly late in the day) who was engaging, knowledgeable and modest about his adventures. A true gentleman, and a brilliant tour guide. The cave is brilliant and well worth a visit – so do go. You can find out more here: Ingleborough Show Cave.
On balance, caves aren’t the easiest places to take photographs – light levels are very low and contrasty where they are present. This following shot is known as the ‘Pool of Reflections’ and resembles a mirage city in the pool.
Walking further up the valley from the cave, and you’re rewarded with a magnificent gorge called Trow Gill. It’s hard to take photographs that do the size justice.
I love how nature finds a way – this tree was clinging to the cliff wall, halfway up, well established and seemingly quite happy.
Heading back down the valley again, we came across a tree that had thousands of coins hammered into the branches. This practice allegedly stems from people leaving an offering in order to stave off illness. Whatever the reason, it’s certainly visually striking! Nearly every reachable branch of this tree was covered in coins of various sizes and ages.
Thus concludes day one – we headed back to the cottage and relaxed with a good book and a cup of tea. Check back tomorrow for Day 2 of this series!