Malham Cove is a spectacular face of rock that is climbed by stone steps on its western fringe. The limestone pavements on it’s top are rightly world famous with good views over the stone walls and fields of the area.
There is one problem with a walk in Malham Cove. It is too popular. The day trippers flock to Malham and walk the one mile from the village centre to stand under the 250′ rock face. They take a photo and retire to one of the tea shops or pubs in the village. The walk to Malham Cove is the most popular mile of track in the Dales . Sadly only a small proportion of visitors climb the steps (how many!) to the west of the cove.
The limestone pavement on the summit of the Cove is one of the very best examples of clints (blocks) and grykes (gaps) in the Dales. Even though pounding of thousands of boots is noticeable it does not harm this spectacular spot. The large pavement shows how weathering and in particular ice has created fractures in the originally solid rock. These areas of weakness have gradually eroded to wider gaps creating the pavements of today.
There is no real access back down to the Cove on the eastern side. However if you carry on to the footpath above Sheriff Hill this does offer an interesting alternative back to Malham. Here the remains of ancient iron age settlements replace high heels, handbags and bored youths which tend to clutter the more popular path.
The stream which feeds the Cove comes from near Malham Tarn (2 miles further). However it disappears into the limestone near Watlowes before reappearing at a cave at the foot of the Cove. Have a look at where the stream disappears (called Water Sinks). It is only 1/2 a mile from the pavements at the top of the Cove.
When you are on the pavement above Malham Cove there is an easy path that traverses the rock face to the back of the rock. It avoids the scramble across the face.
The steps can be slippy after rain particularly when coming down them.
There is no real short cut to the top so it is best to walk directly there and back. I do not know how quickly you walk but it should take no more than 2 hours return.
I am interested to climb to the top of the cove – but are the steps too steep?
I’ve around 1.5 hours “at Malham Cove” and after my research, it seems like I may not have enough time to walk from Visitor Carpark to base of the cove, ascend, descend and walk back within the time. Is there any route that can bring me directly to the top? I will have a car.
It does not say that. The stream come from NEAR Malham Tarn
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