Date - 13th April 2008 Distance - 12.5 miles
Map - OL2 Start point - Malham car park (SD 900627)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Parson's Pulpit 1766 538 SD 9183 6875
Great Close Fell 1536 465 SD 9022 6681
Malham Cove 1047 319 SD 8970 6411


The Walk

Sunday again so Dad had arranged to walk with Uncle Bob. We were up early and ready for off about 7.15am. We jumped into the car and settled down for the drive to the village of Malham. We waited patiently while Uncle Bob and Dad got their boots on etc, then hopped into the rucksack and set off. A short stroll through the village and over the bridge across the beck, took us along the Pennine Way for a few yards, before branching off along a good track that led into the woods. Uncle Bob had told us to look out for the money trees and we did not really understand what he meant. We soon realised when we saw some fallen tree trunks with lots of coins that had been hammered into them. Now we know where to come if we need some extra pocket money! It was quite enchanting through the woods and suddenly we came to this beautiful waterfall called Janet’s Foss.

Foss is the old Norse word for a waterfall and Janet (or Jennet) was believed to be the queen of the local fairies who lives in a cave behind the fall. At one time the pool was used to wash sheep, in a similar manner to the Wash Dub Field featured in our walk taking in Norber and Smearsett Scar.

The track then led to the road at Gordale Bridge, and here we went through a gate heading towards the gorge known as Gordale Scar where the cliffs towered vertically above us.

Rounding the corner the gorge was revealed in all its glory. We could see the waterfall rushing over the lip and in between was the rocky outcrop that Uncle Bob and Dad had to climb.

Dad picked his way over the rocks and then waded the stream to bring us below the rocky scramble.

Here two walkers are just reaching the top. Uncle Bob went first, pointing out the hand- and foot- holds. Uncle Bob said the rule is three points in contact at all times (e.g. two feet and one hand). The first part was the most difficult Dad needing to kneel on a ledge while he hauled himself up. Then followed a few more upward steps on the polished and damp rock to reach the top and level ground. It was a bit scary for us looking back down, but what a view and we had every confidence that Dad would not slip and we would reach the top safely.

Here there is another waterfall that plunges down through a circular hole in the cliff.

Uncle Bob kindly took this photo of Dad posing by the fall.

Photo courtesy Uncle Bob

After spending a little time taking in this awesome scenery, we climbed steeply up the path finally leaving the gorge behind, then across level ground through limestone outcrops to reach a narrow road at Street Gate.

Now it was decision time, as Dad had said he did not want to do a long walk today, and a gentle stroll along the road would have brought us to Malham Tarn and an easy return via the cove. However the temptation to "bag" another three summits was too much, so we set off to find and reach first the summit of Parson’s Pulpit. Our worry was that being Sunday we fervently hoped we would not be delayed too much by a long sermon.

Our route was the bridleway leading to Arncliffe. First over at times boggy pasture down to a shallow stream and boggy ground beyond, then the clear path made a long ascent to a gate. On then through yet another gate and down to a hollow, where we left the bridleway and made our way under the slopes of Clapham High Mark, to gently make the final ascent to the summit of Parson’s Pulpit. Here we jumped out of the rucksack so Dad could take our photograph to prove we had made it.

Its situation allows for fine views of the surrounding fells, nearly all of which we had climbed. Uncle Bob and Dad had their lunch here, enjoying a well earned rest, and we had our picnic sitting at the trig point. Usually these are columns as you will have seen from photos in previous walks, but in this case it was a circular dome shaped stone embedded in the ground, which can just be discerned in this photo. The fell behind is Great Whernside.

We have looked on the Internet but have to say we are at a loss as to why the hill is so named. We can only speculate that maybe in the long past, a parson did indeed deliver a sermon to a congregation here.

Well all packed up again, we finally set off on the descent and after climbing a wall, we reached a track called the Monk's Road, below the hill called Flask. This track is an old monastic route between the villages of Arncliffe and Malham. It seemed this was turning into quite a religious walk so it seemed appropriate that we were doing it on a Sunday. We were now on familiar ground, as this had been part of our route on a previous walk, when we had climbed Fountains Fell, Darnbrook Fell and Flask. It passes below Great Close Hill and today Uncle Bob and Dad were resolved to climb this and here we are at the summit shelter.

After a careful examination of the map Uncle Bob told Dad the descent had to be made in the direction the above photo was taken. It seemed we were going in the wrong direction but soon realised the wisdom, as the beeline direction would have led to vertical crags and an early demise!

Malham Tarn was passed to our right and the road reached. The ice cream van proved to be too much of a temptation and Uncle Bob kindly bought one for Dad and himself too. We decided not to have one, as it would have run all over our paws.

The Pennine Way was now followed all the way to Malham and the end of our walk, but not without more excitement. About half way we reached a stile and junction of paths where this signpost clearly displayed our route so far, and our on going route to Malham Cove.

Just a half-mile down a rocky path brought us to the cove. A huge curved wall of limestone cliffs that has the infant river Aire issuing from the base.

Before the Ice Age the stream now issuing from the base, had cascaded in much greater volume, along the valley we had just walked along, and then poured over the precipice in what must have been a magnificent waterfall. The top is a magnificent limestone pavement with deep fissures called "grikes", and care was necessary to avoid an accident.

From the base it was only a short distance to Malham village and the cars. We sat and had another picnic while Uncle Bob and Dad predictably went to the adjacent café for tea and chocolate cake.

More information about the places visited can be found at - www.malhamdale.org.uk.


shopify analytics