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  • Writer's pictureApril Boyes

Chasing Waterfalls

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

It's Saturday morning and after a hot breakfast...(everyone loves a hash brown) and much needed coffee, it was time for a Saturday hike in North Yorkshire. It's around an hour and a half from Manchester to get the Malham where the walk begins. A nice easy drive but long enough for some mandatory car singing on the way, and of course a stop for another coffee. It was a beautiful sunny day and we arrived around 11:30am.

We parked in the main car park in Malham before heading for the first part of the walk. The walk takes you through Janet's foss, an ancient woodland which gets its name from a local folktale that the small waterfall cascade, and cave is home to Janet (Queen of the fairies). The footpath follows Malham beck all the way to the waterfall. We arrived at midday and so it was a little busy ...we decided that it would be a good idea to return at dusk for another icy January dip! Not sure the 15 people admiring the waterfall wanted to see us get changed on the rocks.

After passing the first waterfall at Janet's foss, we head up the track towards Goredale scar. A huge gorge in the rock created during the ice ages. The melt water will have created these huge caverns that collapsed creating the waterfall seen today. In summer months when the water is less powerful it's possible to scramble up the waterfall. The limestone gorge is one of my favourite places in the UK and is approximately 15-16 million years old! We got a bit wet trying to get as close to the waterfall as possible, and I just love the misty moist air on my face an incredible feeling.

We couldn't scramble up the waterfall so we had to take the other route up to the top of Malham cove, where famously Harry and Hermione camp in the Deathly Hallows (for those Harry Potter fans). I would try and get here super early or late if you want to avoid the crowds. The limestone formation was formed by a waterfall carrying meltwater from glaciers at the end of the last ice age more than 12,000 years ago. The deep cracks in the rock are dramatic and impressive to see. The cove is also popular with rock climbers, but there were none to be seen on this bright sunny day. We found a little spot on the edge which was slightly less busy and had our hot chocolate and salmon and cream cheese bagels. A well needed energy boost!

Once we had explored the cove, it was time to hike out to Malham tarn which is along another steep and rocky path but not a difficult walk by any means. The wind chill near the Tarn was significantly stronger and didn't look like the most promising place to take a dip in the water. We talked about wild camping and how freeing it would be to just continue walking like this camp before moving on the next day. There is something about the outdoors which is just so good for your mental and physical health.

We walked a circular route back down towards Janet's foss as it was nearing 16:00hrs and we knew it would be quiet there now. A great chance to strip off and get into the icy cold water for a swim.

The water was ice cold with all blood immediately rushing to your core making your legs and feet fell completely numb. The waterfall is powerful though and almost magical!

It must be Janet and her fairies...just joking but it was an incredible experience and had it been warmer I could have stayed in there much longer enjoying the atmosphere.

I would highly recommend giving icy cold dips or wild swimming a try, especially in places like this where you are transported into a place of peace and serenity away from any of your thoughts and just completely immersed in the moment and how you are feeling.

This might be one of the last 'cold' blogs for a while as I am soon to be heading to the Caribbean to go sailing, and look forward to the adventures in the sun. I'm sure I can squeeze in a few more wintery one's first though.

Thanks for reading if you got this far, and please leave a like if you enjoyed it....until next time

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