Sheer face of Malham Cove makes for Yorkshire Dales climbing hotspot

A climber at Malham Cove. Picture Bruce Rollinson
A climber at Malham Cove. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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The sheer rock face of Malham Cove is viewed by most with two feet firmly on the ground at its base.

But the 230ft high formation is also one of Yorkshire’s ‘big three’ climbable cliffs of white limestone.

Alongside the fellow Yorkshire Dales spots of Kilnsey Crag and Gordale scar, the cove attracts sport climbers from all over the country, feeling challenged to take on its gently curving face.

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For those less adventurous, a half-hour stroll from Malham Village brings you face-to-face with the dramatic scenery.

And if you can manage the steps beside the cove to reach the top, the reward is not only in the spectacular views over the Dales countryside but too in the remarkable area of limestone pavement above the cove, which has featured in films including the seventh and penultimate instalment of the Harry Potter series.

According to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the cove has been eroded by water and ice over thousands of years.

“Over the last one and a half million years, Malham was probably covered at least three times with huge sheets of ice,” it states.

“As these glaciers ground their way over the landscape they plucked rock from the face of the cove and carried it away.

“Each time the glaciers melted, huge floods of water further eroded the face of the cove.

“The water flows underground now, but then, the ground was permanently frozen and so the glacial meltwater had to run over the top.

“The result was that a massive waterfall once thundered over the cove.”

For a brief stint in 2015, heavy rain and flooding caused that waterfall to re-emerge. Its rare appearance was captured on camera by surprised visitors before it returned to its usual dry state.

Today, as well as being enjoyed by tourists and locals each year, the cove is also home to a range of wildlife and is said to have been a successful nest site for Peregrine Falcons since as far back as 1993.

Technical details: Nikon D4, Lens 400mm, Exposure 1/1000 sec at f16, ISO 800.