Picture Post: The wonder of walking on Gordale Scar at night

A visitor uses a head torch to look around Gordale Scar near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park pictured at night.

One of the jewels in the crown of the National Park, this awesome hidden gorge at Gordale has wowed visitors for hundreds of years and inspired famous artists and writers.

Like Malham Cove, this impressive natural feature was formed on the Middle Craven Fault.

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Unlike the Cove, however, the torrents of glacial meltwater that flowed over it cut down through faults in the rock.

A walker with a head torch at Gordale Scar

Successive ice ages have carved it deeper and deeper over thousands of years to create the deep gorge we see today.

It was not formed by a giant cave collapsing, as some have suggested.

However, several smaller caves collapsing over the centuries probably contributed to the gorge being so deep.

The water that flows over the waterfalls at the heart of the ravine is rich in dissolved limestone.

This has precipitated out onto the mossy rocks to create the soft tufa scree that is such a feature at Gordale.

Climbing the footpath up it damages the tufa so visitors are asked to avoid it.

An alternative route is available – call into Malham National Park Centre for


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The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has recently engineered an accessible route up to the bottom of the gorge so that even more people can now enjoy the thrill.

It has been the inspiration for many of our greatest artists.

William Wordsworth wrote in the sonnet Gordale, “let thy feet repair to Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair where the young lions couch”.

JMW Turner also painted a picture of it in 1816, also to be seen in Tate Britain.

The waterfall was used as an exterior filming location in the 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal.

Technical details: Nikon D850 camera, 24-70mm lens, 4 minute exposure at f8, ISO 64.