We are heading north for an epic day of hiking – exploring Malham’s “big five” – the Pavement, the Cove, the Tarn, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss.
At Malham’s Lister Arms, a steady stream of hiking boots clomp through the door. People come here for the great outdoors – and it was voted third in a recent poll of Britain’s 100 best walks.
After a quick coffee, we put our best boots forward and set off to explore.
We set course for Janet’s Foss – a wonderful waterfall with a crystal-clear pool. The waters were traditionally used for dipping sheep but now its main purpose is as a backdrop for pictures.
Towards the end of the valley, we approach the imposing Gordale Scar, a steep ravine that leads to an epic two-tiered waterfall.
We stand there in awe for a while, also marvelling at the climbers braving the 100m over-hanging limestone cliffs.
We then ascend to Malham Pavement. It has been on my list of places to go for years and I find myself wondering why we didn’t come sooner.
The limestone formation underfoot was created at the end of the last Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago.
It is cracked and eroded, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and of a pattern rarely seen in England.
The sun breaks through the clouds to light the scene perfectly. Climbing across the pavement is not for the faint hearted but I give it an unsteady go.
I am later told by Lister Arms manager Darren how a few years ago the water from the glacier lake came across the landscape and pavement and flowed down into Malham Cove for the first time in 300 years.
He tells me how people scrambled to see the sight, which last for six hours, elderly relatives being carried or pushed in wheelchairs to view a wonder of nature that had not been seen for generations.
Determined to get as much bang for our buck as possible in a day, we head to Britain’s highest glacier lake, Malham Tarn.
The landscape is dotted with sheep and cows as we make our way up, but apart from them it feels like we are the only living things for miles around.
Despite proclaiming that I could walk for hours, it is wonderful to finally return to the warm, comforting glow of the Lister Arms.
Our double room has all the charm you would hope for from a Yorkshire pub B&B and after a quick change we head to the bar and restaurant.
Dinner is as satisfying as you could hope – Yorkshire burger and a fillet of beef cooked to perfection rounds off what has been an exhilarating day.
And the gin and ale selection in the bar is the perfect balm to soothe aching legs.
Though it’s almost a sensory overload, hiking in the North Yorkshire Dales gave us but a glimpse of what this part of the country has to offer.
Winding our way back south, I realise this rugged landscape has quietly stolen a bit of my heart.
Until the next time, Yorkshire, with love.
GO: YORKSHIRE DALES
STAYING THERE: The Lister Arms at Skipton has rooms from £105 a night. See listerarms.co.uk for more information or call 01729 830444.
OUT & ABOUT: You can find out more about Malham and the area at malhamdale.com or daleswalks.com.
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