Monday, 9 January 2012

Yorkshire Dales Road Trip.

After what seemed like weeks and weeks of miserable weather, the sun finally appeared and as a bonus, it fell on my days off. The previous days rain and storms had flooded lots of road both in the Lakes and in the Dales. My original intention was to head to the Coniston area in the Lakes but it was announced on the radio that the A591 was closed due to flooding so that scuppered that plan.

My next thought of a suitable destination was the Ingleton area but after driving through flood water in Gargrave, I decided the best bet would be to go somewhere local. Malham was the obvious destination.

After negotiating another couple of flooded country lanes I finally parked up in a bitterly cold Malham and got into full winter gear: ie woolly hat, two fleeces, gloves and scarf. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with blue skies all round. I took some shots in the village and then headed off to Malham Cove.

Malham is one of the Dales's honeypots but I think the floods and high winds had put a lot of people off as it was almost deserted. It was a perfect day for photography though and it was a great feeling to be out in the fresh air again. I spent ages at the Cove, it's such an impressive place and very hard to turn your back on, I suppose I am lucky living within an hour of it. My return path via the little stone slab bridge over Malham Beck was cut off by the floodwater so it was a case of returning via the Pennine Way.

"Originally, a large waterfall flowed over the cove as a glacier melted above it. The remnant of a stream which once fell over the cliff now flows out of the lake of Malham Tarn, on the moors 2 km north of the cove. That stream now disappears underground at the aptly named 'Water Sinks', 1.5 kilometres (one mile) before its valley reaches the top of the cove. A stream of a similar size (Malham Beck) emerges from a cave at the bottom of the cove. It used to be assumed that the two streams were one and the same. However, experiments with dyes have now shown that two separate streams go underground at different locations, cross paths without mixing behind the cliff, and re-emerge a couple of kilometres apart. This shows the complexity of the system of caves behind the cliff, which is thought to be around 50,000 years old. Divers have so far explored over 1.6 km of cave passage entered from the base of the cove.
The lip of the cove has been more heavily eroded than the sides, creating a curved shape. A colossal amount of water used to flow over this waterfall, which measures 80 m (260 ft) high and over 300 m (1000 ft) wide. Nowadays the underlying cave systems have a large enough capacity to swallow any flood waters before it reaches the fall. The last record of water flowing over the fall in any kind of volume dates back to a period of heavy rain in the early 19th century.
The valley was formed at the end of the last ice age when the ground was frozen. The frozen ground meant that meltwater from the melting ice sheet formed a large river flowing over the surface, eroding the valley that we see today. The water from this river flowed over Malham Cove to form a huge waterfall. When the climate warmed around 12,000 years ago the ground thawed and the river in the valley disappeared underground leaving the valley dry as we see it today." - Wikipedia

I resisted the call of the Buck Inn and instead decided to have a drive around as it was still only lunchtime. After carrying on the A65 to Settle, I headed into the Three Peaks area and stopped in Horton to take some photos of Pen-y-Ghent and then drove on to Ribblehead. The sun was getting pretty low by this time and the light had entered the golden hour: everything looked to be on fire so yet even more photography followed as conditions like this don't happen every day.

I really should have called it a draw there and then but instead I carried on up to Wensleydale and luckily caught last of the sunlight up there but by the time I had dropped down to Hawes, the sun was below the fells and it was bitterly cold. I had a short walk around the town basically just to perk me up a bit for the drive home. That's the problem with these road trips, you always have the prospect of a long drive back home.

I came back via Bishopdale and then Wharfedale by which time it was dark. Also temptation was resisted both in Kettlewell and Grassinton of calling for a pint as this would have added an extra hour onto my trip and all I really wanted to do by then was get back home to a warm house.

The long day and long drive had been well worth it but I was glad to get back home, the last part of the trip from Skipton onwards is always a complete pain no matter which way you try and avoid the traffic.I'd had a smashing day out though.

Buck Inn Malham

Packhorse Bridge Malham

Packhorse Bridge, Malham

Beck Hall, Malham

Field system with drystone walls above Malham

Malham Cove

Above Malham

Malham Beck

Malham Cove

Pennine Way

Berries, Malham Cove

Close-up Malham Cove

Malham Cove from Pennine Way

Winter Berries

Parting of the ways.

Pennine Way signpost, Malham

Moon above Ribblesdale

Pen-y-ghent from Horton

Moon above Ribblesdale


Ribblehead Viaduct



A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...