Malham Cove - Stunning views millions of years in the making

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Malham Cove and its world-famous limestone pavement is one of the UK’s greatest natural wonders, a place for tranquillity and reflection for centuries.

The 230ft-high, gently curving cliff of white limestone was formed along the line of the Middle Craven Fault.

According to a spokesman for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it is believed that Malham was probably covered at least three times with huge sheets of ice over the last one and a half millions years, with the glaciers first plucking away rock as ice before melting caused water to further erode the face of the cove.

There was once a massive waterfall over the Cove but water now flows underground. However, the change means the sheer rockface protects a pair of nesting peregrine falcons who can been seen during summer months alongside the house martins and jackdaws that also call it home.

As 18th-century priest and antiquary Thomas West described it in 1779: “This beautiful rock is like the age-tinted wall of a prodigious castle.”

It is unsurprising that the site has been and continues to be an inspiration for walkers, climbers and filmmakers alike.

Malham Cove famously featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, in a nail-biting scene when Harry and Hermione hide from Lord Voldemort in a rocky camp.

It was also part of an amusing scene in the first series of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s acclaimed comedy The Trip. Coogan’s character, who has just lectured Brydon about the area and its history, makes it to the top of the rocks and is savouring the view when a fellow walker comes along and starts telling him in detail about the geology of Malham Cove. Unable to get a word in, Coogan makes his excuses and leaves as the man carries on talking, oblivious to the effect he is having.

While too much information at the wrong time has the potential to spoil a beautiful view, knowing the extraordinary background to Malham Cove in advance to a visit makes the stunning setting which has been millions of years in the making even easier to appreciate.

Technical details: Nikon D4 camera with 17-35mm Nikkor lens, 1/500th sec @ f10, ISO 200.

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