Malham Cove, a limestone cliff formation 1km north of the village of Malham, is believed to have become the highest unbroken waterfall in England after water began shooting over its 200ft-plus high cliff due to the weekens’s freak weather.
The tallest unbroken waterfall in England is Hardraw Force, near Buttertubs Pass, which stands at around 100ft.
It is believed that it is the first time in several hundred years that water has surged over the cliffs of Malham Cove.
Alan Hulme, Yorkshire Dales National Park’s head of ranger services, said the water systems were so full from the incredible amount of rain that it flowed along what has been known as Dry Valley and over the top of the cove.
Mr Hulme, who has lived in Malhamdale for 30 years, said most of the village turned out to see the spectacle.
“It was truly amazing,” he said.
“The cove was formed in the Ice Age and melt-water created a natural amphitheatre 300 metres wide and about 80 metres high.
“We are struggling to find out the last time it flowed as a waterfall.
“People are saying for one day, and one day only, it was the biggest unbroken waterfall in England.”
The 260ft drop was around two-and-a-half times bigger than England’s usual record holder, Hardraw Force, also in the Yorkshire Dales.
Mr Hulme said: “There was a lot of interest in it yesterday and while the weather put off a lot of visitors, it was picked up on social media quickly.
“The people who saw it have been very fortunate.
“It was just a fantastic experience.”
Mr Hulme has been trying to find out the last time water tumbled over the top of Malham Cove, with some people saying it happened in the early 19th century, others in 1720 and some going as far back as the Ice Age.
“There is a lot of hearsay,” he said. “We may never know.”
The occurrence comes after Storm Desmond tore through Britain, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, to the region and causing Cumbria to declare a major incident. The Environment Agency made 130 flood warnings, including at the River Ure, at Ure Bank, in Ripon and River Swale at Richmond, while residents in some parts of the country have had to be evacuated from their homes and there were a number of road accidents involving heavy goods vehicles.