Gordale Scar in the Yorkshire Dales | North Photo

Gordale Scar in the Yorkshire Dales

Gordale Scar


On Friday I took a trip down into the Yorkshire Dales. Malham Cove and Gordale Scar have been on my to-do list for some time, but I just never seemed to get round to going. A couple of friends had been down recently so this reignited my desire to visit (thanks Joz & Marie). in fairness the Dales are a part of the country I haven’t spent enough time in, along with the North York Moors. Both are fairly accessible, within a couple of hours or so, and yet I’ve pretty much neglected both. Here starts a pact with myself to visit more…

Gordale Scar was the main focus for me on this trip. The Scar once was a cave, formed during the Ice Age from melt water. Its roof has long since collapsed, creating the gorge as is now seen. Pictures don’t do it justice: its height and sheerness is quite formidable. Gordale Scar and Malham Cove are both part of the Craven Fault, a 22-mile geological fault line running from Cumbria into the Dales. Along the fault line also lies the limestone pavements and waterfalls around Ingleton, including Thornton Force (another on my to-do list…).



The approach to Gordale Scar takes you down a windy and rather steep country lane out of the village of Malham right up to the gates of Gordale Scar Campsite. Through the gate the path intersects the campsite and follows the meandering brook up to the Scar. Looks impressive from here, but its nothing compared to what lies within.


Gordale Scar

The approach to Gordale Scar


There is an even and well-maintained path running from the road right into the Scar – on the photograph above the path runs just over the wall on the right.


Once you turn the corner into Gordale Scar you really see the scale of the place. As it closes in around you, you can’t help but look up to the cliff faces towering over you. Home to Peregrine Falcons, it’s worth keeping your eyes open (I didn’t see any). The path quickly turns into a scramble across boulders and over the widely-spread burn. The end of the managed path lies a sign stating “Take Care: Difficult Climb Up” which was certainly very pertinent. It was a damp day, with recent rainfall, so the rocks were slippy, especially around the waterfall. The path actually continues up the waterfall, which I declined to follow this time. Shame really, because it looked very impressive further up. Something to encourage me to return with friends and give it a shot…


Gordale Scar Waterfalls

The bottom falls within Gordale Scar


One of the best views from within the Scar was looking back out, with the left-hand cliffs almost resembling a giant’s foot:


Gordale Scar

Looking back out of Gordale Scar


A must-visit if you haven’t been before, and definitely worth trying to get the balance right in the weather. You want to aim for enough water to make the waterfalls impressive, but not so much that it makes the climb treacherous. There is a circular route that can be walked (details here) which takes you up through Gordale Scar, past Malham Tarn and back down via Malham Cove.


Thanks for reading, and take a look at the rest of my blog for details of other ventures, or at my galleries just to admire the visual part of my photography.



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