Yorkshire Dales – Malham

This used to be a torrential waterfall – about 50,000 years ago.  But the river decided to take a short-cut.

Malham cove
Malham cove

You may have guessed from the whiteness of the cliff that this is limestone.  The water dissolved its way through the limestone and eventually opened up a passage so that the entire river could go down a hole and appear at the bottom of the waterfall.

Malham Beck Appearing
Malham Beck Appearing

Now if you were to climb up the cove like these people:

Malham cove climbers
Malham cove climbers

then you would find yourself at the top in a dry stream bed:

Eric above Malham cove
Eric above Malham cove

I took the easy way up.  If you follow the dry bed another half mile upstream, you will see the river going down.

Malham Beck Disappearing
Malham Beck Disappearing

At least, that’s what everyone thought until recently – and in my case until a few minutes ago when I looked this up on Wikipedia.  It turns out that somebody poured dye in, probably to see how long it took to come out, and found that the beck that disappears is not the same one as appears at the bottom.  There is different one that also goes down a few miles away, crosses underground and comes out at the bottom of the waterfall.  Strange.

Even stranger, according to the Wikipedia article, divers have gone up that tiny hole at the bottom of the waterfall and explored several miles upstream in the maze of underground rivers.  You wouldn’t get me in there.

Beck? It’s English (Northern, or “real” English) for creek.

A bit further downstream is the village of Malham, which is very pretty.  Here’s my dad in front of one of the cottages.

My Dad in Malham
My Dad in Malham

You can guess, from the hood and from the smudge at the top of the picture which is a raindrop on the lens, that it is raining.  Or you could have guessed anyway from the fact that it’s September in the North of England.

Whatever the weather, the limestone country is spectacular.

 

Author: Eric Lawton

Eric is a natural philosopher living in rural Ontario

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