Malham Cove is a large curved limestone formation 0.6 miles (1 km) north of the village of Malham, North Yorkshire, England. It was formed by a waterfall carrying meltwater from glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago. Today it is a well-known beauty spot within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A large limestone pavement is above the cove.
|Location||North Yorkshire, England, UK|
The cove was formed by a large Ice-age river that fell at this point as a cataract. The water drop was 80 m (260 ft) high and more than 300 m (980 ft) wide. The water flowing over the waterfall created the curved shape of the cove because the lip was more heavily eroded than the sides.
Today the water course is marked by a stream that flows out of Malham Tarn 1.5 mi (2.4 km) north of the cove. It goes underground at 'Water Sinks' about 1 mi (1.6 km) before the top of the cove. Another stream named Malham Beck emerges from a cave at the bottom of the cove. The two streams were once thought to be one and the same, but experiments with dyes have shown that they are two separate waterways that go underground at different places. Their paths cross without mixing behind the limestone cliff, re-emerging a few miles apart. The experiments show that there is a complex system of caves and tunnels in the limestone cliff. The system is estimated to be about 50,000 years old. Cave divers, entering the system through the cave at the base of the cove, have so far explored about 1 mi (1.6 km).
The cave systems usually carry away any water before it reaches the fall; however, Malham Cove temporarily became a waterfall for what is believed to be the first time in centuries on 6 December 2015, after heavy rainfall from Storm Desmond.
The priest and noted antiquary Thomas West described the cove in 1779: "This beautiful rock is like the age-tinted wall of a prodigious castle; the stone is very white, and from the ledges hang various shrubs and vegetables, which with the tints given it by the bog water. & c. gives it a variety that I never before saw so pleasing in a plain rock."
On the west side of the 80 metre (260 foot) high cliff face are about 400 irregular stone steps: these form part of the route of the Pennine Way and lead to an uneven limestone pavement at the top.
Today the cove is popular with climbers because of its number of climbing routes. The cove offers easy to hard traditional climbs as well as sport climbing, including the UK's first 9b grade sport climb. Due to the cliff's south face, it is a popular venue for rock climbing in winter; in summer, however, the rock face can become unbearably hot.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Malham Cove.|
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