River Aire 6
We took advantage of a pleasant morning, without that biting wind, to go to Malham for a short walk to the cove.
This was for my 'One River' series on the River Aire and when I was in Primary School we learned that the water coming out from the base of Malham Cove was the source of the Aire. There is some dispute about this now as the water originating from Malham Tarn above which disappears at Water Sinks was originally thought to reappear here.
Tests now show this to be wrong and the water bubbles up a little way south of the village at a spring in the middle of a field. This would make this Malham Beck heading down from the cove to the village but as the two join together very shortly after I think I will stick with my original belief and childhood teaching and call this the source. There are of course lots of caves in this limestone area and many underground streams and rivers so it is not surprising there is some confusion. (More here if you are interested)
The cove itself is an amazing feature of the limestone country in this area of Craven which is thought to be 50,000 years old. At the end of the Ice Age melt water created a massive waterfall here illustrated in this information board.
The lovely village of Malham is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. there have been settlements here since the 7th and 8th century.
The ubiquitous limestone (drystone) walls around the cove also show evidence of how people lived. It wasn't all sheep farming. Terracing can be seen amongst the walls for crop growing. The terraces provided deeper soil for the crops and apparently corn was grown as late as the early 19th century (there are remains of a corn mill nearby).
A lovely morning walk (stroll) with lunch after at the Old Barn Cafe where we bumped into a large group of walkers, several of whom we knew from our village. (It was one of them who told me about the reviewed ideas on the source of the river). They had walked from Langsett and were setting off back after stocking up on late breakfast at the cafe. We will probably see some of them in the pub later.
The map I have added this to definitely shows this as Malham Beck and the River Aire is labelled somewhere just below Gordale Scar. I can feel another visit coming on! Hope you'll join me.