Malham Cove

Coordinates: 54°04′15″N 2°09′31″W / 54.070833°N 2.158611°W / 54.070833; -2.158611
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Malham Cove
Malham Cove is located in North Yorkshire
Malham Cove
Malham Cove
Location in North Yorkshire
Coordinates: 54°04′15″N 2°09′31″W / 54.070833°N 2.158611°W / 54.070833; -2.158611
Grid positionSD896639
LocationNorth Yorkshire, England

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 and rock climbing crag within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A large limestone pavement lies above the cove.


The waterfall at Malham Cove on 6 December 2015. Its height of 80 m (260 ft), for a few hours, made it the highest "single drop waterfall" above ground in England.

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.

A stream named Malham Beck originates on Malham Moor and emerges from a cave at the bottom of the cove. This is a different stream from the stream that flows out of Malham Tarn 1.5 mi (2.4 km) north of the cove. This latter stream goes underground at 'Water Sinks' about 1 mi (1.6 km) before the top of the cove and does not emerge until Aire Head, south of Malham.[1] 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 routes cross, without their waters mixing, behind the limestone cliff, re-emerging a few miles apart; indicating that there is a complex cave system behind the limestone cliff. Cave divers, entering the system through the cave at the base of the cove, have so far explored about 1 mi (1.6 km).[2] Stalagmite deposits inside the rising, dated to at least 27 ka, imply that the cave was dry during the Devensian ice age, and so must have been formed before then. [3] 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 since 1824 on 6 December 2015, after heavy rainfall from Storm Desmond.[4][5] [6]


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."[7]

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.

Rock climbing[edit]

The cove is popular with climbers offering easy to hard traditional climbs, as well as sport climbing, including the UK's first 9b (5.15b) grade sport climb, Rainman, by Steve McClure.[8] Due to the cliff's south face, it is a popular for rock climbing in winter; however, in summer, the face can become very hot.[9]

Media appearances[edit]

The cove, along with nearby Gordale Scar, was featured in an episode of the BBC TV series Seven Natural Wonders as one of the natural wonders of Yorkshire.[10]

The pavement was used as a shooting location for the 1992 film version of "Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights"[11]

The cove was also featured in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) as one of the places Hermione and Harry visited. The scenes were filmed in November 2009.[12]

The limestone pavement and general location of Malham featured in an episode of The Trip starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon which aired on BBC2 on 29 November 2010.[13]



  1. ^ "Watersinks by Friends of Yorkshire Dales". Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Malham Cove by John Cordingley". Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  3. ^ Waltham, Tony (2013). "Karst Geomorphology". In Waltham, Waltham; Lowe, David (eds.). Caves and Karst of the Yorkshire Dales, Volume 1. Buxton: British Cave Research Association. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-900265-46-4.
  4. ^ Brown, Jonathan. "Video: Storm Desmond causes Malham Cove to become stunning waterfall for first time in centuries". Yorkshire Post. Johnson Press. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Malham Cove: Storm Desmond brings 'highest' waterfall back to life". BBC News. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  6. ^ Murphy, Phil (2017). "Caves and Karst of Malham and Settle". In Waltham, Waltham; Lowe, David (eds.). Caves and Karst of the Yorkshire Dales, Volume 2. Buxton: British Cave Research Association. p. 443. ISBN 978-0-900265-48-8.
  7. ^ West, Thomas (1784). A Guide to the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire. B. Shaw; Richardson and Urquhart. pp. 232–233.
  8. ^ "Steve McClure climbs Rainman: Britain's first 9b". 5 June 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Malham Cove". 7 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  10. ^ "BBC - Seven Wonders - Malhamdale". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  11. ^ O'Neill, Jane (1997). The World of The Brontës. London: Carlton. p. 137. ISBN 1-85868-341-6.
  12. ^ Newton, Grace (26 June 2017). "Harry Potter at 20: The Yorkshire locations used in the films". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  13. ^ "The Yorke Arms, England, The Trip - BBC Two". Retrieved 9 January 2018.

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