This is a very familiar walk for me, I’ve done it so many times in my life. Although, actually, the last time I did it, in December, we took a different route back to usual. But, basically.
Janet’s Foss is a waterfall near Malham, a very nice village in North Yorkshire. Its most famous feature is Malham Cove, which is a big limestone cliff that thousands of years ago was a waterfall – in fact, it briefly became a waterfall again during last winter’s floods, which I didn’t personally see, but I saw pictures, and it was impressive – not that it isn’t usually impressive. You can see it from far away, if you’re high up enough, it’s something you can pick out.
We didn’t actually go to look at the cove this time round. Usually when we go to Janet’s Foss we do come back over it, but this time we went back along the road instead.
So, the walk we actually did. You cross the river and go right, and just follow the path. It’s pretty straightforward and steady. It was all frosty when I was there, so that was pretty. One thing that did sadden me slightly was that there was always this tree at one bit of the path that I liked. It was sort of raised off the ground by its roots, with a little hollow underneath. When I was really little I used to like squeezing myself into. But now that tree has fallen over. I can’t remember if it was fallen last time I was there – well, the last time before last time – but it is now. So that made me slightly sad.
Anyway, after a while the path ends up being right next to Gordale Beck. It’s nearby there for a while in advance, but you end up following it upstream, until you enter some woods. If you go at the right time of year they smell really strongly of what I think is wild onions, but whatever it is I think it’s a very nice smell. Of course it wasn’t there on this occasion, but that’s one of the things the walk makes me think of.
And then you reach Janet’s Foss. The name comes from the fairy that is said to live in a cave near it. ‘Foss’ is a Nordic word for waterfall. It shows up a lot in this part of the country, due to Viking influence, although in all of the other instances I know of it’s spelt ‘Force’ – though still pronounced ‘foss’. At least that’s how I’ve been raised to say it. It’s not a very big waterfall, but it’s pretty, and there’s lots of space around it where you can have a rest.
The path from there goes up the side of the waterfall and to the road – you can take a little detour to the top of the waterfall if you like. Going left will take you straight back to Malham. If you walk a bit in the opposite direction you reach a bit where there’s a bridge over the beck, and usually a food truck. There’s a path off from this bit which sets you on your way to Malham Cove. But I won’t be talking about that here because it’s been a while since I’ve been that way, and I like to have a somewhat fresh memory when writing these up.
I did go take a look at Gordale Scar though. That’s through another gate further up the road, and along a path that, while not long, does make for quite a detour. I’m sure I must have been to Gordale Scar at some point in the past, but not that I can remember. I’m glad I went for a look, it’s pretty awesome.
And then back along the road to Malham, which was surprisingly rewarding. The road goes steeply upwards then down again to the village, and there’s some pretty awesome views both ways. Going over the cove makes for a nicer walk, but the road isn’t a bad option at all, and is faster.
And so you end up back in Malham. I have some pictures from the walk here, thanks for reading.