Malham Cove, a 300-foot-high limestone cliff, remnant of an Ice Age waterfall, is a magnet for walkers, climbers, and artists. The beck, all that remains of the once powerful river, has sunk underground and now emerges as a small stream from the base of the cliff.
We walked the well-marked route from the village and found climbers dangling from those sheer walls, and other walkers gently wandering back, as the sun descended toward the horizon on that November day. But we reckoned we had time to reach the top for a spectacular view over the valley. 421 stone steps, some with very high treads, on a snaking route, took us from the stream to the limestone pavement up top.
En route, we encountered a much younger couple descending. The woman pointed us out to her male partner who bore all the resentment of an enforced country climb when he could’ve been in the pub, drinking the fine ale on offer in the region. ‘See; if two old codgers like them can make it without moanin’ what’s your beef?’ We weren’t intended to hear the remark, and I smiled as we passed them. ‘You’d never believe we’d still be doin’ this at 90, would you?’ Their looks moved through embarrassment to the intended humour and a laugh of relief as they realised I was exaggerating, just a bit (I’m 73, Valerie a few years younger), and they went their way, coming together to hold hands as we had all the way up.
The view from the top is worth the effort. Mind you, my knees complained on the return. If that bugger, Newton, had left things as he found them instead of inventing gravity, that descent would’ve been a dream! Ah, well, another day, another walk.
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