Sparkling Gems of Malham
The Pikedaw Caverns and Beyond ...
Looking back to Malham backed by the Cawden Reef Knoll which once separated shallow and deep water. It is a great place to find fossils.
I like Butterlands Barn best. It sits in a fabulous scene with the two fells and the Craven Fault showing well. Great name, too.
Butterlands Barn. The white limestone of Pikedaw Hill contrasting with the forbidding tones of grit on Kirkby Fell. The pasture beyond was years ago known as 'Slevina' but no-one knows why.
The fall from above. Don't try this - it was daft of me! One hand holding the fence, the other the camera ...
The dip in the middle represents the line of the Mid Craven Fault. Grassington Grit here contrasting with the uplifted Great Scar Limestone.
This is perhaps the best picture of the Mid Craven Fault. You could almost imagine the ground still moving here. There have been local tremors, you know!
As the path reaches the summit we meet the famous Pikedaw Calamine Caverns - natural caves mined for calamine (an ore of zinc used in the brass industry) as well as copper and lead. The mineral veins lie between the Great Scar Limestone and the lowest limestone layer of the covering Yoredale Beds - which have now been largely eroded away. The mines were most active in the early 19th century. This is a more recent shaft sunk into the caverns - down which cavers descend. It is the muddiest place on earth!
If you do lift the lid and peer down, careful you don't trap your fingers when closing it again. Ouch!
You go down the ladder and then jump the rest!! Only kidding - my friend tells me the ladder went all the way down once - but dafties tried descending without lifeline ropes. Presumably this last stretch helps cavers on the last few feet to the surface.
This cairn marks the position of the original shaft - which is highly dangerous. Levels were also sunk into the hilldside further down the valley to meet up underground. Malham Tarn is glinting beyond. This lies on the North Craven Fault, where basement rocks (slates) have been lifted to the surface and therefore hold the water. The two faults are here only a mile and a half apart!
If you do take the planks off be extremely careful. It's largely filled with rubble at the top but you don't want to be falling in ...
As well as tiny fragments of calamine, I found barytes (white) and the brilliant blue and green ores of copper - azurite and malachite respectively. A surreal place which glistens in the sun.
The nearby Nappa Cross contains only a base and upright, built into the wall. Before enclosure it would have been a prominent landmark for monks on their travels, marking the meeting points of the moorland bridleways.
There are many small caves in the area - these are the Twin Bottom Scar Caves - but on the whole Malham is not noted for its extensive caves as the topography lacks the steep Yoredale slopes of the Three Peaks area which funnel water rapidly onto the limestone. The underworld, however, holds many mysteries still being investigated, particularly by divers.
This is the Langscar Iron Age Village. There are many huts and enclosures separated by banks of boulders and turf ..
This boulder, central in one of the huts, has a notable recess which may well have held a post to support a roof structure.
I returned to Malham via the famous dry valley of Watlowes. Massive torrents of meltwater once scurried down here and caused chaos, jumping over a series of falls ...
But nothing compares with the stupendous Malham Cove. We kid ourselves that the tourism detracts from its splendour really. It is spectacular on a world scale - and no matter how many times you visit - it still shoots the adrenalin when you near the edge like no place I know of in England.
The meltwater's flow was more concentrated in the centre, of course, so the cove has been cut back in a horseshoe shape which is not always easy to see when you are standing beneath it. Up here - well, it's something else.
The bedded Gordale limestone forms the overhang and the bit above it - while the sheer face is formed of (you've guessed it) Cove Limestone.
The cove has been cut back so much, in fact, that it is a good distance away now from the line of the Mid Craven Fault which created it!