Goredale Scar: A Yorkshire dales natural wonder

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AS natural wonders go this is one of Yorkshire’s finest.

The sight of water cascading down the limestone gorge is one that has changed little in centuries. The ravine in question is of course Gordale Scar, a mile or so away from Malham, in North Yorkshire,

Gordale Scar is at the northern end of Craven Fault, a 22 mile geological fault line which runs from the borders of Cumbria into the Yorkshire Dales.

The gorge itself is one of the oldest, and most impressive, sights in the country.

It was created during the Ice age, melt water creating a deep cavern that eventually collapsed to create the waterfall and gorge that we see today. It contains two waterfalls and has overhanging limestone cliffs that are over 100 metres high.

The stream flowing through the scar is called Gordale Beck, which after travelling through the gorge flows over Janet’s Foss before joining Malham Beck a couple of miles downstream to form the River Aire.

Visitors to flock to Gordale Scar each year as well as to nearby Malham Cove, keen to feast their eyes on this monument of nature.

They join a long list of people who have been wowed by this place over the centuries.

It has long been the source of inspiration for artists and poets. JMW Turner, perhaps the greatest English artist who ever lived, painted Gordale Scar in 1816.

The Romantics, in particular, were awestruck by this place. The poet Thomas Gray said he could only bear to stay here for a quarter of an hour, but “not without shuddering.”

William Wordsworth was no less enamoured with the place, writing in his sonnet Gordale, “let thy feet repair to Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair where the young lions couch”.

More recently, Yorkshire artist Ashley Jackson has returned here many times to capture its raw power on canvas, while it also featured in a BBC TV series about the natural history of the British Isles - introducing this wondrous totem of nature to a new generation.