Malham Cove and Gordale Scar

Malham North Yorkshire

In a region of dramatic superlatives, Malham Cove takes some beating. In a way, if you've never been before, it's a shame to give the game away in advance. Better to let you stroll the mile out from the village and across lush green fields, alongside a babbling stream, until – there it is, a stupendous, curved limestone cliff, almost 300 feet high, formed by a melting glacier which created a vast natural amphitheatre. Peregrine falcons soar above (there's a staffed RSPB viewpoint open most days between April and the end of July), while in any decent weather daredevil climbers inch their way up the impossibly sheer cliff walls – just watching them makes your heart stop. Steep rock-cut steps lead to the top of the cove where a fractured limestone pavement offers the chance for some gleeful rock-hopping and simply amazing views (it's an other-wordly landscape of crazy-paving fissures that turned up to great effect in the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). For a full day out you can continue from the top of the cove to Malham Tarn and then on to Gordale Scar – a full-on Yorkshire canyon, with more rock-scrambling – before circling back to Malham via the woodland pool of Janet's Foss. The whole walk is around eight miles and takes around four hours, and you can get details and a map from the national park visitor centre in Malham.

Best Places to stay near Malham Cove and Gordale Scar