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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Emily Porter: Exploring the Yorkshire Dales

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    24 Nov
    Ice and rain have created large channels in the limestone at Malham. Grass has grown in between the crevices.

    This summer, with the help of Gateway funding, I spent a week in the Yorkshire Dales with some friends from university, hiking and exploring the natural landscape there. We stayed in Ingleton, a village near one of Yorkshire’s ‘Three Peaks’, Ingleborough.

    Many of our hikes could begin from our doorstep, and on the first day we set out on a trail in the surrounding area which passes near some beautiful waterfalls. The following day we hiked to Yordas cave, a solutional (karst) cave formed around 350 million years ago from the soluble limestone rock, at the top of Kingsdale Valley. The entrance and main chamber of Yordas cave is accessible by foot and we were able to go inside and explore this section, which is an impressive 15 metres high and 50 metres wide, with a stream running through it. Finding this beautiful cave was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. 

    Another karst landscape feature, formed from the erosion of soluble limestone rock, is Malham cove and pavement, which we visited later in the week. This was a little drive away from Ingleton, and one of our gentler and shorter hikes, but did include a lot of steps up to the pavement(!), which is found at the top of the cove’s cliff face. The cove is the result of a historical waterfall of glacial meltwater. From the top, there is a great view of Malham and other surrounding villages. The limestone pavement has been shaped by ice and rainwater, creating grykes in the bare limestone.

    Our main challenge of the week was our hike up Ingleborough, which is the ‘medium’ peak of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The mountain is 723m high, and once again we set off from our doorstep! It was quite a warm day so the hike up was difficult, but definitely worth it for the amazing view from the top (we also had plenty of Kendal mint cake to keep us going!). On the top we found a sheep shelter (and some very hardy sheep!) and could see all the way to the sea at Morecombe Bay. The top of Ingleborough is also interesting archeologically as it was once the site of an Iron Age hillfort. Towards the end of the week we hiked by the river Ribble to Horton in Ribblesdale, where we found a lovely tearoom to have lunch, and had a great view of Pen Y Ghent, another of the Yorkshire three peaks.

    Overall, this trip was an amazing opportunity to experience some of the wonderful natural landscapes which are not so far from home. The Yorkshire Dales was entirely new to me, and I will definitely be back for more (!). I am really grateful to Gateway for making this trip possible. Gateway helped to prepare me for this trip in so many ways, and I definitely learnt a lot about planning ahead, route finding, and working with others, meaning we could go to some amazing places!

    Emily Porter
    Undergraduate Student, Music