Category Archives: Waterfalls

Seljalandsfoss

I know it’s been over a month since I came home from the the land of fire and ice, but here are a few more pictures from the wonderful land of Iceland.  In this case it of the waterfalls around the area of Seljalandsfoss.  This particularly wonderful foss is on the main round south-east before you get to Vik.  It drops about 60m from the volcanic cliffs above and has calved out a plunge pool and has a fantastic undercut rock shelter that allows visitors to walk behind the falls (though I would say to watch your step as the patch can be wet and slippery – and when the weather is as windy as it was on our trip the spray will soak you).

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DSCN2634DSCN2623DSCN2639About 500m along the cliffs to the northwest of Seljalandsfoss is the hidden waterfall Gljúfrafoss.  This is worth having a look at, though your feet will get wet as you have to walk along the stream to get into the cave.  With Gljúfrafoss you have a waterfall that has cut back into the cliffs and you have to do a bit of exploring to see this beautiful foss.

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Malham Cove

This week I have had the opportunity to visit the fantastic Yorkshire Dales in the north of England.  I got a chance to visit a few sites.  Much to our disappointment we weren’t able to get down Gaping Gill due to a technical fault with the winch, so we instead saw a few other places and I’d thought I’d share them with you.  The first is epic Malham Cove.

Location & Access:  Malham Cove is located in the south half of the Yorkshire Dales National Park at approximately 54*21’41” North, 2*09’28” West, about 1km from Malham village.  You can park a car in the village (itself a wonderful place to see) and walk up the road to the cove.  The road is good and there is a slight incline.  just above the village is a clearly marked, good quality path to the cove…and to be honest you really can’t miss it from there.  People with mobility issues shouldn’t have much trouble walking along the path, though the road can be a bit of a trek.  Warning!  The main path goes through a field of cows so beware of bovines.

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Geology:  The underlying rock is Carboniferous Limestone from the Garsdale and Danny Bridge Formations (331-339Ma), and represents a depositional environment of a shallow carbonate sea, full of corals and shell creatures.  That was then, what about now?  Like much of northern England the current landscape is largely the result of the various glaciations of the past, in particular the Devensian glaciation which ended about 10,000 years ago.  Malham Cove is thought to have been formed slightly earlier (about 12,000 years ago) as the ice retreated north.  The melting glaciers produced a large amount of run-off, and with the ground still being semi-frozen permafrost the water eroded the limestone instead of infiltrating into and dissolving it as happens now.

This led to the wonderful dry water seen today.  The semi-circular Malham Cove is about 80m high and about 300m across.  This makes it higher, but only about half as wide as the horse-shoe at Niagara Falls.  This gives you an idea of what the falls would have looked like in full flow 12,000 years ago.

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IMG_2331You can see the bedding planes in the limestone and if you look at the right of the image above you should be able to see two climbers ascending the cliff face (right of the centre tree, about half way up the picture in yellow).  This gives you an idea of the scale of the place.  At the base of the cliff is a small stream, exiting from one of the many underground river systems in the Dales.

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Although you should always be careful approaching a cliff face I would recommend getting as near to the base as possible and looking up…it’s fantastic.  I tried to take a few pictures, but none of them do it justice, so you’ll just have to go there yourself.  Stand in the centre of the horse-shoe, close to the base and look up, it’s this wonderful bowl shape.

Above the falls is another wonder of the Dales; the limestone pavement.

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These are a special feature, common to the Dales, but rare in the rest of the UK.  The flat surface is a bedding plane in the limestone, exposed by glacial & periglacial erosion.  This produces the flat ‘paving slabs’ called clints.  The gaps in between are the result of rain water getting into cracks in the limestone and dissolving some of it.  These gaps are called grykes.  Walking along a limestone pavement is quite an experience, but be warned some of the clints are wobbly and the grykes can be wide and deep.  Some of them may even be filled in with a thin layer of soil & grass so watch your step.

Other Stuff: You’ve got glacial valleys & erosion, caves, underwater rivers & springs, a dry waterfall higher than Niagara and limestone pavements…what more could you want? OK well aside from the geology it is also a great pace to catch a glimpse of one of my favourite birds; the Peregrine Falcon.  These nest up on the cliff face your chances of seeing one is good.

To sum up, if you are ever in the north of England Malham Cove is worth the visit.  The pictures I’ve posted really don’t do it justice, you’ll have to go see it for yourself.  Stay geogeeky as I’ve got more from the Dales that I’ll post soon.  Enjoy.

Reference: The Geology of Britain; An Introduction by Peter Toghill (2006), Geology (2nd Edition) by Stanley Chernicoff (1999).

 

 

Pistyll Rhaeadr – Fantastic Welsh Waterfall

With a rare day of sunny weather in Shropshire I took the opportunity to visit a place I’ve been to on a few occasions and I’ve thought I’d share a few images of today’s trip, plus those of the past.

Pistyll Rhaeadr (I confess to not knowing how to pronounce this properly as my Welsh is rather poor) is a wonderful, yet little known waterfall in north-east Wales, about 10 miles west of Oswestry.  Apparently it is the highest single dropping waterfall in Wales, and though it is no Niagara the area is a beautiful place to walk and you can get both underneath and to the top of the falls.

DSCF4344The main waterfall has two drops; the higher set dropping into a deep plunge pool, which sadly is accessible due to the sheer drop to get to it.  If you’re feeling brave you can take a path to the left of the falls.  TAKE EXTRA CARE WHEN WALKING AROUND THE FALLS, SOME OF THE PATHS ARE NARROW, THE ROCKS CAN BE WET AND THE DROP…WELL YOU’LL HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO THINK OF YOU’RE LIFE BEFORE HITTING THE BOTTOM, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.  Now that the boring warning is given…

Location & Access: The falls are easy to access, though you might take a bit of time finding them on a map.  They are located at around 52*51′ N, 3*22′ W.  The only way to reach them by road is to travel to the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant on the B4580 and then take the narrow road (with passing places) you to the falls.  The road ends at the falls so you can’t miss it.

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There is a cafe and a carpark (£2 charge for the day) at the base of the falls, though a few hundred metres down the road there are a few places that you can park for free.  There are also toilet facilities on site.  Access to the base of the falls is good; there is a wide path with a gentle incline that should be no problem for most visitors.  This leads to a bridge over the stream that gives you a good view of the falls.  If you want to get to the top of the falls there is a path to the right, over some stiles and a steep walk up to the top of the hill.  This may be difficult for people with restricted mobility.

River Features: Pistyll Rhaeadr has many of the classic features you’d expect at a waterfall and an upland stream.  There are a series of plunge pools at the base of the falls.  Just watch out as you walk over the wet rocks…I couldn’t sit down properly for 6 weeks after I fell over whilst crossing here once.  You can see potholes and the eroding river bed.

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At the top of the falls you get a great view of the valley, a remnant of the time when glaciers once carved out the landscapes.  The steep sided valley displays evidence of hanging valleys as well as the remains of glacial debris, though now heavily farmed over and not as evident as other parts of Wales.  The geology of the surrounding hills is that of the Llangynog Formation – a series of mudstones with a band of tuff approximately 457-459 million years old (Ordovician period).

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One of the more unique features is that above the half-way plunge pull is a section of fallen & eroded rock that forms a ‘bridge’ across the stream before the water falls over again.  Sadly you can’t reach it, just admire it from afar.

DSCF4345The whole site is a fantastic place to spend a few hours if you’re ever near Oswestry.  The hills are beautiful and the falls are some of the best in region.