Photographing Limestone Pavement in Malhamdale

Workshop Report: Malham March 2015

Photographing in the Woodland at Janets Foss
Photographing in the Woodland at Janet’s Foss


As we drove over Blubberhouses Moor in torrential rain toward Malham for our first workshop there this year, we were thinking more of the warm welcome at the Lister Arms than being out in the elements, but were also hoping that the weather forecast would be correct and the rain would move away to the East in the afternoon.  We warmed up in the snug at the pub and had a chat about the day ahead and a look at some images  over a cup of coffee.  By the time we set off on our walk the rain had eased off and so when we arrived at Janet’s Foss the diffused light was just perfect for photographing woodland and water.  The falls had just the right amount of peaty water and the mosses on the rocks and the fresh wild garlic leaves sprouting along the path provided a lush green backdrop for our images.

Lost in the Landscape at Gordale Scar
Lost in the Landscape at Gordale Scar


We lingered here in the shelter of the woods a little longer than usual but eventually tore ourselves away and crossed the lane to the rather more forbidding Gordale Scar.  The wind had picked up a bit and was whipping round the top of the scar near the waterfalls but the falls themselves looked lovely and everyone got some great shots picking out sections of the various cascades with longer lenses.  A few rain showers passed over so we sought shelter under the rocks for our lunch stop before heading back down the valley and stopping to photograph some more water details in the swollen beck along the way.

Photographing on the Limestone Pavement at the Lone Tree
Photographing on the Limestone Pavement at the Lone Tree


From the valley bottom we braved the climb up to the viewpoint above Gordale Scar, stopping a little way before the top to photograph Malhamdale from the shelter of the hillside before continuing to the top and then on toward the lone tree and took up positions on the limestone pavement.

Lone Photographer at the Lone Tree
Lone Photographer at the Lone Tree


We hadn’t expected much at the tree given the weather conditions – we’d rather assumed we’d get blown away by the wind, but instead we were blown away by the photography!  The spot we picked wasn’t in the full force of the wind and it was possible to set tripods up nice and low to get the best stability, but the wind was moving the clouds rapidly  so we had an ever changing backdrop to the tree from dark moody skies to patches of blue sky and white clouds  so a great variety of images was possible, including brooding black and white conversions and tree silhouettes against dramatic cloudscapes.

Photographing above Malham Cove
Photographing above Malham Cove


After spending a good while at the tree we headed down the lane and across the fields to the top of Malham Cove for our penultimate stop of the day.  Clambering up onto the grassy area above the limestone again proved the best option here, with an elevated view over the clints and grykes of the huge expense of limestone pavement leading off to the sheer cliff of the cove and Malhamdale beyond.  One of the advantages of this time of year should be that the setting sun illuminates the cove at the end of the workshop, but the cloud wasn’t going to let that happen on this occasion.  However, there was plenty of scope for shooting interesting details of the amazing limestone patterns before heading down the steps to the bottom of the valley for a final shoot of the cove from below and more abstract moving water details in Malham Beck.  That rounded off a great day’s photography nicely and just left the short walk back to the village and the comfort of the Lister Arms for a drink and a chat about the day.  We were, once again, very pleased to see so many great images at the post-processing session in Harrogate the day after the workshop, proving that as long as you match the light to the right subject there’s always something to photograph!

If you’d like to join us for a workshop at Malham take a look at our Malham and Gordale Photography Workshop page.

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