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Janet's Foss, Malham

OS grid reference:- SD 911 633

Janet's Foss waterfall, close to Gordale Scar, is situated near to the Dales village of Malham and on the edge of the National Trust's Malham Tarn Estate.

The waterfall on Gordale Beck falls over a limestone outcrop into a deep pool below. Tufa deposits form on the rocks behind the waterfall, Tufa is formed by calcium carbonate rich water precipitation. Limestone Pavements are a feature of the surrounding areas with the Clints (the blocks of limestone) and Grykes (the gaps) creating a unique wildlife habitat or micro-climate for rare wild flowers and ferns such as wood sorrel, Herb Robert, Green Spleenwort and Wall Rue.

The name Janet, which sometimes occurs as Jennet, is thought to derive from a folk tale reference to a fictional fairy queen who inhabited a cave at the back of the falls. Foss is an Old Norse term for waterfall, which is still used in Scandinavia, and is presented in a number of cases in northern England as 'force'.

The pool was traditionally used for sheep dipping by local farmers, an event which drew the village inhabitants for the social occasion.

Opposite the falls is a small cave thought to have been inhabited by copper miners working at the nearby Pikedaw mines. The cave was formed by limestone bedrock being dissolved and eroded by the action of water and then re-deposited on mosses growing at the lip of the fall. This has caused the remarkable but fragile tufa screen, which reaches to the plunge pool below. The waterfall was the location of the fictional Molkham Falls as featured in the 2006 independent British film, 'Waterfall'. Filming took place there in May 2006.


The footpath to Janet's Foss commences from the Smithy at Malham village, cross over over the small clapper bridge at the back of the Smithy, then turn right along the side of the beck, entering and passing through a wood. The footpath then continues alongside Malham Beck. Parking is available in the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Car Park in Malham village.

Janet's FossJanet's Foss

Images courtesy of Paul Johnson

Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales

Aysgarth Falls Catrake Force Catrigg Force Cauldron Falls
Clapham Falls Cote Gill
Cotter Force Gaping Gill
Gordale Scar Hardraw Force Ingleton Waterfalls Janet's Foss
Kisdon Force Linton Falls Scalaber Force Stainforth Force
Swinner Gill Wain Wath Force

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