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Janet’s Foss is a small waterfall where Gordale Beck falls over a limestone outcrop. Although not as magnificent as Gordale Scar which is just a bit further upstream, it is still an area of great interest.
Before formation, the Foss (from the Nordic word for waterfall, seen sometimes as ‘Force’) would have just run its course as a river usually would down through Malham.
However, over time, the softer rocks an the bed of the river get carried downstream and causes the river to become steeper (This transformation accelerates over time). After a very long time, the river wears down to the hard limestone rock which can now be seen behind the Foss.
The actual waterfall itself then gouges a pool out below it, which can be seen at the Foss, as it sweeps away softer materials at the base of the falls. In larger falls this can cause a very deep plunge pool, however this fall does not have enough energy to carve out a very deep pool.
What makes Janet’s Foss special is its speed of recession. All waterfalls continue to push back upstream as they wear away the rock over which they fall, but Janet’s Foss does this at a slower rate.
The humid conditions on the limestone face of the Foss give rise to mosses on the stone. Calcites from limestone erosion upstream fall on this moss after becoming mixed in the water flow and stick as deposits. This means in order for the Foss to recede up the stream, its trajectory as it falls must first alter (by way or erosion at the top of the fall) and thus a slower recession rate occurs.
Janet’s Foss gets its name from a fairy queen in folklore (by the name ‘Jennet’) who was said to reside in the caves behind the falls. If you look to the right of the falls, you can see the folds in the limestone rock, and the entrance to this cave (although it is too small to allow entry-Hillgorilla attempted this and succeeded! If you so wish, attempt to enter the cave, but remember, you do so at your own risk). In the past, this cave was used by this entrance of by means of another entry by Workers from the copper mines at Pikedaw.
The further community of Malham also had another use for these falls, where sheep would be dipped, supposedly giving them a better woollen coat, and the area was also used as a place of celebration by the same people in the past.
I hope you enjoy the lovely walk to this area, and Janet’s Foss itself. Additional Information can be found on the boards in the area about the Foss.
Good parking can be found at:
N 54 04.000’ W 002 08.121’ (North of the fall)
N 54 03.605’ W 002 09.267’ (Malham Visitor Centre – 1.25 mile walk – recommended)
To Log the cache, simply:
1) Take a photo of you and/or your GPSr at the site, with the falls in the background and attach to your log
2) Estimate or Measure by experiment (notes below) the height of the Foss (Email this to me)
3) Name at least 2 of the special plants that can be found in the area (Email me this)
To measure the height of the falls:
1) Climb to the top of the Foss via the footpaths in the area
2) Drop a stone from the Foss, and time its descent (in seconds)
3) apply the formula: [height = 4.9 x (time)^2]
4) This should give the height of the Foss in metres!
Please feel free to take lots of photos and share your experience, this is a beautiful area!
(No hints available.)