The Mystery of the Missing Waterfall by Steve Warren

Some years ago I decided to digitise all my colour slides, colour negs, and mono negatives.  Many of these were deteriorating and others were worthless being total unidentifiable. I also had been presented with a boxful of 2 ¼ inch glass plate images by way of an old friend, Brian Smith, cobbler of Silsden, son of Albert Smith. All needed digitising to make them accessible for general use. I had recently acquired an Epson Perfection 2990 scanner that I found to be the perfect tool for the job. At the end of the day (many days) I had several thousands of images, all carefully catalogued, and backed up for security. Amongst this collection there was a quite nice photograph of a waterfall in full spate.

Photo 1 Cote Gill waterfalls 1983

I had no idea where or when this was taken except that it had to be around the New Year period of 1983, the figure lurking in the undergrowth is quite definitely my son, Patrick. It had to be connected with our activities of that time and the image shows snow under the distant walls. I set out on a pilgrimage to locate this place, accompanied with with Dave Milner and Richard Gibson. We wandered far and wide: Force Gill, Crooka Gill, numerous gills up and down Wharfedale and Littondale, Hull Pot dry valley – a strong contender as Hull Pot had been in full flood after a massive snow and then a devastating flood over the New Year of 1983. The CPC Ivy Cottage was well and truly flooded: Photo 2.

Was this cascade further afield? Patrick and I had explored many gills, becks and gorges right across the Dales and the Northern Pennines around that period of the 1980s, beck-bottoming had become a true art-form by then. 

Try the Internet: that’s what it’s there for! “Yorkshire’s Waterfalls”, “Cascades in the Dales”, “Yorkshire’s Top Ten Waterfalls”, etc., etc. Nothing doing. Then, quite unexpectedly whilst looking for something completely different, mine workings of Littondale, there it was: our missing waterfall, arrayed amongst several others, and no great distance from home. 

I had been to this location more than once but normally the cascade is absolutely bone-dry and it looks quite different in flood. The photographer who had placed this on line, it seemed to me, had absolutely no idea that it was dry for 95 percent of the year. The location was Cote Gill at NGR933692, right next to Cote Gill Pot.

Next job: let’s have a proper look at this mystery fall. It is a long way from anywhere and a long walk in from whatever direction. However, on March 8, 2019, Richard Gibson and I chose to start what turned out to be an epic walk, from Street Gate, at the Malham Tarn end of Mastiles Lane, over Lee Gate High Mark and High Lineseed to NGR 933692. The weather was dreadful, but this was a requirement to ensure a goodly flow of water; and that is just what we found: a fabulous triple cascade: Photo 3. Thanks to Richard Gibson for support on this walk, it was all worthwhile as it took us into seldom visited terrain.

This still leaves the question: why was it, that whilst driving home to Skipton from Horton and over Malham Moor, on January 2, 1983 we decided to park up the Big Green Van, and set off on such a epic trek, in the middle of winter, to return with such a magnificent photograph. Second question, if you had not noticed: how is it that my original image was printed in reverse?

Pic by Steve Warren.