Janet’s Foss, Malham, England

Janet’s Foss (Malham, England)

Janet’s Foss is a magical and enchanting waterfall outside of the village of Malham England where the local Faerie queen, Janet (or Jennet) lives in a cave behind the falls. “Foss” comes from the old Norse word for “waterfall” or “force”. It’s difficult at first to spot the cave behind the falls because another large cave to the right of the pool distracts visitors first. The fall is moss-covered tufa screen on calceous Gordale Beck that extends from the lip of the fall down to the level of the pool below produces a vivid display of shades of green and the calcite that comes up over the moss. The false-cave, open in site to the right of the pool across the stream has been called “Janet’s Cave” even though it’s not the true cave. According to records, this cave was inhabited by smelters working copper mines at Pikedaw in the west. Herders would also use the pool beneath the falls to wash sheep before shearing in late June. The gully/valley the cave and falls resides in is covered wall to wall with wild garlic, believed to ward off evil or harm to those in the gully.
“Location: Janets Foss gr 912633 OS Map: 98, The footpath from Malham starts from Malham Smithy, over the small clapper bridge behind the Smithy with Miresfield Farm B&B in front of you then turn right along the side of the beck, through a few fields and kissing gates and into the wood. The footpath follows Malham Beck and during summer you can smell the wild garlic in the wood, you may even pass a money tree!. Stop and admire the Foss, paddle or even swim or at least let the dog have a splash. The footpath then continues past the Foss onto the road and right towards the Tea Van and then through the campsite on to Gordale Scar.” (Directions from http://www.malhamdale.com/janetsfoss.htm).  

Janet’s Foss

from above
Approaching Janet’s Foss …

Movies Made in the area: A Boy and Girl and A Bike (1949)(featuring Diana Dors); Bette Davis melodrama Another Man’s Poison (1952); Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal (1982); Charles Kingsley’s “The Water Babies” in ( book: 1863, film: 1979). Janet’s Foss was the location of the fictional Molkham Falls as featured in the 2006 independent British film, WATERFALL. Filming took place there in May 2006.

Click here to download or hear Josie Whitehead’s Poem about the Fairies of Janet’s Foss (home page here: http://www.whiteheadm.co.uk/html/janets_foss.html)

I’ll take you to a fairy glade
Within a wooded place
Here, where a waterfall cascades
You may see a fairy face.

They dwell within an enchanted glen
Surrounded by green trees,
With mossy rocks and water clear
And the lightest, sweetest breeze.

Please promise that you’ll make no sound –
Step carefully as you go.
There’s limestone rocks and tiny caves
Where the limpid water flows.

Wild garlic grows within these woods –
Listen! Fairy voices call.
The Queen of Fairies, Janet, lives
In the cave behind the fall.

Sunshine strikes through leafy trees
See, there on mossy rocks
The tiny creatures play and bathe
In peace at Janet’s Foss.

Poetry of the Fairies of Janet’s Foss and Here.
The Ballad of Tam Lin. (Frankenstein version)
Movies about Janet’s Foss and Malham
The Cottingley Fairies

The foss

the false cave


Janet’s Foss (can you see the Faerie cave?

The real faerie cave behind the waterfall …

“ON THE EDGE of the National Trust’s Malham Tarn Estate, Janet’s Foss is a unique site of particular conservation importance. Foss is an old Scandinavian word for waterfall or force. According to legend, Janet (or Jennet) Queen of the local Faeries, lives in a cave behind the waterfall. 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. This intimate site has probably been wooded since the end of the last Ice Age and today the woodland is managed to enhance its wildlife value. The shady dell provides a rich habitat for wildlife and the humid atmosphere favours ferns and mosses. In spring, dog’s mercury and pungent ramsons (wild garlic) grow in profusion, along with the lily of the valley and Herb Paris. The hooded flowers of lords-and-ladies appear in April and May and later develop into conspicious spike of scarlet berries. Dippers, pied grey, and yellow wagtails may be seen on the stream, while a good range of woodland birds are present.

click to read the sign

The false Faerie queen cave

Enter the gate …

The wild garlic path …

entering the enchanted gully …

The sign
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