If you are, or know, someone who loves wild swimming in northern England, then you, or someone you know, will probably have spoken in reverent tones about Janet’s Foss. The gin-clear turquoise waters of this beloved Skipton waterfall have a magical aura and despite its popularity, it still feels very personal. You ought to come in from Malham through Wedber Wood if you can – it’s a nice easy stroll and you’ll feel that you’ve earned your dip. What with all I’d heard of the Foss, it felt like a pagan ritual padding slowly through the gnarled woodland towards the storied falls.
After steeping yourself in the hallowed waters there’s plenty more to enjoy about this enchanted place (try and spot the tree-trunk studded with coins – your guess is as good as mine). The waterfall spills out of Gordale Scar, meaning you get two stunning geographic curios for the price of one. The striking limestone ravine was itself the muse of both Wordsworth and JMW Turner, two people who seem to be cropping up rather a lot around decent wild swimming spots.
If you go at the right time of year then the distinctive tang of wild garlic definitely adds something to the atmosphere. And that atmosphere is one of the big draws of this place. Janet’s Foss is tied to many myths and legends, the name itself is said to come from the fairy queen that is said to dwell in the cave behind the falls. Though others have reported more malevolent spirits in the green misty spray so choose what you want to believe wisely. If you’d rather recall something more jolly, then you can imagine the crowds of people gathered to enjoy the sheep dipping that once was often a well-enjoyed social