Our Guide to Malham
Malham and the surrounding areas offer some of the most picturesque walking scenery in Britain.
For those planning a visit this our guide to the local area with some top tips to make the most out of your visit.
The Penine Way runs right through Malham, making it a popular destination for more ‘serious’ walkers, however there are plenty of options for casual walkers and visitors.
Suitable footwear is required for exploring the area – paths can be uneven, and rocks can get slippery, it’s definitely not flip-flop friendly! Walking boots are your best bet, but a good pair of trainers should be fine if you’re sticking to the most common walking routes. Also consider a waterproof coat – British weather being unpredictable, it’s easy to get caught in a shower of rain mid-walk, and it can get cold in places where the wind funnels over the tops or through the valley near Goredale Scar.
It’s worth noting that Malham is not the most accessible area, with lots of routes involving stiles or ‘kissing gates’ which are not suitable for wheelchair users or pushchairs. For information about accessible routes check the Yorkshire Dales National Park ‘Miles without Stiles’ guide here: https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/plan-your-visit/essential-information/access-for-all/miles-without-stiles/
Please be sure to park responsibly, lots of our local roads are narrow and roadside parking causes serious problems for local farmers and emergency services. We have our own car park for overnight guests, as do other local accommodation. For day visitors there is the National Parks car park at the bottom of the hill into Malham or look out for fields open during the drier months.
There are no bins along the national park routes so please plan to take your litter home with you or use the bins in the village centre, opposite / just past The Buck Inn. If you fancy a picnic why not order yours from us – we have a range of options available, you can add a beer or prosecco to your picnic and we’ll even supply it in a handy cool bag backpack. Pop your rubbish in the bag and return it to us after your walk – no hassle or washing up for you and no rubbish in the national park – it’s a win-win!
Malham Cove & Limestone Pavement
One of the most famous sights in Malham is Malham Cove. Visible from the road as you drive into the village, the spectacular limestone crescent-shaped cliff has amazed visitors for centuries. Formed after the last ice age, the cliff soars an impressive 70m high and spans 300m.
A gentle stroll of about 30mins from the Buck Inn will bring you to the bottom of the Cove.
Top tip: Don’t miss exploring the area at the bottom of the cove – head through the gate in front of you before heading up the steps. From here you get to appreciate the scale of the cove, where ambitious climbers tackle its sheer rock face. It’s a beautifully serene area, make sure to look out for peregrine falcons flying above during the summer months– they nest in the cove, alongside house martins and jackdaws.
Head back and follow the path to the side of the cove to climb the winding stone steps to the top, where you’ll find the remarkable limestone pavement, famously featured in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, and spectacular views across the Yorkshire Dales landscape.
Regarded for centuries as one of the natural wonders of England, this dramatic limestone gorge features 100m high cliffs and two waterfalls. Depending on the season of your visit, the water flow varies between a gentle trickle and raging current.
There is a right of way up the waterfall and the adventurous can often be found climbing up the sketchy path, but it’s quite a scramble and not recommended unless you are fit and an experienced walker. If you don’t fancy the scramble, there are alternative walking routes towards Malham Cove or Malham Tarn, but it’s well worth visiting the base of the Scar for the impressive views and photo opportunities.
Foss is the Nordic word for ‘Falls’ and our magical local waterfall is a must-see spot. Originally used for sheep-dipping, those feeling brave (at least that’s what they call it) might opt for a dip in the blue pool – but be warned, it’s colder than you might expect!
According to legend, Janet the ‘Queen of the Fairies’, is rumoured to live in a cave behind the waterfall. Top Tip: Look out for the penny tree on the path between the Foss and Malham – it’s believed to be good luck to add a coin and make a wish to the queen of the fairies, there are hundreds of pennies pushed into the tree’s bark.
The woodland in the surrounding area adds to the enchanting atmosphere, home to birds, bluebells and wild garlic. Look out for the Bee Library – a series of little houses, made from bee themed books, hanging from trees to act as nests for solitary bees.
The path from Janet’s Foss back to the village follows the route of the beck, passing through fields, stiles and kissing gates and finishing with a small clapper bridge that brings you out almost opposite The Buck Inn.
Circular walk – You can visit Malham Cove, Goredale Scar and Janet’s Foss in one go by following the ‘Malham Landscape Spectacular’ walk which totals 7.125km / 4.5 miles and takes around 2.5-3 hours to complete (including time to stop for photos and enjoying the views) – pick up a map and guide to the walk at The Buck Inn reception.
A glacial lake, the highest in England at 377m (1,237 ft) above sea level, Malham Tarn was the inspiration for the Children’s classic ‘The Water-Babies’. With open water being rare in this area, the lake became a magnet for animals during the Stone Age, which also drew hunters to the area. Archaeologists have recovered remains of stone tools and campsites from the shoreline of the lake.
A National Nature Reserve, managed by the National Trust, the Tarn is home to plenty of wildlife including some rare species. Explore it with a lovely walk around the tarn, including a boardwalk to get you up close. Look out for globeflower, marsh valerian, water voles, deer and if you’re really lucky, otters.
You can walk up to the tarn from The Buck Inn – There is also a longer 7.5mile route that takes in Janet’s Foss, Goredale Scar, Malham Tarn and Malham Cove, if you fancy a longer day of walking. Alternatively, take a short drive up to the Tarn, use its dedicated car park and set off for a pleasant walk around it. It also makes a great spot for a picnic.