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This round trip Malham Cove walk is our favorite in the Yorkshire Dales. It surpasses the beautiful Janet Foss Falls, the Gordale Scar canyon, the Malham Tarn away from the stone pavement Malham Cove itself.

Malham Cove has been described as one of the wonders of geography in the UK.

The curved slab is about 1,000 feet [300 m] high and descends some 300 feet [80 m] straight into the valley below. Formed at the end of the last ice age, it is a beautiful and fascinating view. You can walk to Malham Cove from the car park in 20 minutes, but there is so much to explore in this remarkable area.

Janet’s Foss is a beautiful waterfall on the head of a spear with magical trees. The Gordale Scar is a beautiful gorge hidden beneath the rocky cliffs. Malham Tarn is an alkaline lake in the north, home to a unique wildlife. All of these impressive features can be visited on this fascinating tour of Malham Cove.

Travel is circular and takes 3 to 4 hours to complete. There is a deceptive friction of the falls, but this can easily be avoided by turning around. Like sensible long walks and unusually short climbs, a good level of stamina is required.

This guide includes instructions, maps and much more for our hiking trails, some great places for hiking trails. If you only walk one in the Yorkshire Dales, here it is.

To find out more about the area, read our guide on the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales.

VIEWING YOUR TRAVEL / If you find this guide helpful, please book your trip with the links on this page (or on our BOOKS page). This will earn us a small commission – at no extra cost to you – and help us keep track of where we are on the road. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.


This beautiful circular walk in the Yorkshire Dales visits Janet Foss, Gordale Scar, Malham Tarn and Malham Falls, with 370 meters of ups and downs. There are a few short climbs, as well as a selection of options to upgrade the Gordale Scar. If you choose to avoid the rash, there is nothing technically difficult, and the walk can be completed by anyone with a healthy standard.

If you take the Gordale Scar rub, the walk is a little over 12 miles and takes about three hours and 15 minutes. If you take a detour, it is more than 14 miles and takes about 4 hours. Whichever route you choose, we suggest you add an extra hour to photograph the most beautiful scenery, enjoy a picnic in the beautiful scenery and enjoy the amazing wonders of this trail.


The march starts in the village of Malham; a beautiful collection of houses in a small stream set in the middle of the beautiful, rugged Yorkshire Dales. There is a large National Park Car Park (Postal Code: BD23 4DA) but most tourists park on the side of the road from Kirkby Malham. On sunny summer days, parking can be tricky, so try to arrive early (or late) to catch up.

Below are navigation instructions, but you can also find the entire route on the map at the end of the post. Download it to your phone and track your process as you do around.


From National Park Car Park into Malham, and as you pass the Buck Inn, turn right, cross the pedestrian bridge over Malham Beck, turn right and follow the Pennine Way through the wooden gate that holds the river to your right. After passing through two gates of kissing, turn left at the sign pointing to Janet Foss (marked 1 on the map).

Sit on this path (a stone wall to your right, a fence to your left) and enter the kissing gate into the woods held by the National Trust. The trail now winds its way through an amazing little grove of trees. In the spring, bluebells rise above the green carpet and the aroma of wild garlic is blown by the breeze under the leafy bed.

He climbs well, the path reaches Janet’s Foss, a small but beautiful waterfall that falls over a mossed wall of a beautiful lake. It’s a great place and on a hot day, a great place to dive fast.


Continue past the waterfall, turn right onto the road until you reach the designated area. Gordale Refreshments – an excellent food van driven by a local farmer – is often packed here and makes excellent egg rolls and bacon butties. Pass the bridge (2 on the map) and just a few meters away from the road, turn left with a wide stone track sign sent to Gordale Scar.

The track slides into a deep ravine that rises slowly down the road like rocky cliffs and rocky ridges high above you. Before long, the trail appears to be blocked by a large boulder with a small waterfall over it.

Decision time. For the chase with a firm conviction and a sense of fun, you can slide over a rock on the left side of the waterfall. It’s not easy, but you can spend a little time watching other people do it to see how it treats you. If you decide to go it alone, you should take a two-mile walk.



If you decide to collapse, the road continues to climb once you reach the top. When it is steep and rocky, it gradually becomes easier. After passing another waterfall, the path climbs the stone stairs to your left and then up the valley.

The cliffs allow for grassy mountains and reach the top of the valley, the path crossing a stone wall with a sign pointing to Malham Tarn. Follow the grassy path through the fields to the Road Gate (3 on the map).


If you decide to avoid a riot, head back to the stone bridge (2 on the map), cross over and continue toward the wall following the sign to Malham Cove (the purple trail on the map). The path (Hawthorns Lane), heads along the field (right wall), passes through a wall, then crosses the field, until it meets the hills. Follow the trail that kisses the base of the hill (the wall now on the left) that bends until it meets the road (Malham Rakes).

Turn right at the road (almost back to you) and climb the mountain you have been walking. Continue the long distance until the road veers leave as the wide gravel path continues straight. Take the 300-foot-long [3 m] stone trail to the intersection of Street Gate (3 on the map).

From the street gate

At Street Gate, go straight to the stone track and wall to the right. The trail turns off the wall and just before crossing the cattle grid at the Great Close Plantation, turn left and follow a steep path, keeping the wall and your field on the right.

At the junction of the Pennine Way, go straight and turn left, reaching the southern edge of the Malham Tarn (5 on the map).

Malham Tarn is one of only two natural lakes in the Dales and one of the eight alkaline lakes in Europe. Its low pH enriches aquatic plants and attracts crayfish, otters, and many breeding birds. Sitting on the beach makes for a great picnic spot. It may be tempting to go swimming but please don’t do it as you can bring foreign germs into this special nature reserve.


From the southern edge of Malham Tarn, head south to the Water Sinks car park. Just after parking the cars, turn right onto the road, enter the gate past Malham Beck. Pass the beck, turn left at the pointing area pointing to Malham Cove (1.5 miles). After 100 meters when the road divides in half, take the left fork sign line to Cove.

Continue on the path in a regular way down. Malham Cove walk is well signed and there is nowhere else to go. The path descends slowly at first, but after a large zig zag (6 on the map), it passes over a ladder, then descends and descends quickly to the part of Ing Scar, a dry, rocky valley. The road is smooth again and after passing over two stacks it reaches the top of Malham Cove.

The paved road at the top of Malham Cove is amazing. Deep breaks sink into the flat limestone stone roof, forming large natural blocks. The edge of the paved road abruptly ends and is almost straight down into the valley, 80 meters below. The view from here on a beautiful day is natural with field trunks rising and falling on waterless hills.


From the top of Malham Cove, turn right and cross a paved road. When you finally reach the wall (7 on the map), turn left, enter through the refreshing gate, and go down the man-made stairs. Reaching the wood, the path bends to the left and then to the right before splitting. Bear left to look at the face of the Malham Cove walk falls. Take the right to follow the well-signed route back to Malham.

Back in Malham there are plenty of places to relax after leaving. Beck Hall has a garden running along the creek, ready for lunch in the sun. Lister Arms has a home-made Freedom IPA which we highly recommend. Set up on tables on the green edge of the village, is the perfect way to end this Malham Cove Walk.

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