Guide to the Malham area

The Malham area is famous for its classic limestone scenery of cliffs, crags, and scars. The farming landscape of miles of ancient dry-stone walls, field barns, meadows and pockets of woodland complete the picture.

Dramatic limestone scenery

Much of the dramatic scenery in the area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, under statutory protection. The National Trust also owns a large area of land, including lime-rich Malham Tarn, which is managed as a National Nature Reserve for wildlife. The Tarn lies on a bedrock of slates in a depression scoured out by glacier ice in the Ice Age, and is the highest lime-rich lake in the country - fed by springs bringing in dissolved limestone from the surrounding hills.

Malham Cove

Above Malham village, Malham Cove is a great limestone ampitheatre formed through ice and water erosion during the last million years. It is now a habitat for peregrine falcons.

Pennine Way

A section of the Pennine Way leads from Malham Village to the Cove, ascending the western grassy side of the 250-feet high cliff. At the top there is a remarkable limestone pavement with its clints (small flat blocks) and grikes (deep crevices between), and a sensational view over the valley. Beyond, the Dry Valley leads northwards towards the Water Sinks and Malham Tarn.

Flowing from the base of Malham Cove, the Malham Beck is crossed by clapper bridges and a former packhorse bridge in the centre of Malham. The village contains typical Dales stone houses, many dating back to the 18th-century.

Gordale Scar

East of Malham is Gordale Scar, a gigantic collapsed cave system forming a twisting gorge between limestone cliffs, often with a waterfall splashing onto the path up the gorge. A smaller waterfall is Janet’s Foss, set amongst natural woodland.

The road from Malham upwards to the Tarn leads northward to Arncliffe in Littondale or westwards to Ribblesdale

Malham Cove View over Malham Cove Goredale Scar
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