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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    416 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    12.2 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Malham Tarn Walk

    Malham Tarn Walk

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    Table of contents

    The Malham Tarn Walk is a stunning adventure that showcases many gorgeous features of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Immerse yourself in nature and check out the cascading waterfalls, limestone ravines and natural coves that make up this area. This is a challenging path, so it is not for the faint of heart.

    Route Description for Malham Tarn Walk

    The Malham Tarn Walk is a challenging route and is not for the faint of heart. The path is made up of ascending and descending climbs, multiple gates, stiles, kissing gates, flights of stairs as well as ladder stiles and the most difficult terrain being the scramble up Gordale Scar. This route is for experienced walkers only and should not be attempted after periods of heavy rain as there can be slippery mud and the waterfall can become heavy flowing and dangerous.

    The walk has rough terrain, however, the scenery and experience is well worth the heart-pumping adventure. This path is full of many beautiful aspects of nature, granting the chance to explore and enjoy coves, waterfalls and ravines.

    Beginning at the car park, turn left towards Malham and walk towards the Buck Inn, where you will turn right and cross a footbridge. Turn right on the stone path and cross through a wooden gate on Pennine Way. Continue along and navigate a kissing gate and follow Janet’s Foss footpath. As you continue, you will come across three more kissing gates and then enter the woodland ravine, which will lead you to Janet Foss waterfall. Explore the waterfall and then continue along the path, where you will see a kissing gate and then a path to Gordale Scar.

    Prepare yourself to begin your scramble after following the path through a campsite and landing at the base of Gordale Scar. This is a sharp and challenging scramble, so watch your footing. There is a path there that is visible—follow it past two waterfalls and you will end up in a grassy path. Navigate the stile to continue on the path. Follow the road and get onto the stone track along the trees until you come to a sign for the National Trust Malham Tarn. Pass through the gate and follow the path, where you will be able to see the stunning views of Malham Tarn and the glacial lake.

    When you are finished, meet with the Pennine Way sign and cross the grass and moorland to a stile; navigate this and wander along the limestone scenery until you reach a junction, where you will turn right. You will then see Malham Cove, and when you cross this, you will have to keep your eyes open on the other side as the path disappears in the limestone for a moment. Follow the staircase down Malham Cove and take a moment to experience the beautiful views. At the bottom, you will see a gate. Go through and turn right to walk along the stream. Follow this until you arrive back at the car park in town where you began as this is a circular walk.

    Malham Tarn walk in 2024

    In 2024, Malham Tarn has seen significant developments, particularly in the realm of environmental conservation and outdoor activities. The National Trust has initiated an extensive restoration program focused on rewetting the bog at Malham Tarn to mitigate peat erosion and improve water quality. This project aims to preserve the diverse habitats around the tarn, which include rare raised bogs and fen landscapes.

    Additionally, fly fishing has resumed at Malham Tarn, offering visitors the opportunity to fish for wild brown trout. This activity, managed by the Friends of Malham Tarn, emphasizes environmental sustainability and respect for the site's unique ecology.

    Trail Highlights

    Janet’s Foss Waterfall

    The Janet’s Foss Waterfall is a beautiful cascading waterfall located within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Although small in stature compared to some of the other waterfalls, it is still a magnificent sight and has a very deep pool below. This pool was formerly used for sheep dipping, which was a social occasion that brought villagers together in earlier times.
    This waterfall also has a famous background as in 2006 the British film Waterfall was filmed here. In the fictional film, the waterfall was named Molkham Falls. Janet’s Foss Waterfall also has an interesting history: it is believed that a fairy queen inhabited the cave behind the waterfall. Many people swim in this deep pool today and swim in the waters in all seasons.

    Gordale Scar

    The Gordale Scar is a ravine located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is home to two beautiful waterfalls. The gorge is rumored to have been created by either a cavern collapse or water from melting glaciers.

    There is a small stream that runs through the Gordale Scar called the Gordale Beck, which flows out of the gorge and meets the waters that cascade over Janet’s Foss Waterfall. The water then meets Melham Beck and flows into River Aire.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is the Malham Tarn Walk family-friendly?

    The Malham Tarn Walk is not family-friendly as it winds through rough terrain not suitable for children

    Is the Malham Tarn Walk part of where Harry Potter was filmed?

    Yes, part of Harry Potter was filmed along the Malham Tarn Walk, at the Malham Cove. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed at this location.

    Is there backcountry camping available on the Malham Tarn Walk?

    No, backcountry camping is not available on the Malham Tarn Walk.

    Other Great Walks in Yorkshire Dales National Park

    Check out our trail guides to Pen-y-Ghent, Malham Cove, Kisdon Force, Grimwith Reservoir, and the Whernside Walk. Or see all of our Yorkshire Dales walks.

    Insider Hints for Malham Tarn Walk

    • Harry Potter was filmed at the Malham Cove
    • Ensure to wear appropriate footwear as this path provides rough terrain and scrambling will be necessary
    • Do not travel on this path after heavy rain as the terrain can be dangerous
    • Extend your stay and book a night at The Lister Arms Hotel
    • Grab a bite to eat at The Secret Garden Bistro

    Getting to the Malham Tarn Walk Trailhead

    To get to the Malham Tarn Walk from Malham, head north on Cove Road/Pennine Way toward Back Lane, and in 2.7 km, continue to follow Cove Road to arrive at your destination.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      April - September

    • Backcountry Campsites:


    • Pets allowed:


    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


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    Malham Tarn Walk Elevation Graph

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