This is a circular walk out of Malham, past the cove and up to the tarn. From here the route loops round, joining the Pennine Way down through Trougate, across the top of Maham Cove and back down into the village itself.
Starting at the village hall, the route leaves Malham via the Cove Road before striking out across classic limestone country to Malham Tarn. Skirting round the east side of the lake the path then circuits Great Close Hill towards Middlehouse Farm before heading back towards Malham Tarn. Joining with the Pennine Way the route arrives at the top of Malham Cove, traversing the large area of limestone pavement at the top, before a steep descent into the cove itself. From here it is a gentle stroll above Malham Beck back into the village and arriving back at the point of departure.
Malham Cove is a unique geomorphological feature in the British Isles, and today’s walk takes you past, over and down the side of it. Britain’s Ice Age Niagara is worth seeing alone. Other highlights are views of Malham Tarn and the extensive areas of limestone pavement, archetypal of the area. Bird lovers keep a look out for Peregrine Falcons which can be seen in the Cove.
The first section of the route is along Cove Road, so take care with traffic and farm vehicles, especially in summer when it can be busy. Some parts of the route are wet and muddy particularly on the higher sections. Care is needed when crossing the area limestone pavement above Malham Cove. Stay away from the edge as there is a long vertical drop. The joints in the rock (grykes) are pronounced and could cause injury if you slipped in. The descent at the side of the cove via the stone steps is steep and the rock is slippery in the wet.
Tips and hints
Malham is a small village and there are limited opportunities to stock up with supplies. There are two pubs, cafes and a Bistro and a couple of small shops selling snacks and souvenirs. There is also a Tourist Information Centre.There are no opportunities for refreshment on this circular route so carry what you require.
Points of Interest:
This is a natural rock amphitheatre of Carboniferous Limestone, with a vertical cliff face of some 260 feet. At the end of the Ice Age this was Britain’s Niagara Falls. Now the melt water is long gone but in wet weather a small stream sometimes cascades over the face into the cove below. A natural wonder of the Yorkshire Dales.
These are large exposed surfaces of Carboniferous Limestone, which when weathered by the elements resemble a cracked pavement. Chemical solution by rainwater enlarges the joints, known locally as grykes , leaving larger intervening blocks of rock called clints. This is a unique feature of limestone landscapes and a rarity in Britain.
Strip field system
In Medieval times under the open field system, each manor or village had several fields divided into narrow strips of land. The strips were cultivated by peasant families and examples of these vertical rows or strips and can be seen on the outskirts of Malham.
Sturdy boots or walking shoes are recommended as the terrain is rough and muddy in places. Walking poles may be an advantage on the descent by Malham Cove if preferred. The weather is changeable in the Dales so waterproofs should be carried especially as the moorland sections are fairly exposed.