Where is this walk?

Gordale Scar and Malham Tarn

March 28, 2019

The classic walk in Malham visits Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Tarn. The walk finishes by climbing down the stone steps alongside Malham Cove, surely the best recognized site in The Yorkshire Dales.

The Walk

Walking amongst the limestone scenery of the southern Dales is a real pleasure. In addition this walk crosses the Craven fault line so the drama of the landscape is enhanced. Gordale Scar, Janet’s Foss and Malham Cove are spectacular examples of what has happened on the fault line. Moreover the limestone¬†pavementof Malham Cove are near perfect examples of Clints (the blocks) and Grykes (the gaps). They are formed by acidic water forming in the hollows of the rock and eroding it away over 1,000s of years.

Janet’s Foss is a pleasant start to the walk. However it is the amphitheatre¬†of Gordale Scar which will soon dominate your memories. Many years ago it was an enormous cave but collapsed over time. Now it is world famous as a nesting area for the peregrine falcon. However it also provides a difficult scramble for the unwary walker who may have to retrace their steps for an alternative route to Malham Tarn.. However if you can scramble up the rock face the valley beyond is beautiful. On arrival at Malham Tarn you will be at the highest freshwater lake in the country and a well protected nature reserve.

The grand building at the head of the tarn is now the Field Studies Centre offering courses to all ages on all that is good and worth preserving within this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). On the return to Malham the best route is to take the track to the west of the Malham Lings and drop down into Malham Cove although a visit to the iron age settlements under Sheriff Hill is also worth a visit.


Picking a quieter time for the walk when the falcons are more likely to be seen (May for the young but June can be good).

This walk at Malham is one of my 20 favourite walks in the Yorkshire Dales.

Navigation Tips Gordale Scar and Malham Tarn

On the map is shown a public footpath leading up Gordale Scar to Malham Tarn. This requires a certain scrambling skills. Do not assume it is possible. In fact it is difficult. Certainly never use this path if you are descending from Malham Tarn.

  • Siegfried Haas says:

    “and a difficult scramble for the walker”
    We did the walk in October, so this might be the reason for the main problem – all the water. There simply wasn’t any dry route to take. And without safety ropes it definitely is not advisable.
    On the other hand – the route nearby branching off the path to Malham cove (the on that paases the iron age settlement) is steep but even with children walkable and does give stunning views of the surroundings and of Gordale Scar.

  • Celia says:

    This was a perfect walk – on a stunning day. Thank you so much for the GPX – we used it on our ViewRanger app and it made sure we knew where we were going. Never had such stunning sights and topography in such a straight-forward walk. One to treasure.

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