Airton & Kirkby Malham

  • Lovely section of the Pennine Way
  • 2 unspoilt Dales villages
  • Avoid the crowds at Malham

If 1% of the traffic that headed for Malham even paused to appreciate the twin villages of Kirkby Malham and Airton I would be surprised. They are missing 2 little gems, connected by a small section of the Pennine Way, which runs alongside the River Aire . The fields to the west with their long distant views of Malham Cove and the lands towards Gargrave mark an alternative return.

However I found the enjoyment of the walk in the two villages of Airton and Kirkby Malham. Poke around all the nooks and crannies of both villages but particularly explore the church and grounds of St Michael the Archangel in Kirkby Malham. The walk passes by the private but very impressive Hanlith Hall, set in extensive grounds and apparently first built in 1668 by Robert Serjeantson although it has been renovated many times since. The old mill down by the river at Airton has been developed into private apartments but is also an impressive site. Originally a corn mill it later became a cotton mill in the early 19th century but financial problems soon caused its demise and dereliction. Away from the twin villages the walk is very pleasant and left me with a feeling of wanting a bit more – the Pennine Way is not all bleak moorland and bogs!

Recommend: Despite starting in a sprightly manner the ageing Bracken (my border collie before Mist) could not make the return and I had to carry her some of the way. I always look up a little sadly to the fields over Kirkby Malham….

Download GPX file

Airton Kirkby Malham map


All maps are copyright of Where2Walk © 2020

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL2 Yorkshire Dales South & West Buy Map
Start Point: SD 902591. I prefer starting at Airton and walking 'up' the River Aire but for those who want to finish at a pub Kirkby Malham is the obvious starting point.
Height to Climb: 95 ms(312 feet)
Terrain: Good throughout if a little difficult to follow on the fields to the west. Can be very wet though.
Eating & Drinking: Despite its exterior I find the Victoria Inn in Kirkby Malham a really top notch pub, particularly on a cold winter day. In Airton the Town Town End Farm Shop doubles as a tea shop and is excellent.
Similar Walks Nearby: A short walk to Malham Cove
The Lanes of Long Preston
Sharp How & Flasby near Skipton
Places to Stay:


Prior Hall Stables, MalhamBull Barn, nr Malham