Gordale Scar & Malham Tarn

  • A geological masterpiece
  • Includes Gordale Scar, Janet’s Foss & Malham Tarn
  • Good all year round

Walking amongst the limestone scenery of the southern Dales is a real pleasure. As this walk crosses the Craven fault line 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 whilst the limestone  pavements above are near perfect examples of Clints (the blocks) and Grykes (the gaps) formed via the weathering processes through the millenia.

Janet’s Foss is really just a tame start as the amphitheatre  of Gordale Scar soon dominates the scenery. Once a cave that fell in on itself the scar has become world famous as a nesting area for the peregrine falcon and a difficult scramble for the walker (may be too much for many). Emerging from the scar is being instantly transformed in to a different world; rough loose rock opens to a wide grassy path making a bee line for Malham Tarn. Malham Tarn is 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.

Recommend: Picking a quieter time for the walk when the falcons are more likely to be seen (not easy).

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Malham & Gordale Scar 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 901628. The car park at the visitor centre although this fills up in the summer and parking is allowed on the road side towards Kirkby Malham.
Height to Climb: 200 ms (656 feet)
Terrain: Rough and smooth! I was genuinely surprised at the trickiness of Gordale Scar and hands are needed but away from the scar it is all easy on good tracks and bridleways.
Eating & Drinking: There is a good choice of pubs and tea shops in Malham. There may be a van at the parking spot south of Malham Tarn.
Similar Walks Nearby: Airton & Kirkby Malham
The Settle Loop
A Circuit of Malham Tarn
Places to Stay:


Bull Barn, nr MalhamPrior Hall Stables, Malham


Coniston Hotel, nr Skipton