Malham Cove

  • A grand amphitheatre of rock 250′ high
  • Malham Cove can be very popular
  • Best example of limestone ‘clints’ and ‘grykes’

There is one problem with a walk in Malham Cove; is it is too popular. The day trippers flock to Malham and walk the 1 mile from the village centre to stand under the 250′ rock face, take a photo and retire to one of the tea shops or pubs in the village. The walk to Malham Cove is the most popular mile of track in the Dales but sadly only a small proportion of visitors climb the steps (how many!) to the west of the cove.

The limestone pavement on the summit of the Cove is one of the very best examples of clints (blocks) and grykes (gaps) in the Dales. Even though the wear from the thousands of boots that walk along it every year is noticeable, the pavement still clearly shows how weathering and in particular ice has created fractures in the originally solid rock and gradually worn through these areas of weakness till the pavements of today are formed.

There is no real access back down to the Cove on the eastern side but if you carry on to the footpath above Sheriff Hill this does offer an interesting alternative back to Malham. Here are the remains of ancient iron age settlements rather than the less endearing high heels, handbags and bored youths which tend to clutter the stream leading back from the Cove.


The stream which feeds the Cove comes from near Malham Tarn (2 miles further). However it disappears into the limestone near Watlowes before reappearing at a cave at the foot of the Cove. Have a look at where the stream disappears (called Water Sinks). It is only 1/2 a mile from the pavements at the top of the Cove.

Download GPX file

Malham Cove 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 is the best place to park but this can become full and then parking is accepted on the side of the road towards Kirkby Malham.
Height to Climb: 77ms (253 feet)
Terrain: The National Park have extended the wide track to the village now avoiding the trawl up the road which was uncomfortable and a little risky. The track is very good and suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. There are a lot of steps up to the summit of the Cove and counting them will relieve the monotony of the climb!
Eating & Drinking: Malham has a good selection of pretty tea shops and 2 top walking pubs. Which one you choose usually depends on which is the least full. A second alternative is to drive the 1 1/2 miles to Kirkby Malham and enjoy a good pint at the Victoria Inn.
Similar Walks Nearby: Gordale Scar from Malham
A Circuit of Malham Tarn
Airton and Kirkby Malham
Places to Stay:


Prior Hall Stables, MalhamBull Barn, nr Malham