Local information for the village of Malham, Yorkshire Dales, UKBack buttonContents page


Walking in Malhamdale 

The following walks are available to download (map and routes in printable A4 PDF format) in the FREE Malhamdale Brochure available here

Malhamdale offers some of the best walking among some of the finest scenery in the British Isles. The terrain, however, must not be taken for granted and walkers must be adequately prepared, and, in particular, must be properly shod. Proper walking boots giving adequate ankle support are essential for this area as, although some of the most popular paths are now surfaced almost to town centre standards, most paths are uneven if not actually rough. Trainers, for example, are not adequate for most of the walking in the area. It should also be noted that the limestone of which the spectacular scenery of Malhamdale is composed can be a testing surface on which to walk, and great care must be taken especially when the limestone is wet or has a rime of mud on it when it becomes very slippery. That having been said, the delights of the walking in Malhamdale are self-evident. A pause for breath at almost any point on any of the walks described here will give the opportunity to look around at some of the most breathtaking scenery you are ever likely to come across! The backbone of walking in Malhamdale is the Pennine Way which is shown on this map as a broad dotted green line heading more or less North-South. All of the walks described here use the Pennine Way for some part of their journey. Where this is the case the Pennine Way is not overlaid on the map by the appropriate route colouring. The walks described all start and finish at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority car park in Malham.

Malhamdale Walking Map, Yorkshire Dales

Walk 1 Malham Landscape Spectacular 7.125kms (4.5 miles)

Turn left out of the YDNPA Car Park and follow the road through the village. By the last building pass through the hand-gateway on the right to follow the well-made and well used footpath, part of the Pennine Way, to Malham Cove. On approaching the Cove, continue straight ahead to gain a view which gives a striking impression of the grandeur of the feature. Back-track to the footpath junction and turn right to follow the path which climbs steeply up the western end of Malham Cove. The path has been stepped for much of the climb. At the top follow the path to the right crossing the limestone pavement. [*] At the far side of the pavement leave the Pennine Way (which veers to the left) and continue ahead and then to the right on the Pennine Way uphill towards the corner of a wall. Continue with the wall on your right for about 250 metres when you will encounter a road which you should cross, going downhill for a few metres to a gate on your left. The path proceeds slightly downhill to pick up the corner of a wall which it then follows, passing a barn on your right. The path turns right and passes through a gate. Cross the field to the stile, after which the path leads downhill until it reaches the road. Turn left along the road, crossing a small bridge, to a gate on your left giving access to Gordale Scar. Pass through the gate on your left and follow the path into the gorge of Gordale Scar – a spectacular demonstration of the power of the natural elements. Retrace your steps back to the road, turn right and continue along the road for about 100 metres to access the footpath on your left to Janet’s Foss, an attractive waterfall. Continue past the waterfall as the path follows the Gordale Beck (on your left hand side) through the wooded gorge, carved out of the limestone by the Beck, passing through two gates and out into the fields on the floor of the valley. Follow the surface path through another four gates, keeping the river on your left. After passing a barn on the left, the path meets the junction with the Pennine Way where you should turn right, immediately passing through the first of three gates. As you come back into the village, turn left over the clapper bridge, cross the road by River House and follow the road to the left to return to the Car Park.

Walk 2 Malham Cove, Dry Valley, Malham Tarn and Pikedaw 12.25kms (7.6 miles)

Follow the route of Walk 1 as far as the top of Malham Cove, indicated by the symbol [*]. After crossing the limstone pavement, turn left and cross three stiles as you walk up through dry valley. After crossing a fourth stile, take the right fork in the path. Your path leads past the area, on your right, where the stream flowing from Malham Tarn sinks underground, emerge at the foot of Malham Cove. Turn right onto the road, crossing the stream before taking the footpath on the left by the small car parking area and following the path to Tarn Foot, where lovely views can be had of Malham Tarn and its surroundings. Retrace your steps back to the road turning right onto it and crossing the stream again. Turn left off the road onto the Pennine Way, this time taking the broad track (bridleway) which curves to the right around the hillside (leaving the Pennine Way), and bears left after passing through a gateway to lead up to a road. Bear left along the road for a few metres and, immediately after the cattle grid at Langscar Gate, turn right through a field gate on to a broad, well defined track which leads uphill, curving to the right. Turn left once through the next gateway, and follow the path, still well defined, uphill through other gateways until you reach the junction with the Malham to Settle bridleway where there is a prominent fingerpost beside a field gate. Turn left through the field gate, and bear right off the main bridleway on to a route through access land which passes on your right the remains of spoil tips associated with the former mining activity in the area. Follow the path until it appears to be about to plunge steeply downhill at a point where a less well-defined footpath crosses at right angles. Turn left on to the crossing footpath, but not before you have paused to take in the spectacular view across Malhamdale and down the Aire Valley beyond Skipton. Continue along the footpath, passing a limestone outcrop, until you regain the bridleway. Turn right on to the bridleway and follow it downhill until it joins the Cove Road at a gate. Turn right and follow the road downhill. After a kilometre or so you will pass the point at which the path you took to Malham Cove takes off, on your left. Follow the road back through the village to your starting point.

Walk 3 Janets Foss, Weets Top, Calton, Airton and Hanlith 13 kms (8 miles)

Full route 13 kms (8 miles) Shorter route 8.6 kms (5.3 miles) Turn left out of the YDNPA car park, cross the road by River House to cross the clapper bridge behind the blacksmiths, turn right on to the Pennine Way and follow it to the third gate. Immediately after the gate leave the Pennine Way turning left on to the path sign-posted to Janet’s Foss and follow the surfaced path through five gates alongside the Gordale Beck, through the wooded gorge and past Janet’s Foss to the road. Turn right along the road and follow it (steeply) uphill until, just below the crest of the road, a walled, rough track is sign-posted to the right. Take the track to Weets Top and pass through a gate, adjacent to which are the remains of an ancient wayside stone cross, on to the open moor. Just beyond the gate where the surfaced bridleways fork, take the right hand route signed to ‘Calton 2¾ miles’. Follow the footpath downhill for about 450 metres at which point the track from Hanlith joins. If you wish to follow the shorter route, bear right and follow the waymarked track downhill over the open moor. After about 1100 metres the track passes through a gate and continues as a lane between two walls (Windy Pike Lane). Just over 1200 metres further on, the track acquires a tarmac surface as it descends steeply into the hamlet of Hanlith. On the second of the downhill hairpin bends look for the signpost to the right for the Pennine Way, and follow the Pennine Way back into Malham. For Calton, continue gently downhill following the bridleway across the open moor, taking in the splendid views of Malhamdale and beyond, and after 3.25 kilometres (2 miles) you will descend quite steeply via a zig-zag track into the wooded Foss Gill. Here the track runs beside the beck, crosses a ford and rises slightly between stone walls to enter the hamlet of Calton. Turn right down the road and continue ahead, following the road down and around a right angled bend to the river bridge below the village of Airton. Before crossing the bridge turn right down a short track and over a stile to pick up the Pennine Way footpath. On the opposite side of the River Aire you will see a former mill building (now converted into residential accommodation), which serves as a reminder of the hidden industrial past of this and similar rural areas. The Pennine Way continues alongside the river, and after passing left through a stile and three gates, crosses a wooden footbridge over a stream. (Your route now turns right, however, if you want refreshments the second footbridge ahead gives access to ‘Town End Farm Shop and Tearoom’). Turn right after the first footbridge, keeping the main river on your left. Follow the Pennine Way to Hanlith Bridge, turning right over the stile and follow the road steeply uphill to the right-hand hairpin bend. On the left at the apex of this bend the signpost indicates the continuation of the Pennine Way to Malham. Follow the path, now somewhat up the hillside from the river, passing through five gates, which will return you to the point at which the path to Janet’s Foss turns off, on which you started this walk. Continue along the Pennine Way and re-cross the clapper bridge as you enter Malham to return to the Car Park.

Walk 4 Malham, Kirkby Malham, Airton, Hanlith 9 kms (5.6 miles)

Turn right out of the YDNPA car park, and walk up the road for 320 metres until you cross a stile on your right, signposted to Kirkby Malham. The footpath is not very distinct in the field you have now entered so aim towards the left of the hummock in front of you, going diagonally up hill, crossing the farm track and over the stile. Continue along the edge of the field, keeping to the fence which bends to the right, on your right hand side, until reaching the corner of the field where there is another stile. Follow the path slightly downhill to another stile. Cross the next field to a stone stile to the right of a field barn, after which bear slightly right to cross the field to another stone stile set to the right of a large tree. Cross the field to another stone stile and then bear slightly left to reach a field gate, before turning right onto the road. Follow the road for 300m before turning right onto a track signposted ‘Footpath’. After 100m turn left at the footpath finger-post to ‘Cow Close Lane’. Cross the stile to follow this path, keeping a stream bed to your left towards a field gate which appears to the left of a disused small quarry. Once through the gate continue ahead, curving round to the left in front of a farm house (New Close) and crossing a stile to climb slightly uphill to the right to access the farm track. Turn left along the track and follow it to Cow Close Lane, where turn left again and go downhill to Kirkby Malham. At the commencement of the village houses turn right to follow the roadway to the front of the parish church. (If refreshment is needed at this point the Victoria Inn is about 75 metres ahead.) In front of the church, by a parking/turning area, follow a signpost for the footpath to ‘Otterburn 2¾ miles’ over a footbridge and up some steps through two gates. Turn to the right, uphill, to cross a stone stile, and then bear left to cross another stone stile at the lower left corner of a small plantation. Continue uphill keeping the small plantation on your right. Cross the farm track and over the stile into a field and navigate diagonally left over the crown of the field down to a stone footbridge alongside Deepdale Plantation. Uphill and slightly right will bring you to a stile in the right hand wall, adjacent to a field gate. Cross the stile and turn left, following the wall on your left uphill to a handgate on your left signed to ‘Airton ½ mile’. Through this gate, the path drifts slightly left, down hill to Deepdale Barns where, after passing through the field gate, look for the stile (with a ‘Footpath’ finger-post) over the wire fence on your right, the stile being to the left of another field gate. Bear left around the corner of the field wall, and, before reaching the gateway ahead, turn right to follow a more distinct footpath along the wall side and over stone stiles. Immediately after the third stile, follow the fork in the path diagonally to the left which picks up another field wall on your left. Follow this footpath through a stile, three gates and another stile, the last one of which drops you into the main road along the valley. Turn right to follow the road slightly uphill for about 70 metres. Here a footpath on the left through a gate is signed to ‘Malham 2½ miles’. (If refreshment is required at this point continue along the road for another 50 metres for Town End Farm Shop and Tea Room at Airton.) Follow the footpath down to the footbridge over the infant River Aire, cross the bridge and walk ahead towards another footbridge but turn left before the second bridge to follow the Pennine Way as it follows the riverside to Hanlith Bridge. Turn right on to the road and continue uphill through the hamlet to the acute right-hand bend of the road, from the left of which the Pennine Way continues up the valley to Malham. On entering the village turn left over the stone clapper bridge, cross the road and return to the starting point.

Walk 5 Malham, Hanlith, Kirkby Malham, Accraplatts, Malham 5.9 kms (3.6 miles).

Turn left out of the car park, cross the road by River House, cross the stone clapper bridge and turn right to follow the Pennine Way to Hanlith. On reaching the road to Hanlith, turn right down through the hamlet and continue ahead over Hanlith Bridge into Kirkby Malham. At the junction with the main road cross straight ahead, passing (or not!) the Victoria Inn and the parish church on your right, and curving to the right. At the junction with Cow Close Lane, turn left (towards Settle) and proceed uphill for just under a kilometre. Where the road bears about 30 degrees left a farm track continues ahead (stile on the left of the gateway) signed to ‘Malham 1½ miles’. (This gateway is the one referred to in the last pages of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” from which he took his last look at Malhamdale.) Go ahead along the track to turn right as directed by a footpath finger-post, over a stone stile and downhill across the field to another stone stile, and continue downhill, passing to the left of a ruined barn to a wooden step stile which gives access to a footbridge over the beck in a wooded gully. Cross the next field keeping the modern farm buildings about 50 metres to your left, to a ladder stile. Cross the stile and continue with the wall on your right to Ploughleys Barn. Cross the next ladder stile, and follow the track as it curves to the right behind the barn and through a gateway into the next field. Bear slightly left as you head down through the field (no longer a track) to a fingerpost directing you onto another farm track. Follow the track as it slopes down to meet the main road, turning left before the road into the car park.


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