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Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar

There are currently 6 comments and 5 photos online for this walk.

Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar
Author: Dalewalker, Published: 09 Jul 2012 Walk Rating:star1 Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide star1 Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide star1 Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide star1 Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide star1 Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide
North Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar
Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty: boot Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide boot Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide boot Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide boot Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide boot Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide
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0002_sunny_intervals Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide Today's weather
17 °C, Partly cloudy, Wind: 8 mph W
Next few days: Hover over icon for more info.
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A 7.5 mile circular and very challenging walk, passing through some wonderful limestone scenery as it visits the iconic Yorkshire Dales sites of Janet's Foss, Gordale Scar, Malham Tarn and Malham Cove. With beautiful waterfalls, a lake, a limestone pavement and an impressive natural cove you will be spoiled with natural delights along the way.

The walk follows a mixture of roads and dale footpaths. There are several climbs and descents throughout. You will need to negotiate flights of steps, kissing gates, gates and a few stiles (of various designs, including stone wall stiles and ladder stiles). The challenging part of the walk is a scramble up Gordale Scar - a rocky climb which is suitable only for experienced walkers and should NOT be attempted after periods of heavy rain (when the waterfall can be flowing strongly) or in icy conditions. You will be sharing much of the open moorland with free roaming sheep. Allow 4 hours.

From Skipton, take the A65 to Gargrave (4km). Turn right and follow the road in to Airton village (4 km). From Airton, follow the road through Kirkby Malham to Malham. Park in the National Park Car Park which is found on the left just before entering the village. Approximate post code BD23 4DA.

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Walk Sections

Start to Woodland
Start to Woodland

Start point: 54.0587 lat, -2.154 long
End point: 54.0609 lat, -2.1512 long

Leave the car park and turn left along the road to enter Malham. Just before you reach the Buck Inn, turn right to leave the road and cross the footbridge. Once over the footbridge, turn right along the stone path. Pass through a wooden gate and continue ahead, now heading away from Malham on a stretch of the Pennine Way. Follow the path through a kissing gate with Malham Beck on your right.

After the next kissing gate, turn left to follow the footpath signed to Janet's Foss. The path has a wall on your right and a fence on your left. Stay with this footpath, passing through three more kissing gates along the way and ignoring a footbridge to the right. Take the next kissing gate ahead to enter the beautiful woodland ravine, which is filled with wild garlic in the spring months.

Woodland to Janet's Foss
Woodland to Janet's Foss

Start point: 54.0609 lat, -2.1512 long
End point: 54.0638 lat, -2.1395 long

Follow the pretty woodland path and this will lead you to Janet's Foss waterfall. You may be wondering where the waterfall gets its name. Foss is the old Scandinavian word for waterfall. According to legend, Janet was the queen of the local fairies and lived in a cave behind the waterfall. The waterfall carries Gordale Beck over this limestone outcrop and into the deep pool below. The pool was traditionally used for sheep dipping.

Janet's Foss to Gordale Scar
Janet's Foss to Gordale Scar

Start point: 54.0638 lat, -2.1395 long
End point: 54.0711 lat, -2.1319 long

Continue on the footpath which now climbs to the left of the waterfall. You will emerge via a kissing gate to reach the lane. Turn right and follow the road for about 50 metres (ignoring the first footpath kissing gate on your left) to a point where it bends round to the right. Here you will see a gate and clear path on the left-hand side for Gordale Scar. Take this path which leads you through a camp site and then continues pleasantly next to a stream for about half a mile, before arriving at the imposing form of Gordale Scar ahead.

Your journey up Gordale Scar is a short sharp scramble – this should not be attempted in icy or very wet conditions and is only suitable for fit and experienced walkers. (If it is not suitable for you. you should swap to the more accessible iFootpath walk called 'Janet's Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove' which takes a simpler route to the cove.)

Gordale Scar to Minor Road
Gordale Scar to Minor Road

Start point: 54.0711 lat, -2.1319 long
End point: 54.077 lat, -2.1364 long

Taking good care, follow the scramble ahead up Gordale Scar. At first glance, you may think there does not appear to be a path up the waterfall, but as you approach closely you will see a rough path to the left of it – this climbs very steeply and involves some scrambling. After the initial scramble, the route becomes easier, passes a second waterfall and heads slightly to the left up some steps. At the top, the path swings around to the left and heads away from the valley below. Your path flattens out, becomes grassy underfoot and crosses a wall via a stone stile.

Continue in the same direction. The path becomes gradually more defined as it climbs steadily out of the gorge. Simple walking on this obvious path eventually brings you to a stile over a wall and onto a minor road.

Minor Road to Malham Tarn
Minor Road to Malham Tarn

Start point: 54.077 lat, -2.1364 long
End point: 54.0933 lat, -2.1574 long

Bear right to join this road – stay on the road itself (the left-hand branch), not the track (the right-hand branch). At the crossroads, go straight ahead onto the stone track. Follow this ahead, passing a circular copse of trees on your right.

You will come to a gate ahead, with a National Trust Malham Tarn sign ahead. Pass through the gate and continue on the stone track a little further, where you will be rewarded with lovely views of Malham Tarn on your left. The tarn is a glacial lake and one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe.

Malham Tarn to Top of Malham Cove
Malham Tarn to Top of Malham Cove

Start point: 54.0875 lat, -2.163 long
End point: 54.0735 lat, -2.1553 long

When you are ready to continue, turn around and retrace your steps back to the gate. Pass through this and, just a few paces later, fork right to join the Pennine Way leading you across the grass. You will emerge into the Watersinks car park. Cross over the road and take the footpath opposite. This leads you across the moorland to reach a stile.

Cross the stile and continue south on the path for nearly 2 kilometres, as it leads you through classical limestone scenery. The going is easy and following the route south eventually brings you to a stile and, after that, a junction in the path. Turn right (heading west).

You will now cross a short section of the limestone pavement above Malham Cove, made famous by Harry Potter. After dropping down to the head of the cove (on a clear path) the path stops abruptly and then crosses the limestone pavement (some care is needed). A path appears on the far side where the pavement ends.

Top of Malham Cove to Bottom of Malham Cove
Top of Malham Cove to Bottom of Malham Cove

Start point: 54.0735 lat, -2.1553 long
End point: 54.0719 lat, -2.1616 long

The path turns quickly into a long staircase of stone steps which drops steeply to the valley floor and the spectacular setting which is Malham Cove. Climbers may be on the rock face, but it is one of the great natural wonders of British walking. Take time to enjoy the idyllic scene.

Malham Cove to End
Malham Cove to End

Start point: 54.0719 lat, -2.1616 long
End point: 54.0707 lat, -2.1589 long

Once at the bottom you will pass through a gate and reach a fork in the path. At this fork, take the right-hand branch and follow the path as it heads south, alongside a small stream, towards the village of Malham. From the foot of the cove to the village centre is one kilometre distance and full of interest. Pubs and tea shops galore await you in the village at the end of the walk.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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network Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author Dalewalker and may not be reproduced without permission.


6 comments for "Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar"

What an amazing walk, however like others we thought the ‘scramble’ up Gordale Scar too challenging. We instead opted to go round, but when we reached the road we didn’t follow the route to ‘Watersinks‘ we instead walked up the road until we again joined this route just before heading down to ‘Malham Tarn’. Also the best part of the walk when above ‘Malham Cove’ is saved until near the end.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Remember we have an alternative walking route from Malham on iFootpath (Janet's Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove), specially provided for walkers that don't want to tackle this Grade 5 Difficulty walk and scramble.

By pauleapo on 02 Jul 2018

ADMIN UPDATE JUNE 2018: Thank you to all the walkers that have contacted us with recommended changes to this walk. Whilst we were not able to track down the original walk author for help, another volunteer walker has kindly helped us out by walking the route again and enabling us to make some changes. We have changed the initial part of the walk to follow the footpath to Janet's Foss, rather than the road. We have changed the difficulty rating from 4 Boots to 5 Boots to reflect the challenge of the Gordale Scramble and made this clearer in the introduction. We have also updated the full GPS file and directions. For less adventurous walkers, we have created an additional iFootpath walking route called 'Janet's Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove' that avoids the scar scramble and is more accessible for all.

By Facebook on 16 Jun 2018

A couple of safety issues on this route
1/ Goredale lane is not really safe for walking. It gets a lot more traffic than you would expect, and has several places where there are blind corners. There is no reason to use it because you can follow the pennine way south from Malham for a few hundred metres then East on a very pleasant path through fields then woodland to Janets Foss. Only a few metres longer than the road route.
2/ The demands and safety of the scramble up Goredale Scar waterfalls varies tremendously according to the weather. In spate or icy conditions it is treacherous and impossible for older walkers, children and pets. There is an alternative route from Goredale Bridge which is less dramatic but still very pleasant.

By dvglasgow on 07 Mar 2018

it is a challenging walk. I did the path rather than "scramble" up Gordale Scar which would have been more of a climb, and wet too as the waterfalls gushed. Unless you're a salmon or very hardy, the path is more realistic. lots of gentle ascents and beautiful views.

By Walking for Pax & Catherine on 20 Nov 2017

We did this walk yesterday and would like to add that it is not a scramble up Gordale Scar, would say that it was meant for experienced walkers on this type of terrain and not good for dogs. The walk was lovely but we had to take the road around Gordale Scar.

By MrsF on 19 Jul 2016

Hi, thanks for the details of this walk! Can I make a couple of comments for people in the future might find helpful!?
The first part of the walk, could be more pleasureable if replaced by a walk alongside the stream, bringing you out at Janet's foss! Also, 6.2miles??? I can't think that that's correct, we shortened the walk (by not going anywhere near the tarn) and we still did 12km!!

By sammi2502 on 05 May 2015

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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Uploaded: 18 Jul 2018
pennine way from Malham Tarn to Malham cove

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