Malham Cove and Gordale Scar

  • Malham Cove from West - © William Mackesy
  • Malham Cove - © William Mackesy

Key information: Malham Cove and Gordale Scar

  • Magnificent, indeed truly classic, limestone scenery, combining a frenzy of features into one walk.
  • Clamber up the steep but exciting near-cliff by dramatic Gordale Scar?s valley-head waterfall; a delightful grassy upland tramp through typical limestone outcrops; view Malham Tarn, unusual on the top of limestone country. (You can even divert to the site of a Roman camp.) Descend a long, narrow ravine-turning-into-mini-canyon to the huge limestone pavement at the top of the famous and often overcrowded horseshoe of cliffs at Malham Cove.
  • A very popular walk, with potentially crowded highlights: be Buddhist about them.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points3
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Negs: popularity, crowds even

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 2.5hrs
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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Malham Cove - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

These tourist magnets need to be seen, despite the crowds: they are validly renowned as magnificent, indeed truly classic, limestone scenery, combining a frenzy of features into one walk. They are better walked as a 7+ mile circuit, although this is still heavily walked.

While you can start with Malham Cove, if you begin with Gordale Scar, a deep water-cut gorge, you can clamber up the steep but exciting near-cliff by its valley-head waterfall. ((It can be necessary to make a longer alternative ascent in bad weather.)

Then it is a delightful grassy upland tramp through typical limestone outcrops toward Great Close Scar and the base of Malham Tarn, a large lake surrounded by flat fields and marshes, unusual on the top of limestone country. You can divert to the site of a Roman camp just east of 'Street Gate'.

Swing left and descend a long, narrow ravine-turning-into-mini-canyon back down to the classic limestone pavement at the top of the famous and often overcrowded horseshoe of cliffs at Malham Cove. Drop into the Cove and join the child buggies.

There are plenty of alternative walks in the area, which will get you to emptier spaces. You can approach Malham Cove over the hill to the east of the valley below, and you can head westward for Pikedaw Hill, which has features aplenty and good views. And head east along old Mastiles Lane onto Kilnsey Moor, taking in that Roman camp.

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For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Yorkshire Dales page.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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