Malham Cove Circular Walk

Try this magical Malham Cove circular walk

If you ever find yourself in the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales with a couple of hours to spare, make sure you take the time to squeeze in this little gem, a Malham Cove circular walk. At only 4 ½ miles (7 km) it’s not huge in distance but it more than makes up for it in interest. Taking in part of the Pennine Way National Trail, the magical Janet’s Foss waterfall, the epic Gordale Scar and all before ending up at the spectacular Malham Cove itself. For a short walk, there is plenty of stunning scenery.

Malham Cove circular walk map

Start of the Walk

Janet's Foss rest stop, Malham Cove circular walk
Janet’s Foss, on the Malham Cove circular walk

The Malham Cove circular walk starts in the main car park next to the visitor centre just south of Malham village. Cross the road and take the small bridge over Malham Beck. You are now walking on the famous, well defined Pennine Way. Turn right, heading in a south easterly direction beside the stream until you reach a junction of another footpath and head left.

This path cuts through the picturesque fields all framed by Yorkshire’s iconic dry-stone walls and soon comes to a gate which signals the start of an area of National Trust woodland. Follow the path as it winds its way around swathes of wild Garlic flowers before it comes to a dramatic end at the picturesque Janet’s Foss, a stunning pool and waterfall.

Gordale Scar

Gordale Scar, Malham Cove circular walk
Gordale Scar – the path narrows

Take time to explore the beautiful caves that surround the pool before continuing the walk to the left of the waterfall. You turn right when you reach a road before taking a gravel path in front of you running alongside Gordale Beck. The cliff walls on either side quickly close in as you head towards what appears to be a dead end, which is the imposing Gordale Scar.

Turnaround and head back out of the scar and back towards the road. Go over Gordale Bridge and through the gate onto the path heading NW. This soon becomes grassy underfoot and quickly gains height. The path winds its way up the side of the hill and eventually comes to a road. Take care crossing as this is on a bend and go over the steps on the opposite side adjacent to some sheep pens.

Now the path heads diagonally NW over Shorkley Hill and over the grassy plateau. Be careful not to go too near the shear edge in front and instead go through the gate in the wall which is just slightly off to the right.

Malham Cove

Limestone Pavement, Malham Cove
careful on the Limestone Pavement!

Carefully cross the crevasses of the Limestone pavement on the top of Malham Cove before taking the steps that lead down from the front, western side of the Cove. Once at the bottom swing around to the left to visit the foot of the wall.

Now head south away from the cove following the undulating smooth path alongside Malham Beck which eventually meets Cove Road. Carefully walk along this road back into Malham and back to the car park but not before getting the true Malham experience by popping into The Buck Inn for a well-earned refresher.


Find out more about the A-Z Adventure Series atlases – Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps in a book.

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