Caves and crags in Yorkshire's limestone Dales make for stunning walking.
Walking Route - Malham, Yorkshire
Malham > Gordale
Scar > Malham Tarn > Victoria Cave >
Average Time: 5 hours 20
Distance: 13.6 miles (21.9
Height Gain: 1357 ft
The Yorkshire Dales make an ideal destination for those long summer days. The mix of caves and crags brings interest that more than compensates for the lack of height, and nowhere demonstrates this better than Malham.
Maps: OS OL 2, OS LR 98
Photo Grade: 3
Start Point: SD
The Yorkshire Dales make an ideal destination for
those long summer days. The mix of caves and crags brings interest
that more than compensates for the lack of height, and nowhere
demonstrates this better than Malham.
Although avoiding the honeypots of Malham Cove and Tarn these can
easily be added into the route with minimal diversion. Gordale Scar
is spectacular in full flood, but summer water levels allow a
relatively easy ascent. The return route takes in the famous Victoria
Cave near Langcliffe, where 130,000y ears of climate change history,
flora and fauna have been studied.
History is an added attraction throughout the route with a Roman
camp, ancient field systems and long abandoned mines along the
Section 1: Malham to Gordale Scar
Distance: 1.8 miles (3km)
Height Gain: 458ft (140m)
From the car park at the National Park Centre turn left and cross the
road. At River House cross the bridge then turn right onto the
Pennine Way. Cross two stiles then turn left after the third one down
a signposted path to Janet's Foss.
Follow the fledgling River Aire upstream, past a barn on your
right and over a furthe couple of stiles to enter a small wood. The
path leads through a short section of trees to janet's Foss, a 4m
wide waterfall - below.
The top of the waterfall is made of tufa, a rock consisting of
pure calcium carbonate precipitated out from the lime rich water.
Continue past the waterfall to the road, where you trun right. Cross
the stream then turn left at the signpost to Goredale Scar.
Follow the path round the approach to the scar to the base of the
waterfalls. Gordale Scar takes a lot of water in winter and spring,
but summer levels allow an easy scramble either up the centre or the
left hand side.
Section 2: Gordale Scar to Malham Tarn
Distance: 1.78 miles (2.86km)
Height Gain: 500ft (152m)
Above the first waterfall the ravine widens slightly and the ground
gets easier. The path now turns to the north west towards the small
summit of Seaty Hill. As the path approaches the road keep to the
left at the fork and walk up to the road. Turn left along the road to
where the Pennine Way crosses.
Malham Tarn is just to the right with the stream sinking a few
yards down the Pennine Way to the left. The water is next seen at
Malham Cove, a mile away.
If the stream coming down Gordale Scar - above - is too swollen it
cuts off the chance of scrambling up below the first waterfall. To
continue the route means retracing your footsteps to the road. cross
Gordale Bridge then turn right at the Malham Cove signpost.
A series of yellow waymarks help guide you across fields to a
gate. Turn left at the gate and continue on past the barn to a road.
Cross the road and turn diagonally right , north west, and continue
to join the wall on your right. Stay to the right where the path to
Malham Cove turns off and continue north west over Malham Lings for a
mile and a quarter to the road.
Section 3: Malham Tarn to Victoria Cave
Distance: 4.7 miles (5.17km)
Height Gain: 610t (82m)
Average Time: 2 hours 10 mins
Turn left, along the Pennine Way, and follow the broad track left
then right to the Malham road. Cross the road onto a good track and
start the long climb towards Black Hill.
The path soon narrows, and follows a wall on the right past
ancient mine workings. As you approach Black Hill the path turns left
and starts to descend sllowly. After four miles the route turns left
as you approach Langcliffe, passing Jubilee Cave on your left.
A few yards on, as Attermine Scar opens up ahead, is Victoria
Cave. The cave was discovered accidentally in 1837 and has provided
archaeologists with an almost complete record covering 130,000 years
and including the first records of human habitation in the
Section 4: Victoria Cave to Malham
Distance: 5.2 miles (8.3km)
Height Gain: 799ft (243m)
Average Time: 2 hours 30 mins
The next mile and a quarter continue along the base of Attermire
Scar, a popular crag for rock climbers and a fine example of
limestone geology. Eventually the path turns left, just beyond
another old archaeological site at Attermire Caves,
Ahead lies the long climb to Rye Loaf Hill and Kirkby Fell,
passing just left of each. As you start the descent from Kirky Fell
you meet a junction at a wall. Go straight ahead here, keeping left
at the fork a few yards further on.
The route now descends Fair Sleets gate, passing another ancient
settleent and field system to the right, to meet Cove Road. Turn
right here and follow the road downhill into the village and your
start point, seen below in winter from Malham Cove.