Learning at Malham Tarn

Visitors looking to see what they have caught in their nets

Remember those days of whiling away the hours building dens, turning stones to see what lurked beneath and fishing for tadpoles? When a sign of a good day was, the muddier the better? We use this as inspiration to deliver education activities in the Dales, creating fun-filled and memorable learning experiences for all.

What we do

There are lots of opportunities for learning and having fun for our younger visitors. We are open throughout the year and work with playgroups/pre-schools, primary schools and community groups.


The activities on offer suit a range of ages and abilities from early years to KS3 linking to a wide variety of topics such as habitat studies and food chains, local geography, food and farming, navigation and team building.

An example itinerary for a habitat study:
10.15am - Arrive
10.30am - Activity 1 e.g. pond dipping (life cycles, adaptation, food chains)
12 noon - Handwashing and lunch
12.45pm - Activity 2 e.g. owl pellet dissection (food chains)
2.15pm - Handwashing, toilets and collect bags.
2.30pm - Depart

" Excellent! A great day had by all on the Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve. Fun and educational activities with very knowledgeable Rangers."
- Local Primary School Teacher

Community groups

We are keen for everyone to discover and enjoy this special area. If you are a local community group looking for somewhere to visit then please get in touch or alternatively we could visit you and do a talk.

Activities on offer

Science through nature - Explore the National Nature Reserve and become a nature detective hunting for the inhabitants of Malham Tarn. From bug hunting and pond dipping to dissecting owl pellets, learn to identify creatures as well as life cycles, adaptation and food chains. Or you could spend a session looking out for footprints, feather, fur and poo! Spotting our larger animal residents can be tricky but following their tracks is certainly fun to do. Help our Ranger and pick up some top tracking tips.

Food and farming - Discover what life is really like on an upland hill farm. Talk to the farmer, see the machinery and maybe even feed some of the animals. We can put you in touch with two of our tenant farmers and they will host a visit for you. Alternatively you could harvest vegetables in our rustic walled garden learning about what plants need to grow and maybe use them to cook up a meal on an open fire.

Hardy cattle in the Yorkshire Dales
Hardy cattle in the Yorkshire Dales
Hardy cattle in the Yorkshire Dales

Navigation - An introduction to map reading skills, Ordnance Survey symbols and compass points or a digital treasure hunt using a GPS device to navigate around Malham Tarn.

Bush craft - Venture into the woodlands on an adventure with our Rangers to explore this hidden environment. Work as a team to build a den from branches, twigs and leaves, learn how to build a fire and have a go at cooking or create wild art using natural objects. Each bush craft session is bespoke to meet individual group requirements.

Children building a den in the woods
Den building in the woods
Children building a den in the woods

The John Muir Award - Discover, explore, conserve and share experiences of the great outdoors. The John Muir Trust has devised an environmental awards scheme that encourages people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places - places like Malham Tarn. We can deliver this award scheme on behalf of the John Muir Trust. To find out more about the award visit: www.johnmuirtrust.org/john-muir-award

Limestone landscapes - The Yorkshire Dales is often referred to as limestone country. With classic natural features such as limestone pavements with their jigsaw of clints and grykes, the magnificent Malham Cove and magical Janet’s Foss waterfall it is easy to see why. Groups can go on a guided walk to discover these fascinating features and learn how they were formed or maybe become a fossil hunter and explore the geological past of the Yorkshire Dales in this way.

The magnificent limestone cliff face, Malham Cove.
Malham Cove
The magnificent limestone cliff face, Malham Cove.

Secondary schools

From river studies, farm visits and glacial landscapes to conservation, ecosystems and climate change, there are a number of topics we can cover. If you’d like to know more please contact us.

Facilities, transport and access

If anyone in your group has mobility problems, please let us know and we will do our best to cater for them. There are accessible routes we can follow and a disabled toilet.

The Orchid House is used as our indoor space and we also have a minibus (seats 16) which we are happy to use to help with transport if your group is local.


Funding from our Higher Level Stewardship Agreement allows us to provide 25 visits free of charge. This agreement helps us to restore and protect the precious habitats and wildlife of the Malham Tarn Estate. As these are free visits are limited, please book early to avoid disappointment.

If you are unable to get the free visit, the cost for a full day of activities led by staff is £50, for half a day the cost is £25.


For more Information about our learning programme, please contact:
Heather Burrow (Visitor Experience Officer)
Tel: 01729 830416
Email: heather.burrow@nationaltrust.org.uk