Walking around Malham Tarn

Walkers enjoying the countryside around Malham Tarn

Walking around Malham Tarn is different from many other parts of the Dales.

What is Malham Tarn?

We're a dramatic, open area of limestone pavement and grassland, high peaks and rocky outcrops.  There’s also the tarn itself, serenely calm one day, dramatically grey and rough the next. This amazing expanse of open water is part of the Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve. It’s internationally important for the variety of flowers and other wildlife you can find here. Whatever time of year you choose to visit, it will live long in your memory.

Where can you go?

The Pennine Way runs through the area, from Malham village, past Malham Cove and the Tarn and higher up onto Fountains Fell. If you follow this route you will be able to experience the change from sheltered valley fields, walls and woodlands to the wild and desolate moorlands.  
 
If you are after something a bit shorter but equally enjoyable, try the walk from Malham village to the dramatic waterfall of Janet’s Foss. This lovely route goes through ancient woodland, carpeted with wild garlic and bluebells in spring and ends at the waterfall itself, home of the fairy Jennet, so legend has it.
 
We have put in a boardwalk through the wetter parts of the Tarn's nature reserve. The best time of year to experience this is late spring and early summer when you will be able to see bogbean, globeflower, marsh valerian and lots more. You may be lucky and see some deer, or even an otter.  
 
There are walking leaflets that you can pick up from leaflet dispensers across the property, or from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre in Malham. Alternatively, why not download a route below in advance of your visit?
 

Don’t forget to be prepared

At any time of the year, you will need suitable clothing and footwear, especially if you are thinking of heading out onto the moors and fell tops. Something warm and waterproof is ideal, along with comfortable boots or trainers, although in wet or wintery weather boots are best. Something to eat and drink is also handy too. Taking a map and compass with you is a good idea, especially if you are going up to the summits but you need to know how to use them.