Malham Tarn archaeology walk

Walking trail

Explore this area of ancient limestone pastures, upland hill farms and the beautiful Malham Tarn, and discover archaeological remains in a landscape which has been used by man since the Mesolithic era.

Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales


Map route for Malham Tarn archaeology walk


Street Gate car park, grid ref: SD905657


Pass through the gate and follow the wall on your right along Mastiles Lane to the Roman Camp. The location of this legion's temporary marching camp was perfect for marshalling and manoeuvring troops. At the end of a day's march the soldiers would dig a ditch with a bank inside and place wooden stakes on top as a palisade.


Turn left, taking the footpath across the north-east corner of the Roman Camp, and follow towards Middle House Farm. After you've crossed Gordale Beck, look to your right - the tops of the fells were full of settlements during the Iron Age.

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From Middle House Farm you can wander up the hill to the left of the farm to look at the 16th-century farmstead of Old Middle House (point 4) or head along the old Monks Road to point 5. Old Middle House, now a derelict 16th-century farmhouse, was a typical early Dales settlement, with lambing crofts and a few closes for hay and sheepfolds. It was built on the site of a much older building which housed shepherds for the Fountains Abbey estate.


Return down the hill, pass through the gate and then follow the path to your right.


Follow the old Monks' Road to Malham Tarn. Much of the land on Malham Moor was used by Fountains Abbey to rear sheep, hence the name Fountains Fell.

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When you reach the shores of Malham Tarn turn left and then take the left fork onto a grass track which goes beneath Great Close Hill, away from the Tarn.

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Pause at Great Close Plantation and take a look around you. This was the site of the great cattle fairs of the 18th century. Drovers from Scotland would bring up to 20,000 cattle over the summer to trade here, enabling local farmers to supply nearby towns and cities with meat and dairy produce.


After Great Close Plantation, bear right to join the track and return to Street Gate.


Street Gate car park, grid ref: SD905657

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Malham Tarn archaeology walk


Footpaths are mostly across fields and unmade tracks. One short steep uphill section. Route can be muddy after wet weather.

Dogs are welcome on leads, however they are not allowed on the boardwalk of the National Nature Reserve. Watch out for local notices as there may be restrictions in woodland or farmland at sensitive times of year, during the lambing season, or between March and the end of July when ground-nesting birds are on eggs or raising their young.

Please be aware that you'll be walking through areas with sheep and cattle. Please be vigilant when walking near livestock, especially those with young. Try not to get too close and keep your dog on a lead under close control. If approached by cows, move away as carefully and quietly as possible, and if necessary let go of your dog's lead and let it run free, the dog will outrun the cows.

Malham Tarn archaeology walk

Contact us

Malham Tarn archaeology walk

How to get here

Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DL
By train

Settle station 7 miles (11.3km) away and Skipton station 19 miles (30.6km) away.

By road

4 miles (6.4km) north-west of Malham. Street Gate car park, where this walk starts, is south-east of Malham Tarn. Take Malham Rakes road out of Malham.

By foot

6 miles (9.6km) of the Pennine Way runs through the estate.

By bus

From Skipton: 210/211 and 883/884 (passing close Skipton , w/e, to Malham village only); from Settle: 580/210 (to Malham village only). See Dales Buses for details. Also, National Trust shuttle bus service (890), Settle-Malham Tarn, Easter-Oct, w/e only.

By bicycle

The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway runs through Malham village and by Malham Tarn, (Regional Route 10), see Sustrans for further information.

Malham Tarn archaeology walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilet (not wheelchair accessible) at Orchid House, behind Tarn House
  • Café, pub and accommodation available in Malham village
  • Visitor centre at National Park centre in Malham village (not National Trust)
  • Dogs welcome on leads
  • Accessible toilets with RADAR facilities available at Yorkshire Dales National Park car park in Malham Village