Malham Tarn Yorkshire Dales Family Cycle trail

Cycling trail

For a fun family day out, explore the beauty of Malham Tarn by bike. It's surrounded by some of Britain's finest limestone scenery and there's also an opportunity for wildlife detectives to spot the Tarn's varied birdlife from the bird hide.

Visitors mountain biking on the Malham Tarn Estate


The route around Malham Tarn


Watersinks car park


From Watersinks car park follow the bridleway sign, which points towards "Waterhouses", across a rolling grassland track. This track follows the Pennine Way


Turn left onto the gravel track and go through the gate, following the track alongside Malham Tarn towards the woodland and Tarn House


At Tarn House (Field Study Centre) follow the track to the right, round the back of the house and through the narrow limestone cutting. Continue until you reach the bird hide on your left. This is a great spot for a break and to observe the birdlife of Malham Tarn

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Turn left at the first left fork on to Pot Hole Lane and follow this lane along the edge of the nature reserve until you reach the gate. Go through the gate and turn left on to the road

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Follow the road for a short distance and take the first left turn, signposted to Malham. Continue along the road for approximately half a mile until you reach the crossroads. You'll see the Smelt Mill chimney, diagonally off to your left, from the crossroads.

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Go straight on at the crossroads, following the sign to Malham for approximately one mile. You'll see a bridleway sign on your left pointing to Watersinks (3/4 mile).


Follow the bridleway back towards Watersinks car park, where you can savour the stunning panoramic view of Malham Tarn, with Fountains Fell in the background


Watersinks car park

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Malham Tarn Yorkshire Dales Family Cycle trail


Generally gentle grass and gravel paths with some moderate slopes and some narrow walled lanes.  Grass tracks may be muddy after wet weather.

This is a great family-friendly route, with just one small incline that may require some to push their bikes!

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 vigilant when cycling 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 Yorkshire Dales Family Cycle trail

How to get here

Watersinks car park
By train

regular service to Settle -

By road

By Car: Close to A 65 and  Settle.  4 miles N/W of Malham.  Follow signs from Malham.  Park at Watersinks car park (NT GR SD893658), Malham Tarn

By bus

By bus:

By bicycle

By bike: near Sustrans route 68 and Yorkshire Dales Cycle way (regional route 10). 

Malham Tarn Yorkshire Dales Family Cycle trail

Facilities and access

  • Car park
  • Pub, cafe and shop in Malham village (2.1ml/3.5km).
  • National Trust exhibition at Town Head Barn, Malham
  • WC at Yorkshire Dales National Park car park in Malham village
  • WC at Orchid House behind Tarn House