Hiking in Malhamdale, Yorkshire

It’s Easter weekend and the sun was shining – how glad are we that we had booked a weekend of walking in the stunning Yorkshire Dales.

Our area of choice was Malham, a small village in the Dales around 10 miles from Skipton and 5 miles from Settle.  Malham itself was mentioned in the Domesday book as Malgun and has been a settlement for over 1000 years.  It is a pretty village with a couple of pubs, cafe, Visitor Centre, couple of shop and a stream running through the centre, however, it is most known for the excellent walking opportunities it offers.  In fact, it was named number 3 in the Top 100 UK Walks.

Malham Village
Heart of the village with the Lister Arms and YHA visible

We had only booked a couple of weeks before so choices of where to stay were pretty much non-existent.  Our only option based in the village was YHA Malham which was slap bang in the centre of the village and right next door to a pub The Lister Arms.  You can check out our review here.

The last time we were in the village Ella was only about 5 weeks old, it was a rainy day a bit gloomy and so quiet (we still loved its charm though).  Fast forward to last weekend and with the sun brightening everything in its’ path the village was buzzing with eager walkers/picnickers.

There is plenty of parking on the outskirts of the village, which was definitely needed, but as we were booked in the hostel we rocked up at just the right time to secure ourselves a parking spot.

We donned our walking boots, popped on our back-packs and set off with a quick stop at the visitor centre.

There are a number of walks around the area and you can either get these from the Visitor Centre or check the Malhamdale Website.

Walking trails
Walking Trails in Malhamdale

Day 1

For the first day we had opted for Walk 1 on the map, the Malham Landscape (but in reverse of the directions on the website).  So from the Visitor Centre you can either cross the stream or go over the bridge and turn right straight onto the Pennine Way.

At the first gate you take a left where you are signposted to Janet’s Foss so you know you are  going the right way.  There were so many people on the trail this day though so we didn’t need to consult our map.  It really was a case of follow the crowds.  Sometimes this would bother me a bit but the gifts you are rewarded with really make up for it.

The walk is well worn with an pretty easy path for the majority of the whole walk.  Once you get into the woodlands that take you to Janet’s Foss the ground is full of wild garlic, the subtle aroma permeating the air  is lush (actually starting to make you a little hungry).

At the end of the wooded walk you start to hear the noise of Janet’s Foss, which is just so pretty.  There are a couple of little caves which all the children on the walk were keen to climb into but most people just happy to sit, take photos and admire this pretty little fall.

After the falls, the walk can take you either on to Gorsedale Scar , up and over the countryside to Malham Cove or the road back to the village.  If you are heading this way I would definitely recommend heading to Gorsedale Scar.  It is also the perfect place to stop for a picnic (which is exactly what we did).

There is another stream that runs alongside the path that we had fun jumping back and forth over as well as spotting a number of frogs. At the end there is another small fall and a number of people were climbing up here as this is an alternative route to Malham Tarn. At the foot of the falls there were also a number of climbers so it was great to sit and watch these guys at work.

If not heading onto the Tarn (this would have been too much for little legs) then you turn back on yourself and back on the road take a right over the countryside.  It is then a slow climb over the hills with more spectacular views until you reach the gem of Malham Cove.

At the top of the Cove is a patchwork of limestone – the best stepping stone adventure for any children (and adults).  However before you tackle that you just have to sit and take it all in.  If you are lucky (and we were) you may even catch a few Peregrine Falcons as this is one of their habitats.

(I must point out at this point, as you will see from some photos, that Ella has a rather random top on – this is in fact a pair of leggings wrapped around her in variety of ways.  She was just “too hot” in her t-shirt and needed some air so this was her attire of choice).

After you have taken in the view again you can either carry on to the Tarn or take the 400+ steps down and head back to the village which is exactly what we did.  But not before one last look back at this amazing view.

Malham Cove
Malham Cove – no filter required

From the cove it is probably another 20 minute walk back to the village where we plonked ourselves on the lawn of the Lister Arms and enjoyed a well earned ice-cream and refreshment.

That night we headed back to the Lister Arms and had a gorgeous meal.  Portions were huge but we had certainly deserved a little treat.

Lister Amrs Lawn
Ella with her leggings fashioned as a top!!!

Day 2

Up and at ’em early was the motto today.  After a quick breakfast at the hostel we packed up the car and then headed off back down the Pennine Way.  We decided on a slightly shorter walk today as we had tired Ella out.  Plus we were hoping to get back and enjoy some garden time at home in the afternoon.

Today’s walk is number 5 on the list and whilst there were no magnificent limestone coves/waterfalls what it did have was vast open spaces and views as far as the eye could see.

The walk starts at the same place as we started yesterday but instead of heading towards Janet’s Foss you carry on over fields and streams and you are blessed with spectacular countryside.

The walk is relatively easy with a few slow climbs either road or field but nothing challenging.  You pass through two small hamlets/villages that are typical of the Yorkshire countryside.  Every time I visit places like this I just want to book myself in to a cottage  and immerse myself for a week or so.  Walking by day and snuggled up by night.


Throughout the walks, due to the time of year, there were so many lambs toddling alongside their mums.  It certainly made our walk a lot longer as we kept stopping to watch them play and feed.

With a fast pace you could complete this walk in little over an hour I reckon but with smaller children and the stop start of watching the animals, taking in the view and snapping some photos we pretty much doubled this time.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We followed a path to a gateway  that by all accounts Bill Bryson in his book “Notes from a Small Island” took his last look at Malhamdale.  It affords you with a treat of a view.  With rolling countryside, animals peppered about and the imposing Malham Cove in the background.


So as we headed back in to the village, and all walks lead back here, we were pleased with our efforts over the lasts couple of days.  We had certainly racked up the steps on our fitness trackers and  had the best of British in terms of weather, walks, views and a thoroughly great time.

All that was left was to grab another cone of Yorkshire Ice Cream and head back home.

So if you are in to walking and haven’t yet made it to Malham – then what is stopping you.

Why not PIN this great family hike



The Helpful Hiker

27 thoughts on “Hiking in Malhamdale, Yorkshire

  1. Nice Post and you have captured the experience well.

    I haven’t been to Malham for a few years now, but it seems as beautiful as it ever was. Thanks for sharing! #adventurecalling

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When the sun shines, Yorkshire really is divine! My sister lives near here and I’ve seen her photos of Malham in all weathers but shamefully have never been myself. Next time I’m staying with her I’ll insist we go. Looks like you had an amazing time. #fearlessfamtrav

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve always fancied visiting Malham Cove and had no idea there was so much more to see than just the rocks, nor that the village is so close. The waterfall looks well worth a wild swim and the whole area seems refreshingly child friendly. (Love Ella’s hot weather clothing initiative!). Great post #adventurecalling

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This looks like a great place to walk, love your photos. I really need to explore more of Yorkshire-it is stunning. The views are to die for! Thanks for sharing and the next #AdventureCalling will be open tomorrow morning.

    Liked by 2 people

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