Janet’s Foss is a picturesque plunge waterfall that’s located near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. By doing a quick and simple walk from Malham, you can easily reach Janet’s Foss. Although, most people visit Janet’s Foss as part of the circular Malham Cove Walk. In this guide, we’re going to tell you about the short Janet’s Foss Walk as well as the option to visit Janet’s Foss as part of the longer circular Malham Cove Walk.
Table of Contents
What Is Janet’s Foss?
Janet’s Foss is a well-known waterfall in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a small plunge waterfall formed by Gordale Beck at the point where the stream enters the quaint Wedber Wood.
According to local folklore, the name Janet refers to a fairy that lives in a small cave behind the waterfall. The word ‘foss’ means waterfall in Nordic. So, when people say Janet’s Foss Waterfall, they’re literally saying Janet’s Waterfall Waterfall! Beck and I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Janet during our visit, which was a shame!
Where Is Janet’s Foss?
Janet’s Foss is located near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the northwest of England. Click on the image below to access an interactive map of the location on Google Maps.
FYI – Janet’s Foss postcode: BD23 4DL
Janet’s Foss Walk Stats and Map
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 4.5km (2.7 miles)
- Time: 1.5–2.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 30m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Parking/Trailhead: Malham Visitor Centre Car Park
- Map: Wikiloc
Janet’s Foss Walk: Trail Description
In the trail description below, we’ll talk about the out and back Janet’s Foss Walk. After describing this walk, we’ll cover information about the even more popular and famous circular Malham Cove Walk via Janet’s Foss.
Where to Park For Janet’s Foss
Most people park at the pay and display car park next to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre in Malham. So, that’s where most people start the Janet’s Foss Walk. You can pay £3 for less than two hours of parking or £5 for more than two hours of parking. Certainly, the return Janet’s Foss Walk shouldn’t take longer than two hours. But, we recommend seeing Janet’s Foss as part of the longer Malham Cove Circular Walk, which will definitely take more than two hours.
Given the popularity of visiting Malham, there is sometimes overflow parking on the surrounding farms. These are operated by the farm owners. Overflow parking will cost roughly the same.
If you arrive early enough, it’s also possible to find street-side parking on Chapel Gate. This is the road leading to the visitor centre and the village of Malham. It’s expected that you pay £1 using the honesty box system. Of course, these spaces fill quickly, but it’s the cheapest parking option.
Malham to Janet’s Foss
From Malham, you’ll cross the bridge that’s located opposite the visitor centre. You’ll then turn right, before turning left onto Riverside Path. It’s a charming woodland trail that meanders and winds alongside Gordale Beck.
After approx. 2.2km, you’ll arrive at the peaceful and tranquil Janet’s Foss. The plunge waterfall is only little; but, it’s absolutely delightful. The waterfall and surrounding area are often covered by the shade of the woodlands. So, it’s the perfect place to rest and have some lunch.
If you’re just doing the Janet’s Foss Walk, then you’ll retrace your steps from the waterfall to Malham to complete the walk. But, we highly recommend that you extend the walk to see other nearby natural attractions. Even if you don’t plan on doing the Malham Cove Circular Walk via Janet’s Foss, then we recommend, at the very least, continuing to the nearby Gordale Scar after exploring Janet’s Foss. Let’s look at this latter option below, starting with some trail specs and a link to a GPS-guided map.
FYI – Janet’s Foss swimming is very popular in the warmer months. Expect to see wild swimmers taking a dip in the small natural pool at the base of Janet’s Foss.
Gordale Scar Walk via Janet’s Foss
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 6.1km (3.8 miles)
- Time: 2–3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 205m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Parking/Trailhead: Malham Visitor Centre Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
Janet’s Foss to Gordale Scar
From the eloquent Janet’s Foss, you’ll continue on the woodland trail heading north. After turning right onto Gordale Lane, you’ll soon cross Gordale Bridge, which continues as Hawthorns Lane. You’ll then turn left, passing through Gordale Scar Campsite.
From the campsite, you’ll soon find the entrance of Gordale Scar – a mesmerising 100 metre-high wall limestone gorge. Near the entrance of the gorge, you’ll arrive at the two lower falls of Gordale Scar. You’ll also just get a glimpse of the main waterfall (upper falls) in the distance.
Admittedly, at this point, many walkers are happy with the view and return to Malham to finish the Gordale Scar Walk via Janet’s Foss. Otherwise, walkers will exit Gordale Scar and then continue along the circular Malham Cove Walk (AKA Malham Landscape Trail and the Janet’s Foss Circular Walk), visiting the famous Malham Cove. Here’s a map of this latter option.
Otherwise, if you’re keen to get a better look at the Gordale Scar upper falls, you’ll need to do some scrambling! Of course, scrambling Gordale Scar isn’t for the fainthearted. The rocks are slippery and there are obvious dangers to those who are inexperienced.
It’s probably best for hikers to have some scrambling experience and know-how before taking on the Gordale Scar scramble. If you’re able, competent and experienced, you’ll enjoy a challenging scramble towards the main Gordale Scar Waterfall. The views from near the base of the upper falls are tremendous.
Read more: Gordale Scar – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide
Extended Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove Walk
After enjoying the waterfall, you’re free to scramble back down the rocks. You can then retrace your steps to complete the Gordale Scar Walk via Janet’s Foss. Alternatively, after scrambling down, you can pick up the circular Malham Cove Walk, as mentioned earlier.
Of course, scrambling down is more dangerous than scrambling up. So, that’s why most people continue to climb up and out of Gordale Scar, which is another way of continuing with the popular circular Malham Cove Walk after seeing Janet’s Foss. Once you’ve climbed up and out of the gorge, you’ll find a trail to the left, which very safely descends the western face of Gordale Scar. The trail weaves through an area rich in limestone, called New Close Knotts, where you’ll enjoy some of the best views in the Yorkshire Dales. After descending the western side of Gordale Scar, you’ll eventually turn right to continue along the Malham Cove Walk.
Of course, there’s one more alternate option, that we’d like to recommend. Essentially, the standard circular Malham Cove Walk only visit Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove. But, there’s an extended version of the Malham Landscape Trail, which also involves visiting the amazing Malham Tarn. This is the walk that Beck and I did, and can highly recommend it.
So, if you’re sold on doing the extended Malham Cove Walk, which also visits Malham Tarn, then continue reading below. We’ll start with some trail stats and a link to a GPS-guided map.
Extended Malham Cove Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 15km (9.3 miles)
- Time: 4–6 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 360m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead/Parking: Malham Visitor Centre Car Park
- Map: Wikiloc (avoiding scrambling Gordale Scar); Wikiloc (scrambling Gordale Scar)
Read more: Malham Cove Walk – The Ultimate Guide
Gordale Scar to Malham Tarn
After climbing out of Grodale Scar, you’ll continue on a trail heading north. You’ll soon cross Henside Road and continue on a trail heading towards Malham Tarn and the impressive Great Close Scar, which is another beautiful limestone scar.
Malham Tarn is the largest natural lake in North Yorkshire, whilst being just one of only two natural lakes in the Dales. Fascinatingly, Malham Tarn is the highest lake in England and one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe.
Given the low pH of this glacial lake, you’ll find rich wildlife and birdlife there. So much so, that it’s been given National Nature Reserve status. It’s also in a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.
Malham Tarn to Malham Cove
From Malham Tarn, you’ll briefly follow the Pennine Way towards Watersinks Car Park. After passing the car park, you’ll continue on a trail that heads in a southerly direction towards Malham Cove. You’ll soon arrive at the top of Malham Cove, where you’ll find the incredible 300-metre wide Malham Cove limestone pavement. Indeed, it’s one of the finest examples of limestone pavement in the UK. It was actually a filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010). From the limestone pavement, you’ll also enjoy a stellar view towards the village of Malham.
After seeing the limestone pavement, you’ll then descend a well-maintained set of steps, which are known as the Malham Cove steps. After walking down the steps, you’ll cross over the quaint stream of Malham Beck and arrive at the famous Malham Cove. The 80-metre limestone cliff face is truly marvellous. Make sure to take your time to explore the cliff face, before walking back to Malham to complete the extended walk.
How to Get to Janet’s Foss
The easiest and quickest way to get to Janet’s Foss in Malham is to drive there yourself. As mentioned, you’ll park at either the Malham Visitor Centre Car Park or find street-side parking at Chapel Gate. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
It’s also possible to use public transport to get to Malham. From Skipton, you can take a bus to Malham. We recommend using Google Maps to plan your journey. Although, we don’t recommend using public transport to get to Malham, as it may be a slow and long-winded journey, depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK. Also, bus services can be quite limited, particularly during the week. So, it’s best to drive to Malham yourself.
Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.
Where to Stay
Given Malham is only a small village, accommodation options are quite limited. Nonetheless, there are some fantastic accommodation options. To help you find what you’re looking for, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – YHA Malham: this is by far the best budget option in Malham. YHA Malham offers cheap dorm rooms; but, they also offer very affordable private rooms. YHA Malham features a nice garden, an on-site shop, a self-catering kitchen and laundry facilities.
- Mid-range – The Buck Inn: this is a wonderful accommodation option for those looking for a slightly cheaper mid-range stay. Despite the lower rate, you’ll enjoy a very luxurious stay at The Buck Inn. Guests rave about its comfort, ideal location and the friendliness of the staff.
- Mid-range – The Lister Arms: this quintessential 18th Century country pub is the most popular accommodation option in Malham. The Lister Arms offers a stylish yet comfortable and cosy stay, whilst the country inn has a stellar reputation for its hearty English meals.
- Luxury – Beck Hall Malham: this hotel is one of the most highly rated options in Malham. Beck Hall Malham is conveniently located, so you’ll only be a short walk from Janet’s Foss. Beck Hall Malham is a lovely dog-friendly hotel with a well-renowned garden bistro restaurant. With 21 rooms available, we’re hoping there’s space available when you visit.
In terms of Janet’s Foss camping options, there are two excellent campsites located near the waterfall. Gordale Scar Campsite is located near Janet’s Foss and the opening of Gordale Scar, which makes it a convenient location for exploring these waterfalls.
Otherwise, you’ve got the Malham Riverside Campsite, which is conveniently located near Malham Cove.
Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Of course, there are many waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales. Here’s a list of other epic Yorkshire Dales waterfalls to explore.
- Aysgarth Falls: a popular and famous waterfall, located in Aysgarth.
- Cautley Spout: visit England’s highest waterfall from above ground in the Howgill Fells.
- Cauldron Falls: a lesser-known waterfall, in West Burton, located near Aysgarth Falls.
- Bolton Abbey Waterfall: after reaching the summit of Simon’s Seat, you can scope out the lesser-known Bolton Abbey Waterfall.
- Muker Meadows Circular Walk: you’ll explore many waterfalls on this walk, including the brilliant upper and lower East Gill Force.
- Hardraw Force (Hardraw Falls): a famous waterfall that featured in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves!
- Hull Pot: an excellent waterfall, which can be seen on a circular walk exploring one of the three peaks – Pen-y-ghent.
- Settle Circular Walk: from nearby Settle, you’ll visit Catrigg Force, Attermire Scar and Scalebar Force.
- Ingleton Waterfalls Trail: of course, there are many waterfalls to see along the Ingleton Falls Trail.
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Janet’s Foss.
How Long Is Janet’s Foss Walk?
It’s approx. 4.5km (2.7 miles) long.
Is Janet’s Foss a Hard Walk?
On its own, the Janet’s Foss Walk is considered easy.
How Far Is Janet’s Foss From Malham?
From Malham, it’s an approx. 2.2km walk to reach Janet’s Foss.
How Deep Is Janet’s Foss?
Its greatest depth is around 3–5 metres.
Is Janet’s Foss Pram Friendly?
Yes, on its own, the Janet’s Foss Walk is pram-friendly. Although, the trail is quite narrow and steep in sections. So, a pram may be tricky to navigate, especially when the trail is muddy.
How Was Janet’s Foss Formed?
It’s formed by Gordale Beck, which cascades over the lip of the limestone bedrock, pouring into the pool below.
These are our hiking gear essentials for Janet’s Foss Walk.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Other Yorkshire Dales Guides
Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales
- Grassington: Everything You Need to Know About Grassington
- Hawes: The 16 Best Things To Do In Hawes
- Ingleton: 10 Awesome Things To Do In Ingleton
- Masham: Everything You Need to Know About Masham
- Buckden: The 5 Best Things To Do In Buckden, Yorkshire
- Keld: The 5 Best Things To Do in Keld, North Yorkshire
- Clapham: The Top 13 Things To Do During A Visit to Clapham, Yorkshire
- Ribblehead: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Ribblehead
- Visit early: Malham is a very popular place to visit in the Yorkshire Dales. Certainly, in summer, during school holidays and on the weekend, it can get really busy. We highly recommend visiting Janet’s Foss early in the morning or late in the afternoon. That way, you’ll avoid the crowds and enjoy a quieter walk.
- Make a weekend out of it: Malham is such a charming village. You should definitely stay for the weekend!
- Explore other nearby national parks: don’t just stop at Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Head to the captivating Lake District (guides coming soon) or North York Moors National Park.
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