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Malham Cove: Everything You Need to Know About Visting (2023)

Malham Cove: Everything You Need to Know About Visting (2023)

Malham Cove is an incredible limestone cliff in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. When it comes to attractions in the Yorkshire Dales, Malham Cove is one of the most popular and highly visited. That’s partly because Malham Cove was used as a filming location for Harry Potter! In our guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Malham Cove. We’ll talk about the shortest walk required to visit Malham Cove. But, we’ll also look at other walking options, which include visiting the nearby Malham Tarn, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss. We’ll then cover practical tips about visiting the small village of Malham. This will include information about parking, Malham campsites, hotels (such as the well-known Beck Hall Malham) and pubs.

Read our guides about Malham Tarn, Gordale Scar, Janet’s Foss and the Malham Cove Walk

What Is Malham Cove?

Malham Cove is an 80-metre high amphitheatre-shaped limestone cliff wall. You’ll find limestone rock formations all over the Yorkshire Dales landscape. But, it’s difficult to find a more beautiful limestone attraction than Malham Cove. In particular, the limestone pavement above the cove is unique and special. That’s for two main reasons.

First, it’s one of the largest and best examples of limestone pavement in the UK. Second, the limestone pavement was literally the filming location for one of the Harry Potter films. When you visit, you’ll find the limestone pavement floor actually creates a perfect viewpoint over the small village of Malham, where you might just make out its campsites and pubs.

Where Is Malham Cove?

Malham Cove is located in North Yorkshire, near the village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Malham is a very small village with just a few hotels (the best being Beck Hall Malham), campsites and pubs. Indeed, the star attraction of Malham is its famous cliff wall.

To help get your bearings, you can press on the image below to access an interactive map of the Malham Cove location.

How to Get to Malham Cove

To access Malham Cove, you’ll need to walk there from the small village of Malham. Let’s look at your parking options so you know exactly where you’ll start the walk from.

Malham Cove Car Park (Malham Park Visitor Centre)

Most people park at the pay and display Malham Park Visitor Centre Car Park. So, that’s where most people start the walk from. You’ll pay either £3 (under 2 hours) or £5 (over two hours) for parking. It’s likely you’ll pay a fiver as you’ll want to spend more than two hours visiting the astonishing natural site. Given the popularity of Malham Cove, there are sometimes other overflow parking spaces on the surrounding farms, operated by the farm owners, which will cost around the same rate.

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, spaces are limited, but it’s the cheapest parking option.

FYI – Malham Cove postcode for the visitor centre car park: BD23 4DA

Malham Cove Walk

To visit Malham Cove, you’ll need to do a short 1.6km walk to get there. Also known as the Malham Cove hike, you’ll enjoy a gently undulating trail, that’s easy to navigate. If you want to scope out the limestone pavement above the cove, this will involve a short extension. By doing so, you’ll walk up the short but steep Malham Cove steps to arrive at the top of the cove, where the sublime limestone pavement is located.

Let’s look at some trail specs and a map for this short walk to Malham Cove.

Malham Cove Walk Details

  • Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 5km
  • Time: 1.5–2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 135m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead/Parking: Malham Park Visitor Centre Car Park

Malham Cove Walk Map

Here’s a map of the short Malham Cove walk. Press on the image below to access a map with GPS-guided directions.

Malham Cove Walk: Description and Photos

In the trail description below, we’ll talk about the highlights of the Malham Cove walk.

Malham Cove

From Malham, you have two trail options for reaching Malham Cove. You can either walk along Cove Road, passing through the village of Malham, with Malham Beck to your right. Along the way, you’ll pass the village’s pubs, the well-known Malham Beck Hall and the Malham Riverside Campsite. After passing Malham Riverside Campsite, you’ll join a trail, that’ll lead you to the sublime cove.

Alternatively, you can walk briefly along Finkle Street, passing the village green to your right, before joining a trail much sooner. Heading in a northerly direction, you’ll soon pass by Malham Beck Hall and Malham Beck to your left. The trail then continues through farmland, before leading through Cove Pasture. Personally, Beck and I followed this trail. We really enjoyed this option as it gave us the opportunity to explore the open farmland and countryside earlier on in the walk.

Eventually, the two trails converge at the quaint stream of Malcolm Beck. Soon enough, you’ll arrive at the mesmerising limestone cliff walls. Take your time to explore the magnificent cliff face!

Dan walking in front of a limestone cliff wall.

Malham Cove Steps

Some people will simply visit the base of Malham Cove and then return to Malham from there. But, we highly recommend that you walk to the top of the cove to explore the fascinating limestone pavement. To do so, you’ll need to venture up a winding set of steps.

Dan on a set of limestone steps

Malham Limestone Pavement

Once you’ve walked up the steps, you’ll arrive at the mind-blowing 300-metre wide Malham Cove limestone pavement. Also known as the Malham rocks, the Malham Cove geology on display is simply amazing. So much so, that the Malham Cove limestone pavement was chosen as a filming location for Harry Potter! But, more on that later.

Other than scoping out the interesting features of the rock platforms, the limestone pavement creates an awe-inspiring lookout over the village of Malham! After enjoying the views, you’ll simply retrace your steps to return to Malham to finish the walk.

Dan on the Malham Cove limestone pavement (a Harry Potter filming location) where you can see Malham and its campsites, pubs and hotels such as Beck Hall Malham

Other Points of Interest Near Malham Cove

So, we’ve just described the simplest, quickest and easiest way to explore Malham Cove. But, we actually recommend a longer walk. That way, you’ll explore other nearby attractions, which are just as sensational as Malham Cove. Below, we’ll tell you about an extended walk option, which has to be one of the best walks in England!

FYI: if you’re particularly interested in learning more about Malham Tarn, Gordale Scar or Janet’s Foss, just click on the link to that guide provided below. That way, you’ll be able to see the individual article we wrote about that attraction and all the in-depth information to go with it.

Malham Cove Walk (Extended Malham Landscape Trail)

The longer Malham Cove Walk, which is an extended version of the Malham Landscape Trail, explores some additional natural attractions near the cove. This includes visiting Malham Tarn, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss. Below, you’ll find the trail specs, including a link to a map with GPS-guided directions.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 15km
  • Time: 4–6 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 360m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead/Parking: Malham Park Visitor Centre Car Park
  • Map: Wikiloc

Read more: Malham Cove Walk – The Ultimate Guide

Let’s look at the extra natural attractions that you can explore by doing a longer Malham Cove walk.

Malham Tarn

After exploring the limestone pavement, you’ll join a trail heading in a northerly direction. Along this trail, you’ll explore more of the windswept limestone landscape. After nearly 2km, you’ll cross the road near the Watersinks Car Park, joining the Pennine Way trail. You’ll soon arrive at the calm waters of Malham Tarn, which is a glacial lake.

In fact, it’s the largest natural lake in North Yorkshire and the highest lake in England. Given the rich wildlife at the tarn, 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. With all of that said, we definitely think Malham Tarn is worth extending your walk for. Although, the natural attractions keep getting better and better on this extended walk.

Read more: Malham Tarn – 5 Best Walks at Britain’s Highest Limestone Lake

Dan walks on a trail by a glacial lake
Malham Tarn

Gordale Scar

After seeing Malham Tarn, you’ll head south, picking up a new trail that leads you to the impressive Gordale Scar. It’s yet another epic limestone landscape that we highly recommend exploring. Basically, Gordale Scar is a limestone ravine (gorge). Its imposing walls are around 100 metres tall! Running through Gordale Scar, you’ll find mindblowing geology, and also a waterfall!

Read more: Gordale Scar – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Gordale Scar Waterfall (Gordale Falls)

Gordale Scar Waterfall (AKA Gordale Falls) is an impressive waterfall that you’ll find hidden in the ravine. Indeed, this waterfall is one of the best in the Yorkshire Dales. Exploring and scrambling around Gordale Scar Waterfall is particularly fun and adventurous.

After scoping out the waterfall, it’s possible to scramble down the rocks by the side of the falls to exit Gordale Scar to continue the walk to Janet’s Foss. Although, this option is reserved for experienced hikers. Additionally, it’s much easier and safer to scramble up the rocks. So, if you plan on scrambling through Gordale Scar, it’s best to do this extended circular walk in an anti-clockwise direction instead.

Alternatively, you can follow a simpler trail, through New Close Knotts, that descends the western face of Gordale Scar. Along this route, you’ll enjoy some of the finest views of Malham. Eventually, you’ll join a trail, passing near the Gordale Campsite (a popular camping option in Malham), which leads to the lovely Janet’s Foss.

Gordale Scar Waterfall (Gordale Falls), near Malham Cove and the Malham Cove campsite

Janet’s Foss

Janet’s Foss is another waterfall that can be explored on this longer Malham Cove walk. The serene plunge waterfall is only small. But, it’s supremely delightful. The waterfall is formed by Gordale Beck at around the point the stream drops down into Wedber Wood. In the warmer months, you’ll find wild swimmers taking a dip in the small natural pool.

From Janet’s Foss, you’ll continue along the Riverside Path, which is a charming forest trail that follows alongside Gordale Beck. The trail eventually leads you back to Malham.

Read more: Janet’s Foss – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Dan at Janet's Foss
Janet’s Foss

Other Malham Cove Walking Routes

There are other walking routes that involve exploring Malham Cove and other nearby attractions. Below, you’ll find the two other most popular route options.

  • Malham Cove Circular Walk (AKA Malham Cove Short Circular Walk): this walk simply involves visiting Malham Cove, the limestone pavement and Janet’s Foss.
  • Malham Landscape Trail: this walk is the same as the Malham Cove Circular Walk, but with an out and back extension to Gordale Scar Waterfall.

What to Expect During A Visit

Given the beauty of Malham Cove, it’s a very popular site to visit. Indeed, in summer, during school holidays and on the weekend, it can get really busy. We highly recommend visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon. That way, you’ll avoid the crowds and enjoy a quieter walk.

Of course, one of the reasons why Malham Cove is so popular is because it was used as a filming location for Harry Potter!

Malham Cove: Harry Potter Filming Location

That’s right, the well-known Malham Cove became even more popular after it was used as a filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was released in 2010. You may remember the scene where Harry, Hermoine and Ron are camping on a wide limestone pavement during their search for the Horcruxes. Well, that’s the limestone pavement at Malham Cove!

The Malham Cove limestone pavement was a Harry Potter filming location. From there, you can see Malham and its campsites, pubs and hotels such as Beck Hall Malham.
The Malham Cove limestone pavement was a Harry Potter filming location

More Harry Potter Filming Locations

Of course, other than Malham Cove, the UK is home to many must-see Harry Potter filming locations. For instance, you’ve got the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct in Glen Nevis, Scotland. This well-known train line was used for the Hogwarts Express. Also, in the Glen Nevis area of Scotland, you’ll find Steall Falls. For you Potterheads, you’ll be ecstatic to know that Steall Falls was used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during the tri-wizard tournament when Harry is fighting the dragon for the egg.

How to Get to Malham

The easiest and quickest way to get to Malham is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car.

Car Hire

DiscoverCars.com

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.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

It’s also possible to use public transport to get to Malham. From Skipton, you can take a bus, which alights at the bus stop out the front of the Buck Inn – one of Malham’s best pubs.

Booking Trains

Trainline

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.

We recommend using Google Maps to plan your journey. Although, personally, we don’t recommend using public transport to get to Malham, as it may be a slow and tedious journey, depending on where you’re travelling from. Certainly, it’s best to drive to Malham yourself.

Where to Stay in Malham

We think it’s worth exploring more of the gorgeous village of Malham and spending the weekend there. Given it’s a small village, accommodation options are limited. But, by far, the best accommodation option is Beck Hall Malham.

Beck Hall Malham

Beck Hall Malham is one of the most highly rated and popular Malham Cove hotel options. Conveniently located in the centre of the village, you’ll only be a short walk from the incredible cove. Beck Hall Malham is a lovely dog-friendly hotel and bistro restaurant, that’s really the go-to for accommodation in Malham. With 21 rooms available, we’re hoping there’s space available at Beck Hall Malham when you plan to visit.

Malham Campsites

If you’d prefer a spot of camping, then there are two Malham campsites, which are beautifully located. You’ve got the Malham Riverside Campsite, which is conveniently located, just a stone’s throw away from the stunning cliff walls. Another camping option in Malham is the Gordale Scar Campsite. Located at the opening of Gordale Scar, this is another fantastic Malham campsite and stellar camping option.

Where to Eat: Malham Pubs

Thankfully, there are quite a few Malham Cove pubs to choose from to satisfy your hunger or thirst! The most famous of the Malham pubs is the Lister Arms, which also makes for another fantastic accommodation option. Additionally, you’ve got the previously mentioned Buck Inn, which is probably runner-up in the best pubs in Malham category. Although, if you’re looking for Malham pubs with the cheapest stays, then you might prefer the Buck Inn.

Other Places to Visit in the Yorkshire Dales

If you want to see other natural attractions in Yorkshire, then you’ll have to explore more of the breathtaking Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ve listed some of the best places to visit and walks to do in the Yorkshire Dales.

  • Aysgarth Falls: explore the truly sublime Lower, Middle and Upper Aysgarth Falls.
  • Cauldron Falls (West Burton Falls): a lesser-known waterfall that’s nearby Aysgarth Falls.
  • Hardraw Force: one of the most famous waterfalls in Yorkshire after featuring in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
  • Ilkley Moor: a famous moorland in West Yorkshire.
  • Simon’s Seat and Bolton Abbey Waterfall: explore the epic rocky outcrop at Simon’s Seat, the underrated Bolton Abbey Waterfall in the Valley of Desolation and The Strid in Strid Wood.
  • Ingleton Waterfalls Trail: of course, there are many waterfalls to see along the Ingleton Falls Trail.
  • Cautley Spout: England’s highest waterfall above ground, can be seen on a walk around Howgill Fell.
  • Nine Standards Rigg: explore the summit of Hartley Fell by checking out the Nine Standards Riggs monument.
  • Brimham Moor and Brimham Rocks: an outstanding National Trust attraction, that’s best enjoyed on a short circular walk through the moorland.
  • Burnsall to Grassington Walk: this classic walk explores two gorgeous towns in the Dales, whilst taking in all of the breathtaking nature in between (including seeing Linton Falls). The Grassington Moor Leadmining Trail is also a fascinating historical trail, located just outside of Grassington.
  • Conistone Pie and Dib Circular: a lovely circular walk taking in the limestone landscape surrounding the small town of Conistone.
  • Keld Waterfalls Walk: you’ll explore many waterfalls on this walk, including the brilliant upper and lower East Gill Force and Kisdon Force.
  • Settle Caves and Waterfalls Walk: from nearby Settle, you’ll visit Catrigg Force, Attermire Scar and Scalebar Force.

FAQs

Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Malham Cove.

From the Malham Cove limestone pavement, you can see the village of Malham and its campsites, pubs and hotels such as Beck Hall Malham.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Malham Cove?

It’s free. You’ll just pay for parking.

​​​​​​​How High Is Malham Cove?

It’s 80 metres high.

How Long of a Walk Is Malham Cove?

It depends on which walk you choose to do. If you’re just doing the short return walk from Malham, it’ll take around 1.5–2 hours, totalling around 5km.

Is Malham Cove a Difficult Walk?

The short return walk is easy. The extended Malham Landscape Trail is considered a moderate-difficulty walk, whilst it’s considered hard if you choose to scramble and climb through Gordale Scar.

Do You Need Hiking Boots For Malham Cove?

No, not particularly if you’re only doing the short walk. Otherwise, if you’re doing any of the longer circular walks, then, yes, we recommend hiking boots. That’s because limestone pavement can be slippery in wet conditions.

Is Malham Cove Dog Friendly?

Yes!

Was Harry Potter Filmed at Malham Cove?

Yes, Malham Cove was used as a filming location for Harry Potter! For more information about Harry Potter and Malham Cove, read above.

Is There a Malham Cove Waterfall?

Not usually these days. Only when there has been heavy rainfall, a temporary waterfall can flow over Malham Cove. Although, back in the day (we’re talking during the Ice Age), a river used to flow down the valley above the cove, which would have plunged over the lip of the cove, creating a constant and likely spectacular waterfall.

Gear Essentials

These are our gear essentials, which we particularly recommend if you’re doing the longer Malham Cove walk.

Osprey Skarab 30
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
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
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
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.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

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

Hardraw Force

For more information about the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, click the button below. Otherwise, to help you get started, read our 42 Best Yorkshire Dales Walks or 48 Best Yorkshire Dales Waterfalls guides.

Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales

Bonus Tips

  • Make a weekend out of it: Malham is such a charming village in the Yorkshire Dales. You should definitely stay for the weekend. Whether you stay at the Riverside Campsite or Beck Hall Malham, you’re just a stone’s throw away from the cove and the pubs in the village.
  • Explore other nearby national parks: don’t just stop at the Yorkshire Dales. Head to the beautiful Lake District (guides coming soon) or North York Moors National Park.
  • Head to the pub: even if you’re not staying overnight in Malham, get to one of Malham’s fantastic pubs for a refreshing pint after exploring Malham Cove.

Please leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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