Walk: Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire

This short and easy walk around the wildlife-rich waters of Malham Tarn and beneath the cliffs of Great Close Scar is a Yorkshire Dales classic

28th September 2017
3.5 miles
2 hours

This short walk around Malham Tarn beneath the looming cliffs of Great Close Scar offers ramblers a chance to expereince a variety of habitats, from craggy limesteone bluffs, to think forest, peatland and a wildlife-rich upland lake.

At 377 metres above sea level, Malham Tarn is the highest marl (calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud) lake in Britain.

Malham Tarn Yorkshire Dales
Skies darken over Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales ©Getty
1. Wildlife-rich waters

Park at the Water Sinks Gate car park, the flat expanse of Malham Tarn's surface glimmering to the north. Walk towards the upland lake and veer right as you reach the water's edge. The tarn is home to coots, moorhens and gold crested grebes, along with several species of waders and six species of freshwater fish. 

2. Beneath rock

Keep the Ha Mire Plantation to your left and make your way north-east towards the towering bulk of Great Close Scar. The limestone cliffs overlook Malham Tarn and are a popular rock-climbing spot.

Great Close Scar, North Yorkshire
Malham Tarn House sits in woodland beneath Great Close Scar ©Getty

The footpath broadens to a north-bound gravel track – in the spring and summer months, its verges are dotted with wildflowers.

3. House in the woods

Beyond the scar, bend left into woodland towards Malham Tarn House - a field study centre. Follow the track past a couple of boat houses, looking out for oystercatchers, lapwings and redshanks stepping through the shallows of the lake.

Malham Tarn lapwing
Spot lapwings wading along the shores of Malham Tarn ©Getty
4. The Moss 

At Home Farm, turn left and keep to the track. To your left is Tarn Moss. You will soon reach a crossraods. Turn left again and complete the cicuit of the lake back to the car park.

All-terrain Tramper wheelchairs are available for hire from the Malham Tarn Visitor Centre.

Find more wonderful walks in the Yorkshire Dales.


Main image ©Getty

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