Malham Cove – Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit

If you’re considering a trip to Yorkshire, or you already live here and want to get out and see more of your home county, the famous cove should firmly be at the top of your list. The large curved limestone formation is one of Yorkshire most visited landmarks, and for good reason.

With sweeping views of the Yorkshire Dales, plenty to explore and some of the most unique landscapes found anywhere in the region, it’s no wonder that thousands of tourists visit Malham Cove all year round to take in its iconic surroundings.

Where is Malham Cove?

Found less than a mile (0.6 miles) north of the village of Malham, a picturesque, North Yorkshire village with plenty to offer tourists wanting to see a unique side of Yorkshires landscape. It’s one of the top locations in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and because of that, there’s a vibrant community, with pubs, cafes and even a tourism centre.


The unique landscape was formed by a waterfall which carried meltwater from glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age over 12,000 years ago. Going back further, over the last one and a half million years, it’s thought that Malham has been buried in enormous sheets of ice and every time the ice melted, the flowing water eroded the face even more, creating the structure that we see today.

How high is Malham Cove?

Malham Cove Yorkshire Dales National Park

The peak is over 230 feet or 70 metres high. To put that into context, if it were a manmade structure, it would be the 10th tallest building in Yorkshire. This makes it popular with rock climbers and thrill seekers who can be found either scaling the face of Malham Cove or performing acrobatic feats on a tight rope suspended between two sides of the cove.

In Harry Potter

After being featured in one of the most successful film series of all time, Harry Potter in 2009, it received worldwide exposure. Since then, there has been a marked rise in the number of tourists who visit the Cove each year.

During a scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the limestone pavement can be seen as a location where main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermoine camp out during one of the stories climatic arcs. Ironically, camping is prohibited at the top of the cove, although this doesn’t stop Potter fans recreating the now iconic scenes.

Bird life

Another reason for its increasing popularity is the rare birdlife that can be found in the area. The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most impressive birds of prey found within the shores of the British Isles.

Since 1993, they have nested at here and can be spotted frequently on clear days. This makes it on of the most popular spots in Yorkshire for bird watching.

What is there to do here?

Malham Cove. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

As far as things to do go, perhaps the most popular activity is walking. With unrivalled views of the surrounding Yorkshire Dales, and some interesting terrain, it also provides a brilliant spot for walking. Although the steep climb to the top can be challenging for some people, it is not overly difficult. This makes it a popular spot for dog walkers, who can be seen frequenting the area.

Thrill seekers also find things to do here. It’s 70 foot incline makes it popular with rock climbers. During the summer months it would be rare to visit and not see a group of climbers taking on the challenge.

For those looking for a more relaxing trip, the Cove is perfect for a picnic. Although the winds can get relatively strong, on a clear and sunny day, the views and surroundings provide a great spot for lunch. Just make sure you bring a bag to clear up after yourself as there are no litter bins in the area.

What’s near Malham Cove?

Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss are by far the most popular and most attractive sights at Malham but they aren’t the only things there! The small pretty village at the base of the Yorkshire Dales is surrounded by pretty limestone walls and well worth exploring for a less strenuous scenic walk. Nearby, you’ll also find The Lister Arms which has very recently been named as The Best Pub in Yorkshire!

Can I spend a full day at Malham Cove?

The circular walk from Malham village is one of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Covering 7.5 miles, it visits Janet’s Foss waterfall, Gordale Scar, Malham Tarn and finally, the Cove. The walk itself should take 3 – 4 hours but with such breathtaking scenery to enjoy and walking abilities varying from person to person, it could easily take you longer. So, the walk itself will take up a full morning or afternoon and after all that walking, you’ll probably want to relax and refuel at a village café or pub.

Is Malham Cove busy?

It’s probably quite rare to visit and not see at least a few people on your journey. However, during the summer months and particularly during the school holidays, Malham can get quite busy. With its pretty scenery and some of the best views in Yorkshire, people flock here on warmer days to enjoy the scenic walks or enjoy a picnic. During the Spring, the village hosts an annual event known as Malham Safari, during which colourful characters are placed in various locations in the area and families are invited to partake in a treasure trail. This particular time is certainly the busiest by far for Malham and the village easily attracts thousands of visitors.

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