Situated at the source of the River Aire, Malham has one of England’s most spectacular geological features in the form of an 80 metre high, semi-circular cliff called Malham Cove, formed at the end of the last ice age when meltwater gorged out an enormous waterfall.
If you are a hiker or enthusiast of breathtaking scenery, Malham Cove is just a half-hour walk north of the village. The water pouring over the edge of the cove may have long gone but it is still a sight to behold. A mile and a half north of the cove is Malham Tarn, a glacial lake that remained after the glaciers had retreated. Classed as a National Nature Reserve and one of the highest lakes of its type in Europe, the tarn has many types of water birds and waders, and has a diverse mix of aquatic flora and fauna. In 2016 water voles were reintroduced, fifty years after they were last seen on the tarn.
The stunning scenery doesn’t end there. Less than a mile to the east of the cove is the limestone gorge of Gordale Scar. Originally a cave system, the roof collapsed long ago to form a ravine with walls of over a 100 metres and two waterfalls running down its length. During the 18th and 19th century it was regarded by artists and writers such as William Wordsworth and JMW Turner as one of the greatest natural wonders of England.
If you want a less strenuous walk, the waterfall of Janet’s Foss on Gordale Beck is an easy twenty-minute walk from the village. Whilst falling only a few metres, it drops into a large pool, once used for sheep dipping by local farmers and is set in a beautiful woodland landscape with a glorious display of bluebells in spring.
Setting aside the scenery around the village, Malham itself is a picturesque delight. Dating back at least a thousand years, the village of today was established around the 17th century. It is as close the perfect little Dales village as you can get, with old stone buildings and bridges.
There are two pubs in the village, the Buck Inn and the Lister Arms. The Buck Inn was built in 1874 to service the growing tourist trade, wishing to seeing the local natural wonders. It serves locally-sourced food and has 11 en-suite rooms. The Lister Arms is an old coaching hall. An attractive ivy-covered building, it sits on the edge of the village green with a beautiful view of the village and hills beyond. It too has local-sourced food and has 23 en-suite rooms.
Malham has plenty more accommodation, with a Youth Hostel, a campsite, and plenty of B&BS, guest houses, bunk barns and self-catering cottages. If you want to take your best four-legged friend with you, the Beck Hall Hotel is a dog-friendly pleasant place to stay in the village. It had 18 en-suite rooms with all rooms allowing dogs of all shapes and sizes to stay.
During the August bank holiday Saturday, there is Malham Show. With Malham Cove as a back-drop, the show has all kinds of events, including showjumping, farmers market and falconry display.