I bet you’ve heard of Malham cove but have you heard of Malham tarn? This Malham tarn walk is so much quieter than Malham cove walks. We did both in the same weekend and the tarn is so much quieter and is still a lovely short family walk. Find loads of family walks here.
Where is Malham Tarn?
Malham tarn is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a glacial lake near Malham village. You can get to it from the top of Malham cove as part of a much longer walk but for families, there are plenty of short walks nearby.
Malham is known for some of the best limestone scenery and it’s not hard to see why it is such a popular area. Malham Tarn is much quieter but it is still a very special place to explore.
Where to park for this Malham Tarn walk
This walk starts in Water sinks car park. There are no facilities, only an ice cream van on our visit but I can’t guarantee that it will be there on your visit. The car park is free and there is plenty of on-road parking too.
Start and finish – Water sinks car park
Approximate duration –
Distance – 3.5 miles
Accessibility – This is a fairly flat walk, with uneven ground in places. This walk is suitable for pushchairs.
Public toilets – There are no public toilets on this walk
Other Facilities – none
This walk is great for families including those taking a pushchair. An off-road one definitely makes it easy but I’m sure most pushchairs would manage this walk.
There is a map of the 2 possible walks in the car park. We chose the easy walk. There is moderate walk which is a circuit of malham tarn. This circular walk is at 4.5 miles with significant parts of the walk being along roads so with young children we chose the alternative route.
This walk is possible with an off-road walking buggy but if you can manage with a baby or toddler carrier, it will be easier.
Start with the car park behind you and the road on your left. Cross the fields towards the tarn along the grassy path which is part of the Pennine way.
You’ll soon reach the shores of Malham Tarn. Keep the tarn on your left and follow the grassy track around the tarn.
Pass through the wooden gate which is signposted Malham tarn estate on the stone wall and continue following the obvious path around the tarn. At this point, the path will become a gravel track. You’ll also be able to see the sheer walls of rock that the Malham tarn area is known for.
You’ll reach another gate, this time with a cattle grid and with a footpath marker for the Pennine way. There is a smaller gate to the side without a cattle grid to cross.
Go through the gate and continue to follow the path. The path will start to go uphill at this point, through woodlands with the tarn still on your left.
Follow the path until you reach Malham Tarn house. You can get a great view of the tarn from here. The path continues around the back of Tarn house by Orchid house where you’ll see a large spider sculpture on top of the building in the corner of the walls and lots of information boards about the buildings.
The path then goes a short distance, around the buildings and back to the tarn. Then you are walking down a narrow road (access for tarn house) which starts to go more downhill. Part way down there are steps on your left to a viewing area with a bench and picnic area. You’ll also spot a wooden rabbit sculpture on the wall here and this is the start of a trail with a few of these beautifully carved animal sculptures. We spotted a rabbit, a fish, a heron, an owl and an eagle.
Just after the eagle (on your right) is a gate on the left. This is the exit from the Malham Tarn moss boardwalk. The boardwalk is narrow so it makes sense that it is one-way.
To find the entrance, keep following the track past the cottages until you get to a fork in the road.
Take the track to the left which is signposted with a National Trust poster that states the boardwalk is 400m this way.
Access to the boardwalk is on your left, through a gate. The boardwalk is an easy circular route and such a beautiful place to walk.
Once on the boardwalk, there is only one path to follow most of the time. Where there are options, there will be a National Trust sign advising if it is one way.
After the bridge, the boardwalk splits in two. We decided to bear right (which brought us back to the eagle sculpture). You will weave through beautiful woodland here back to the main track. boards can be slippy in wet weather
The boardwalk is approximately a mile walk and the area is rich with wildlife. We were lucky enough to see a Lizard run off the path in front of us but we didn’t see the Exmoor ponies.
Once you exit the boardwalk through the gate, you turn right and retrace your steps back past the tarn house around the train to the car park.
More Yorkshire dales walks
Find loads more Yorkshire Dales walks including full route details of the beautiful waterfalls of Janet’s foss walk and many more in North Yorkshire here – Kids Walks in the Yorkshire Dales
The Himalayan gardens and sculpture park is not far away and is well worth a visit.
One of my favourite National Trusts is Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens. Well worth a visit.
If you want to cross over the boarder into the North West, I can recommend this walk – Kirkby Stephen Riverside walk.
Join the Family walks North West Facebook group to be part of a community sharing the best walks for families across the region. Click here.
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Where to next?
Don’t forget to pack your Nature walk scavenger hunt free printable. Perfect for keeping kids happy on a walk.
Find loads of things to do on a walk with kids here.