Malham is one of the most popular villages in the Yorkshire Dales. It's a pretty place, surrounded by limestone dry-stone walls. The village was founded in the period 670-800AD although in the surrounding fields and fells there are the remains of much older settlements dating as far back as 5000BC. Traces of Iron Age boundaries are still visible today. One hundred years ago, Malham was a place of mills and mines. Nowadays, hill farms and tourism are the main activities. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Malgun'.

The area around Malham is perhaps most famous as featuring some of the finest (and most spectacular) limestone scenery in the country. Many of the farms and cosy-looking cottages in the village are built of limestone with flagstone or slate roofs

Cottage and garden in Malham

Malham Tarn is a nature reserve area, owned by the National Trust. Nearby is Tarn House, where the Field Studies Council runs educational courses. A stream from Malham Tarn disappears into the ground through sink holes in the limestone, and reappears at Airehead Springs.


The village shop

The focus of the village is the green in front of the Lister's Arms - an old coaching inn with the date 1723 above the door.

Gordale Scar is a spectacular, awe-inspiring gorge, complete with waterfalls, cut right into the limestone hillside. The gorge was produced by water from melting glaciers sometime over the last three million years. Gordale Scar is one of the highlights and a must of any visit to Malham. "......the gloomy and uncomfortable day well suited the savage aspect of the place and made it still more formidable. I stay'd there (not without shuddering) a quarter of an hour and thought my trouble richly paid, for the impression will last a life." Thomas Grey 1796

The Lister's Arms

Malham Cove

Malham Cove is the showpiece of drama and the prime destination of all who come to visit Malham. The Cove is a huge curving amphitheatre shaped cliff formation of limestone rock. The vertical face of the cliff is about 260 feet high. The top of the Cove is a large area of deeply eroded limestone pavement, of a strange pattern rarely seen in England. William Wordsworth visited with his sister, Dorothy, in 1807 and was inspired to write of the place where 'giants scooped from out of the rocky ground...this semicirque profound'.

The imagination of the Victorian author, Charles Kingsley, suggested that the dark streaks on the face of the Cove were caused by a chimney sweep falling over the edge. This gave him the idea for his 'The Water Babies' (1863), an adventurous tale of Tom, the chimney sweep boy, who became one of the water babies. Their home lay in the mysterious pool at the foot of the Cove.

Janet's Foss is another tourist magnet. Foss is the old Norse word for a waterfall or force and Janet (or Jennet) was believed to be the Queen of the local fairies who lives behind the the fall in a cave. This pretty waterfall has a romantic setting, with its overhanging trees and nearby cave. The water is full of dissolved limestone and this has formed the delicate tufa curtain down which the stream flows.

Janet's Foss