The Weets and Malham Cove

We are heading back towards Malham Tarn for our walk today with plans to bag another Ordnance Survey trig pillar and possibly visit Malham Cove.  We usually avoid Malham at the weekends because it gets packed, but hopefully by the time we reach there the crowds will have thinned out.

Our starting point is a parking area at the southern end of the tarn (Grid Ref: SD894658).  We start by walking besides the road as it heads east.

When the tarmac lane sweeps to the right we continue straight on and go through a gate at Street Gate.  The route is now along a grassy track besides a dry stone wall.

The track descends towards Gordale Beck, many years ago we climbed up through the waterfall at Gordale Scar and have walked besides this beck further downstream many times but it is the first time we have seen it this far up stream.

At the beck we cross by the stone clapper bridge and then go through a gate to continue on the track.

We carry on along the track through docile cattle scattered in the field and then stop to read an information board. Apparently we are in the vicinity of the Mastiles Lane Roman marching camp.  Such camps were temporary structures created to provide protection for Roman soldiers on the move and involved digging a trench and erecting wooden stakes so the troops could sleep inside.  There appears to be no clear sign left of the structure, although it is marked on the OS Map. 

The track leads through the pasture field to reach a gate and then continues along a walled track.  We ignore a footpath on the right marked for Smearbottoms Lane and continue along the track for three quarters of a mile and then take a footpath on the right which heads through a gate and continues with a wall on our left.

After walking along the edge of a field we go through gates and continue on the walled track heading towards farm buildings.

After passing the farm the track becomes a single track tarmac lane, Smearbottoms Lane and we follow this until we reach a lane on the left which leads steadily uphill towards Weets Gate.

Near a gate the Medieval Weets Gate boundary stone stands on the right, it is protected by an assortment of gates that appear to have formed a temporary enclosure presumably for sheep.  The stone was restored in 1955 and marks the junction of Bordley, Hetton, Hanlith and Malham parishes.  The Historic England website suggests it may once have been a Medieval cross.

After going through a gate we turn to the left to visit The Weets Ordnance Survey Trig Pillar, number 274 bagged.

We head back to a finger post.  This is open access land but we want to be sure to take the right route.  We are initially following a path towards Calton and then at a junction of paths we veer to the right across Hanlith Moor.  When walking on moorland I am always conscious to get the map and compass out to ensure we are on the right route.  Today this moor looks docile but any moor that has clear way-markers deserves respect.

We are grateful for the markers, because even with them we go through a couple of boggy areas. Not anything to worry about after a dry spell in September, but this would be a different prospect in the depth of winter.  Following the markers we join the splendidly named Windy Pike Lane and follow this as it heads towards Hanlith.

The lane descends down the steep lane into the village and just as it sweeps to the left we take a footpath on the right way-marked the Pennine Way. The path heads across a field towards a gate with a farmhouse to our left.

We now follow the Pennine Way markers through a couple of fields into a field high above the River Aire.  The river flows out of Malham Tarn and then at Water Sink, high above Malham Cove, goes underground  and reappears below Malham at Aire Head.  By the time the river reaches the River Ouse at Airmyn it has travelled 92 miles from Malham Tarn.

We stop to take in the view, mainly because a herd of cows with calves are between us and the exit from the field.  They are not bothered by us whilst we stand still so we wait as they make their slow progress away from our route.  When the way is clear we continue, still on the route of the Pennine Way and drop down to cross the river and then follow a clear path into Malham.  

The village is still busy and to Lynnie’s delight the shop is open so she can sample some local ice cream.  We continue through the village passing the Lister Arms and then turn left on a lane following the route of the Pennine Way as it passes a Youth Hostel.

We now stick with the Pennine Way as it goes along the track and through fields to reach Malham Cove.

I have been coming to Malham Cove since I was a child , but it is a few years since we were last here and fortunately we have timed it well as there are very few people about latish in the day.  The Cove was created by a waterfall at the end of the Ice Age, more than 12,000 years ago. It is a rare occurrence for water to flow over these days, when it does it creates the highest single drop waterfall in England as the water drops 260 feet.  The last time water flowed over the cove was 15th December 2015 and the time before that is thought to have been in 1824.

We follow the route of the Pennine Way up steps to the left of the cove.  This is a steady climb but the views are rewarding.

At the top of the Cove we turn to the right and head across the limestone pavement, making sure we stay well away from the edge. My vertigo will not cope with being anywhere near a 260 feet drop.  The limestone pavement here is impressive and on the list for many tourists to the Dales.  There are a number of far better examples, particularly at Moughton Scar at the top of Crummack Dale, but this is probably the most accessible.

We continue across the limestone pavement, it is late in the afternoon and there are very few folk about so we stop frequently to enjoy the views.  Where the Pennine Way goes to the left we continue straight on across a field of pasture and then turn to the left to take a footpath into Trougate. 

It is a cracking evening and it feels like we have got this area of the Dales all to ourselves.  There are not many better places to be walking.

As we climb towards the summit of the hill we pass through a rocky outcrop and spot an owl seeking an early supper. It is far too quick and wary for me to photograph but it is a fantastic sight.

Our route now follows a clear path through rough pasture with stunning views towards Great Close Scar.

We go over the brow of a hill and can see the car park in front of us with Malham Tarn in the distance. 

It has been a cracking walk with some cracking views, our route has covered just over nine and a half miles. 

You can view this 9.5 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here

To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL2 – Yorkshire Dales – Western Area

25th September 2021

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)

All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it.  To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk.  It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.


  1. Thank you. It has been a fabulous walk down memory lane for me. The photos are phenomenal. I am unable to visit this wondrous part of the world now because I am disabled. It is marvellous that you have taken the time to do this for others. Spectacular.

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