A few miles west of Wharfedale lies Malhamdale, one of the National Park’s most heavily visited regions, thanks to its three outstanding natural features of Malham Cove, Malham Tarn and Gordale Scar. All three attractions are within easy hiking distance of Malham village.
MALHAM village is home to barely a couple of hundred people who inhabit the huddled stone houses on either side of a bubbling river. Appearing in spectacular fashion a mile to the north, the white-walled limestone amphitheatre of Malham Cove rises 300ft above its surroundings. After a breath-sapping haul to the top, you are rewarded with fine views and the famous limestone pavement, an expanse of clints (slabs) and grykes (clefts) created by water seeping through weaker lines in the limestone rock. A simple walk (or summer shuttle bus ride) over the moors abruptly brings Malham Tarn into sight, its waterfowl protected by a nature reserve on the west bank. Meanwhile, at Gordale Scar (also easily approached direct from Malham village), the cliffs are if anything more spectacular than at Malham Cove. The classic circuit takes in cove, tarn and scar in a clockwise walk from Malham (8 miles; 3hr 30min), but you can also do it on horseback – the Yorkshire Dales Trekking Centre at Holme Farm in the village centre is the place to enquire about saddling up.