Malham Cove is a dramatic cliff made of limestone rock. This is one of the locations where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed. You might remember the scene where Harry Potter was camping on the limestone pavement just on the top of the cove. This beautiful cliff formation is slightly curved and from the top offers incredible views of the Malham dale.
It's the perfect day out whether you are a Harry Potter fan, or just want to enjoy a fantastic walk in nature, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We're locals, so we can tell you all you need to know about the perfect day out to Malham Cove. Grab a cup of tea, and let's get planning.
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Getting to Malham Cove
Malham Cove is located in the Yorkshire Dales national park. It's only an hour from Manchester, an hour from The Lake District and one hour from Harrogate, where we live. Half the journey, you will drive on single carriageways, with a limit of 60mph. The second half of the journey will take you on countryside narrow roads, where you need to be careful and always slow down if you see an oncoming vehicle.
The best way to get used to these roads is to practice. Eventually, you will get the hang of it and feel a lot more confident on British countryside roads. When you arrive at Malham, the village, you can stop there and park at the visitor car park or continue driving for another 10 minutes, towards the Malham Tarn car park.
For the best walking trail and best views, we absolutely recommend that you continue driving. However, the roads are very narrow and quite steep. You need to be a confident driver on these roads.
Where to park at Malham Cove
You have two options for your journey to Malham Cove, the Malham village or the Malham Tarn. Let me explain a little about each of them so you can confidently make a decision best for you and your family.
Malham village visitors park is best if you want an easy walk. This is best suited for families with small children who don't want to climb up the cove. You will see the impressive cliff formation from below. This is also ideal for those who don't suffer from vertigo.
Malham Tarn is the best car park if you want to see where Harry Potter was filmed. It's also a more intense hike in the easy-moderate category. You will need very good footwear here as you will descent and ascend on some relatively slippery rocks. You will walk on the limestone pavement which appeared in the Harry Potter movies and admire stunning vistas from the top of the cliff.
Hiking to Malham Cove
As previously mentioned you have two options for Malham Cove. An easy trail that starts from the village, or a moderate trail that starts from the Malham Tarn. I'm going to describe both of them to help you decide which one it's best suited to your circumstances and fitness level.
Malham Village to Malham Cove
This Malham Cove walk starts in Malham Village and goes directly to Malham Cove via a well defined, easy and accessible path. The walk will reveal many beautiful countryside cottages with flowers, and lovely gardens. You will pass a couple of pubs too if you want to grab a pint and something to eat.
This hike is very easy with just 2.2 miles return. It will take you around 20-25 minutes to get to the Cove. You may decide to stop here and just stay at the base of the cove. But if you are able, we do recommend hiking for another 10 minutes or so to the top of the cove, for stunning views. The path to the top is well defined but you will need good hiking shoes. Be careful on a rainy day, as you find it more slippery. The top of the Malham cove is also well known as a filming location for the Harry Potter movies. You and your kids will be most excited to be in the same place as Harry and Hermione.
Once at the top, you can walk on the limestone pavement. The crevices are deep, and some of the rocks move. Be careful not to step in-between the rocks or to not drop your phone in there. Once you are done and have taken pictures, you can simply retrace your steps back the same way.
Malham Tarn to Malham Cove
This Malham Cove hike starts at the Malham Tarn car park, called Watersinks Car Park. This car park is free of charge but it can get fairly busy during the weekend. The hike to Malham Cove is 45 minutes, around 2.5 miles one way. As you start your walk, you will pass a few sheep and grazing cows. They are harmless but do keep your dog on a short lead as these animals get easily scared.
About 10 minutes into a walk, you will have two small hills on each side. Stop and take a moment to appreciate the deep silence all around you. It was incredible to not hear anything but the sound of my own heartbeat. It's a great place for a picnic as well.
Continue your walk and you will soon pass some small crags. Eventually, you will need to descend towards Malham Cove. The descend is on a narrow path made entirely from uneven rocks. You will need to be careful and wear very good hiking boots. On a rainy day these rocks will be quite slippery so please take extra care. While on the trail, we've seen families with children as well as dogs, but it was clear that everyone took it slow and easy.
The descend takes just 5-10 minutes, and then you will be on flat land again. Walk for another mile and you'll be on the limestone pavement, on the top of Malham Cove. Here, you will admire incredible vistas and see as far as Malham village.
You can take another 10 minutes to descend to the base of the cove, or just stay up and relax. As previously mentioned, the crevices on the limestone path are fairly deep, so make sure you are extra careful. It goes without saying that on a windy day you shouldn't get too close to the edge of the cliff.
Enjoy Malham Cove from above and see how gorgeous England looks from the top of the cliff. The English countryside is amazing. We got lucky and saw the cove on a beautiful, sunny day. Harry Poter however, was clearly filmed on a moody day, which makes the limestone pavement look surreal and eerie.
Malham Cove Harry Potter
Malham Cove was one of the filming locations in the 7th movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. After Harry and Hermione split from Ron, the duo appear on a cliff and set up their camping tent there. The location is also when Harry talks to Hermione about the snitch and what "I open at the close" means. The location looks incredible, with massive stones, and can be seen on a moody twilight.
If you want to be in the exact same location as Harry and Hermione, make sure to follow one of the trails from above and get to the top of Malham Cove, on the limestone pavement.
Tips for your visit to Malham Cove
It's very important that you wear good hiking shoes for your walk to Malham Cove if you plan on going to the limestone pavement. The massive rocks do move and some have deep crevices between them. Just be careful where you step and pay attention. As I mentioned before, the rocks can get slippery, so do take extra care on a rainy day.
We visited on a sunny day with no wind. If it gets windy, it gets more dangerous to be closer to the edge of the cliff. Keep that in mind, especially if you visit with your kids.
If you plan on taking the Malham Tarn to Malham Cove route, then we recommend bringing some food with you. There are no shops or pubs along the way. However, a couple of snacks and some water will be awesome for a small picnic. Alternatively, you can make your way into Malham village and sit down for a nice pub meal.
As a driver myself, I do recommend that you drive very carefully when getting to the Malham village and the Malham Tarn. The roads are winding and large farm vehicles operate on these roads. From Malham village to the Tarn, the roads are very narrow, steep and it gets more difficult for two vehicles to fit. So be patient and extra careful. These are not roads for speedy drivers and are not ideal for new drivers either. You should feel confident and comfortable behind the steering wheel. If you plan on renting a car, we recommend renting an automatic. I promise, your life will be so much easier and you get to actually enjoy your driving.
What to wear
Layers are your friends! You probably already know that the English weather is quite capricious. Bring some sunscreen with you and a wind shell. Always nice to be prepared. But the most important, as previously mentioned is your shoes. Any pair of hiking shoes will work, but don't hike up the Cove in sandals, even if it's summer. Comfortable footwear that doesn't have slippery soles.
For any English trail, I usually wear a pair of fitness leggings or yoga pants, a t-shirt, a light sweater and I bring my wind shell. I have the best walking shoes from Columbia which I recommend with love.
Of course, bring your camera or smartphone with you as you will love the pictures you can take at the Malham Cove.
Extra time? Go to Malham Tarn
Do you have a bit of extra time? Then we recommend doing the loop trail to Malham Tarn as well. Malham Tarn is looked after by the National Trust.
Malham Tarn is an area of outstanding moorland uplands, with lower-rich hay meadows, varied birdlife and awe-inspiring vistas.
Join the Pennine Way and head northwards towards Malham Tarn. The Pennine Way continues to the overflow of Malham Tarn before joining the track to Tarn House. Continue along the track with Great Close Scar on your right. It's a beautiful place with a glacier lake. This lake is protected and currently, no water sports or swimming are allowed here. The lake is one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe, having a pH between 8.0 and 8.6. The lake is 4.4 metres (14 ft) at its deepest, with an average depth of 2.4 metres (7.9 ft).
Where to stay
We have found a variety of incredible places for you to stay during your visit to Malham Cove. We recommend at least one night here, as there are plenty of walks and trails you can do. Besides, if you travel with your family, it's nice to take it easy and have a long weekend to get to enjoy everything that Malham and the surroundings have to offer.
You are now ready to enjoy your trip to Malham Cove and you know exactly how to get there, where to park and which trail is best for you and your family. Don't forget to take amazing pictures on the limestone pavement and share them with other Harry Potter fans. Wear comfortable warm clothes and good shoes and bring your good mood for this epic walk in the English countryside. Have fun and we wish you safe travels in the Yorkshire Dales National Park!