Malham Tarn

Route Information

Stats: 10.3 miles

OS map:


Apart the tea van and ice cream that often parks up nearby, there are fantastic facilities within Malham itself. Numerous tea shops, inns and a good little store, as well as the National Parks visitor centre. Car parking is ample at the roughly surfaced car park adjacent to the Tarn road. Nearby is Settle as well, with even more facilities. Yes, Settle. If you head across towards Langcliffe, it’s a short but beautiful ride down to Langcliffe and in to Settle. It cuts out a long road route that most people would think of, and is probably one of the most scenic roads in the Dales.


If you’re looking for a great short ride for kids and families in the Yorkshire Dales, between 10 and 25 km, then this is the one. It’s not too steep, but has enough fun sections to keep them happy downhill, but to ensure they won’t go too fast. For an introduction mtb ride for kids this is it. Good surfaces, great views, and an ice cream to finish. The route is rideable at all times of the year, but wrap up warm in winter. The photo below shows the approach to the tarn with snow in the dips. However, the views made up for the cold.


1. Turn left out of the car park and along the road for a short distance. At the first cross roads, the left hand junction is a track which takes you to the edge of the Tarn.

2. Follow this track, through a gate and around the Tarn, before heading into trees, and a short climb to the Malham Tarn Field Centre. Go around the centre and downhill, passing National Trust cottages before joining a ‘T’ junction.

3. Turn right along the lane, heading towards Arncliffe for about a mile. At a shoulder in the road, the Pennine Way crosses the lane, marked by a good sign post and continues along a good farm track ahead and to your left (ignore this!). Take the other bridleway, directly opposite the sign post, through the field gate and across Malham Moor.

4. Go diagonally across the field to a gap in the wall, and continue along the faint path across beautiful limestone countryside as you climb Malham Moor. Once the halfway point of the ride is reached the gradient becomes friendlier for the kids and begins a rolling descent, all the way to tarmac at Henside Road.

5. Turn left at the road and cycle along to the road junction to the left (signed Arncliffe. Go left and along this lane until a fork ahead, with the right hand fork being a gated track. Take this gated track, which leads back to the route around the Tarn.

6. At the next track junction turn right and back around the Tarn. As you descend and come out of the trees, a short distance (200yards) on, a track to the left should be taken. This is lightly rougher and be avoided by simply continuing back to the car. However, it is worth the detour.

7. Follow this track which loops around a scar, to a small copse on the right and track junction. Turn right and along towards ‘Street Gate’, the start of Mastilles Lane.

8. At Street Gate, turn right again and along the road back to the car.
Pack up the bikes and go and get the kids an ice cream. If they won’t share, get them one each.

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