Walking in the Yorkshire Dales

Walk 2:
Fountains Fell and Malham Tarn

Route overview:

  • Eurospeleo (140m)
  • Austwick
  • Helwith Bridge (by road)
  • Dale Head/Rainscar
  • Tennant Gill
  • Malham Tarn
  • Malham Cove (top)
  • Langcliffe
  • Stackhouse
  • Feizor
  • Austwick
  • Eurospeleo

This is a very long walk, but which avoids all the major peaks (and has only one uphill section at Fountains Fell). The route involves some excellent remote fells to reach the famous Malham Tarn. A short detour via the top of Malham Cove (a huge limestone gorge) then provides a fine viewpoint and a good spot for a late lunch. Finally a gentle return across the fells reaches the villages of Langcliffe then Feizor and finally Austwick before returning to Eurospeleo.

Approximate time: 11 hrs

Approximate distance: 41 km

Difficulty: 4½ / 5

Navigation Overview:
From Eurospeleo cross over the main road and into Austwick. Follow the road all the way to Helwith Bridge. After the pub at Helwith Bridge, you will reach a junction with the main road. Turn left and after 100m the main footpath up Penyghent (Long Lane) is on the right.

Follow this footpath gently uphill towards Penyghent for 3km until a path on the right is reached signed to Dale Head and/or Rainscar. Follow this path for about 1km to reach a road at Dale Head. Turn left and follow the road for about 1.5km, past Rainscar House, to reach a crossroads with the Pennine Way footpath. Turn right onto the Pennine Way and follow this path uphill along the wall.

The path soon turns away from the wall and becomes steeper, ascending to the highest points on the walk at the top of Fountains Fell.

From the summit of Fountains Fell, follow the Pennine Way for approximately 3.5km across the fells to Tennant Gill. Just past the farm, a road is reached. Continue on the Pennine Way which follows parallel to this road towards Malham Tarn (a beautiful large lake).

Follow the Pennine Way clockwise around Malham Tarn, across the road to the South of the Tarn and continue south for about 1.7km via Comb Hill to Malham Cove, a spectacular limestone gorge and one of the area’s most famous attractions. The view from the top is fantastic! If you are feeling very adventurous, a descent to the village of Malham and back will be rewarded with a pub (this will add approximately 2km to the stated distance).

From the top of Malham Cove, return north-west for 1km back to the junction at Comb Hill. Follow the Pennine Bridleway footpath west via Gorbeck for 8km towards the village of Langcliffe. About 1km before the village, the path joins the road. Follow the road downhill into Langcliffe village.

From Langcliffe your next destination is Stackhouse, 1km to the north-west. You must cross the railway line and the main road. The best route is to continue through Langcliffe to reach the junction with the main road. Go south (left) for 100m to a footpath on the right leading to a footbridge over the railway. This follows around a mill and reservoir and to a footbridge across the river leading into Stackhouse.

From Stackhouse, take the Pennine Journey footpath leading north-west for just over 3km to the village of Feizor. Continue the footpath west out of Feizor and onto Austwick, and then back to Eurospeleo, to complete this very long and satisfying walk.