Malham Tarn

View on map  

Find a trail - visit the official visitor site for Yorkshire

Opening Times:

All year round



Venue contact details:


Malham Tarn

In 1816 Turner had been commissioned to make 120 watercolours of the principal subjects in Yorkshire.  He began his tour of the higher dales in late July and arrived at the inn in Malham on the evening of 24 July, where he stayed with his friends, the Fawkes family. 

Turner's 1816 sketches of the Malham area illustrate 'rural fare' noting pigs and poultry grazing by the beckside in Malham village (Malham Village with Cove Beyond, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 165a). He also sketched at nearby Janet's Foss and Gordale Scar.

He didn't reach Malham Tarn until the following day, having said his farewells to the Fawkes and now riding alone over the moors towards Littondale and Wharfedale.  In heavy rain, which Turner found more appealing than repellent, he sketched Malham Tarn, the highest glacial lake in England.

Dogs acceptedNational Trust

Turner's Viewpoint

Upon reaching Malham Tarn, Turner made a number of panoramic sketches looking over the lake to Tarn House, a shooting lodge of Lord Ribblesdale, with High Folds Scar behind and Great Close to the right ((i) Tarn House; (ii) Malham Tarn and Tarn House from near Tarn Foot, (iii) Malham Tarn from the West; (iv) Limestone Valley Probably between Malham Town and Kettlewell, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg numbers: CXLV 159 and 158a) .

Turner's view over the Tarn can be easily reached from the car park at the south end of Malham Tarn.

Discover The Landscape


Water in Turner's Yorkshire

Download our themed leaflet and let the rivers and waterfalls guide you around Turner's Yorkshire as water literally flows through many of his sketches and paintings.



Turner's paintings and sketches around Malham are interpreted through four geocaches hidden in secret locations near his viewpoints, including Malham Tarn. Geocaching is a form of treasure hunting using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and Ordnance Survey maps to locate carefully concealed caches. Find out all about it here.

The Venue


Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve, near Malham, North Yorkshire, BD24 9PS

Map reference: SD895662

View on map
Directions to Malham Tarn:

Turn off the A65 at Gargrave and continue through the villages of Airton and Kirkby Malham to Malham. Follow the minor road above Malham to reach the Tarn, where a car park is available.

From Easter to October a shuttle bus operates at weekends and bank holidays up to Malham Tarn. It has a satellite-triggered audio tour on board and carries several bikes. It travels between Ilkley, Addingham, Skipton bus station and railway station, Settle and Malham Tarn.