Malham Cove (SW #47) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

1.3
FIETS
2 mi
DISTANCE
675 ft
GAINED
6.5 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

The Malham Cove road bike climb is Simon Warren's #47 of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs (Great Britain) and it is very special. Malham Cove was described by Thomas West in 1779 as a beautiful rock "like the age-tinted wall of a prodigious castle; the stone is very white, and from the ledges hang various shrubs and vegetables, which with the tints given it by the bog water. & c. gives it a variety that I never before saw so pleasing in a plain rock." The route has been travelled by Harry and Hermione in Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows. 

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Malham Cove - rolling green hills leading to large limestone rock wall, cloudy blue sky above; Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs #47 logo in corner

Cycling Malham Cove, North Yorkshire, England.

“All was well.” ― Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  This is a great tourist attraction for good reason -- spectacular and breathtaking are the adjectives best describing this place!  The site for several television and movie productions, this one warrants “Bucket List” status.  

Cycling Malham Cove - pasturelands with limestone rock wall, National Trust sign for Malham Tarn Estate, street sign for Malham Cove, Stainforth, Barncliffe, bike parked in grass along side of road, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Malham Cove is a popular tourist area within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and consists of a large limestone formation formed by “a waterfall carrying meltwater from glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago” (Malham Cove).

Cycling Malham Cove - various views of the limestone rock wall at the Malham Cove Estate National Trust sight, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

The hiking trail (no bikes allowed) to Malham Cove begins 600 meters from the start of our climb and at the north edge of the village of Malham.  

Cycling Malham Cove - National Trust sign for Malham Tarn Estate, in background are sprawling green hills

Start of hiking trail, 600 m from cycling climb start.

We encountered waves of hikers on this one but no cyclists on our 3.2 km climb.  We suggest staying in Malham for the day and climbing the three km road bike route, hiking the half km to Malham Cove, and enjoying the day in and around the area.  To help plan your stay in the area, check out this list of top 10 things to do in Malham.

Cycling Malham Cove - 14% grade road sign warning "Single track road with passing places), various views of one-lane road along the climb uphill, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Views along the climb.

The climb itself starts out modestly for the first 600 meters then pitches up dramatically for 1.3 km at 11.6% (steepest km along that segment is 13.9%).

Cycling Malham Cove - 14% grade road sign warning "Single track road with passing places", along one-lane road with low rock fence along side

Precisely -- 13.9% for a ½ km segment beginning at 1.1 km.

 

Steepest ½ kilometer begins at kilometer 1.1 (13.9%).

Malham Cove is a special place.  Noted priest and antiquary Thomas West said in 1779 of the cove, “This beautiful rock is like the age-tinted wall of a prodigious castle; the stone is very white, and from the ledges hang various shrubs and vegetables, which with the tints given by the bog water...gives it a variety that i never before saw so pleasing in a plain rock.”  

In addition to hiking and biking, Malham Cove is a popular location for climbers.  Many of the cove’s climbing routes can even be done in the rain (which is good for England!) (Malham Cove).

Cycling Malham Cove - stone building with sign "National Park Center", green grass, large green trees behind building, blue sky with large white clouds

Park Visitor Center

In Malham, just before the start of the climb.

Some of Malham Cove’s many media appearances include:

  • The cove, along with nearby Gordale Scar, was featured in an episode of the BBC TV series Seven Natural Wonders as one of the natural wonders of Yorkshire.
  • The Pavement was used as a shooting location for the 1992 film version of "Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights"
  • The cove was also featured in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) as one of the places Hermione and Harry travel to. The scenes were filmed in November 2009.
  • The limestone pavement and general location of Malham featured in an episode of The Trip starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon which aired on BBC2 on 29 November 2010.
  • The cove is the bridgehead of an alien invasion in Charles Stross’ 2016 novel The Nightmare Stacks (Malham Cove).

 This climb is one of many in Yorkshire Dales National Park (217,800 hectares / 538,195 acres), established in 1954:

“The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a 2,178 km2 (841 sq mi) national park in England covering most of the Yorkshire Dales. The majority of the park is in North Yorkshire, with a sizeable area in Cumbria and a small part in Lancashire. The park was designated in 1954, and was extended in 2016. Over 20,000 residents live and work in the park, which attracts over eight million visitors every year.  The park is 50 miles (80 km) north-east of Manchester; Leeds and Bradford lie to the south, while Kendal is to the west, Darlington to the north-east and Harrogate to the south-east. The national park does not include all of the Yorkshire Dales. Parts of the dales to the south and east of the national park are located in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” (Yorkshire Dales National Park). 

Climbing Cyclist:

“Malham Cove is a beautiful part of the Yorkshire Dales and offers a testing climb for road cyclists. There is a great view on the way up, though you will be concentrating on the effort of getting up the long 12-18% climb. Although the average gradient for the 2 mile climb is 6%, the steepest section is 12% for about 0.4 miles.

I’ve ridden Malham Cove, though usually after quite a few other hills and miles to get to the foot of the base. The most common way to reach it is turning north from the A65 in Gargrave. This takes you up a nice valley road through Airton. As you approach the village of Malham, there are two ways to climb to the top. The right hander takes you to the east of the cove, the Western approach probably makes for the better climb. But, both approaches reach the same height by Malham Tarn.”