Malham Tarn – a wheelchair accessible trek in the stunning limestone countryside thanks to the National Trust.
An all -terrain wheelchair (ATW) is available to borrow from the Malham Tarn Estate Office of the National Trust. There is the choice of three routes to follow, but my favourite is the 4.2 miles circular around Malham Tarn. Within minutes you have that splendid feeling of being away from it all – no cars, no traffic – just the sound of the water lapping against the limestone rocks.
Malham Tarn is a glacial lake and at 377 metres above sea level is the highest freshwater lake in England. The tarn was an inspiration for Charles Kingsley’s 1863 novel The Waterbabies.
The route passes by the bird hide that looks over the Tarn (wheelchair accessible), before making its way through the field study centre and around in front of Orchid House, a National Trust property which has been renovated as a meeting room and study classroom.
In 2016 around 100 water voles were reintroduced into the tarn. Ecologists believe Malham Tarn’s water voles were wiped out in the 1960s by mink, which escaped from fur farms nearby.
There are beautiful places on the shore of the tarn to stop and have a picnic or just relax to the sound of the lapping water. Otherwise it’s time to press on and follow a little of the Pennine Way.
Though the route does take you onto the road, it is a very quiet section of lane with little traffic.
Eventually you reach the gate that leads back towards the Estate Offices, passing through a most enchanting boulevard of trees.
The ATW is available to borrow from the National Trust from Monday to Friday 10am-2pm. Please ring 01729 830416 for details.
There are no facilities at the Malham Tarn Estate Office. There is parking for those using the ATW. For toilets, you will need to park in the National Trust car park in Malham and use their facilities.