MALHAM is one of the most popular villages in the Yorkshire Dales.

However it is easy to avoid the crowds which head up to Malham Cove by heading in the opposite direction and climbing Weets Top, a lonely vantage point perched impressively overlooking the Gordale.

From the car park at Malham, head towards the village, but before arriving at the road bridge, take the narrow stone bridge over the river and turn right on to the Pennine Way.

Head south for 400m to a gate and junction of paths. To the left the popular route leads to Janet’s Foss, the path improved for much of the way (but not all) to make it more accessible. However ignore the turning and continue south next (but not alongside) the riverside path.

The path climbs a little from the river but is well signed. Three quarters of a mile from the junction a road is met in the hamlet of Hanlith, best known for the impressive Hanlith Hall. Turn left at the road (right is to the hall and river) and climb through a farmyard and in to the lane beyond. This is Windy Pike Lane and is an excellent place to study the topography of the better known sites of Malham to your left.

Malham Cove is particularly well seen but so is Gordale Scar and the higher lands beyond. The lane is nearly flat and continues for three quarters of a mile to a gate and on to the open moorland. The path from here climbs steadily, can be a little muddy after rains, but is easy. The route is shown by some white marker posts. Just short of a mile from the gate the path crosses a boundary and immediately meets a path junction. This is the Dales Highway (the upland sister to the Dalesway).

Turn left and follow the track for 200m to the summit of Weets Top, the trig point is a few metres to the right. It is a good place, the summit well sheltered by a wall in windy conditions. Looking over the wall is the popular Malham walks, look to the south and the lonely moors continue all the way to Winterburn Reservoir.

From the summit go through the gate and immediately to your left is Weets Cross (1.5m tall), a medieval boundary stone marking the territory of Fountain’s Abbey. Continue south along the lane, turn left and before long meet a road. This is a dead end road so the only traffic you will meet is a farm tractor.

Turn left and follow the road downhill. The views are excellent towards Malham, with traditional Dales scenery, dry stone walls, seep and exposed limestone rock. At the foot of the hill is the entrance to Gordale Scar on your right, for those who have never been it is a must (1 mile detour). For those who have continue for another 100m and take the path to your left and drop down to the lovely Janet’s Foss (waterfall). The path carries on through woodland before breaking out in to open fields. From here soon rejoin the outbound route and back to the village of Malham.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 6.5 miles.

Height climbed: 250m (820 feet).

Start: SD 900627. There is a large National Park car park.

Difficulty: Medium. The climb to Weets Hill is steady, not steep. The route is a mix of paths, lanes and quiet roads.

Refreshments: Malham has a choice of pubs and cafes.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston, near Settle (Choice of two. Beginners or ‘Mountain Skills’) First Available Date is April 1. also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.