Gordale Scar Campsite

UK England North East England North Yorkshire Malham

  • Good walks nearby
Rugged and raw camping in iconic English landscape

Wordsworth penned sonnets about it, James Ward painted an enormous canvas of it (now in Tate Britain). And now you can camp in it. Gordale Scar, that massive gaping wound on the skin of Yorkshire’s landscape, was hewn 100 metres deep through the limestone rock by successive torrents of glacial meltwater. It now stands as testament to the landscaping force of ice.

Sitting humbly at its mouth is Gordale Scar campsite. Out here it feels like you’re at the last outpost. The road ends a mile past the campsite and is little more than the farm’s driveway. Once you’ve pitched your tent, you’ll feel miniaturised in the face of the scar’s sheer cliffs. With the scar less than a quarter of a mile away and the pathway leading to its stone face, mere metres from your tent, it’s an ideal spot to rest weary bones after scrabbling up and down the rock, or simply to enjoy much vertical neck craning.

Though the rumble of the scar’s waterfalls are shielded from your ears by the headland, its waters run past the site in the form of Gordale Beck, which splits the site in two. A small flock of the farm’s sheep roam freely around the campsite, so watch underfoot for the slippery sheep poo. If you want to escape the daily dodgems, then cross the beck via the stepping stones: the sheep rarely venture over the stream and the water’s sounds have a soothing effect come night-time.

You’d be wise to pack your best guide ropes and industrial-strength tent pegs or at least some spares. The breeze can pick up and the narrows of the scar direct the full force of the wind this way, so unless you want your tent to resemble the gnarled and twisted trees on the scar’s cliffs, head for the shelter of some hedging or the walls.

The area’s a hotbed for climbers looking to conquer the scar and tackle nearby Malham Cove.You can find some satisfaction and a degree of awe by hunkering down and watching others tackling the strenuous verticals from the safety of your fold-out chair. If you do fancy a low-key scrabble of your own then you can clamber up past the tufa-covered rocks beside the falls.

You’re not limited to the scar for your entertainment. The Pennine Way, Malham Cove and the thin wispy waterfall of Janet’s Foss are a few miles away from the site, so it’s ideally placed to pick off some of Yorkshire’s icons. A sanctuary from the popularity of the scar can be found in nearby Malham Tarn, which offers a watery retreat and on a calm day mirrors the surrounding woodland and heath in its still waters.

The facilities at Gordale Scar are rudimentary and divide campers. You’ll find them in a charming, converted stone barn drenched in ivy; inside it all feels like it was built and last renovated in the Ice Age. It’s basic but adequate. However, campers don’t come here for the facilities, they come here for the uniquely beautiful Gordale Scar. Being able to camp so close to an English icon should be draw enough for you to stop by. Who knows, it might even inspire you to write your own sonnet.



These are basic but adequate. There’s a 10p charge for hot water from the site’s only shower. Fresh water, plus washing-up area.


Take to the skies on a charter from Pennine Helicopters (01457 820152), based in Saddleworth.

Food & Drink

Treat your stomach to locally grown organic food at Town End Farm Shop (01729 830902) in Airton, with grass-fed beef, lamb and local wines and local micro-brews. The amblers’ favourite is The Lister Arms (01729 830 330) in Malham, a 17th century coaching inn, with fairly decent fare and a selection of independent ales from home and abroad.


All year.


Gordale Scar Campsite, Gordale Farm, Malham, North Yorkshire BD23 4DL

Show Map

Getting There

From the A65 to Gargrave, take the road towards Malham. Follow signs for the tarn until the road forks, then follow the road to Gordale. The site’s 2 miles up on the left. From Skipton take the 210 bus to Malham Buck Inn. From there, go on foot, following signs to Malham Tarn and then at the fork heading towards Gordale. The site’s 2 miles up on the left.


Add Your Review

Rated ★★★★☆ over 15 reviews


Great Views - Horrendous Toilets

Unbelievable setting, a truly beautiful location, but I'm sorry to say that after several years of coming here I will not be returning. Always found the hording and stockpiling of rubbish both outside in the yard and washing up area amusing and unique, be it bordering on unhygienic. However found that this year it's reached a new low level. The one shower which is in the washing up area is now totally blocked by bags of rubbish, which together with many used brillo pads, grimy used washing up sponges, almost empty plastic drinks bottles dominates the surfaces and floor in the washing up area. The men's toilets have almost fully used toilet rolls piled up on the window ledge, discarded plastic bottles, and paper rubbish in overfilled bins on the floor under the wash basins which are unclean. I am not a fussy camper, having been camping for many years and preferring basic more natural sites, but the campsite is now a step too far. Very disappointing.
Oct 16, 2019 by Steve

DofE annual expedition stop-over

It may be basic, and have lots of 'stuff' stored in the farm-yard and in the wash-rooms, but we have returned year after year and still enjoy the wonderful setting, simplicity and quietness of the site every autumn.
Sep 23, 2019 by Elaine

Beautiful campsite

As the overall review says, this campsite really is beautiful. The descriptions about the basic facilities are very accurate but think festival camping- it really isnt necessary to have a shower every day! I've been coming for years and the water has never made me ill - that could just as easily come from badly cooked food at the campsite (or one of the local pubs)! I bring D of E groups to this campsite every year and it's a highlight of the trip. If the lack of facilities puts some people off- perfect! The fewer people there, the better...
Jun 27, 2018 by Linzibo

The views

The views are great, field, stream all great. This has got to be the most un-hygienic camp site on the planet. The two ladies toilets (no working showers) were the dirtiest I’ve ever seen. Rubbish stock piled everywhere, old bbq,s, bottles, empty food containers. The toilets were as black as the ace of spades, sinks filthy. After my one night stay I’ve contracted the most awful stomach upset. I didn’t use a hand sanitizer after using the facilities, despite washing my hands and if you use this toilet block sanitizer is a must!!! It’s cheap to stay but I wouldn’t go back if I was paid (any amount). We have stayed in many different sites, some with minimal facilities but they have all been clean. This is one place to avoid if you dont have the constitution of an ox!!!!
May 28, 2018 by Juliette

a real campsite

I've been going to this campsite for years. If you like to get away and really want to be in the depths of Yorkshire , this is the one for you. Malcolm , although set in his ways is always happy to help you . I found that he's part of what make that place special . He could quite easy listen to people but has refused to change with the times and unlike other campsites you really do go back in time. Summer is really summer here, with bbq's and bottles of beer placed in the stream, its heaven for adults and children "my kids loved it when they visited , they are all grown up now". As you wake up in the morning you are just surrounded by steep sides that seem to come right up to the door of your tent. You have two water falls,amasing walks that can swallow a whole day, wildlife. This campsite is so small that it forces you to socialise as you sit there and raise a beer to your fellow campers next pitch . Try it you'll love it . Well done Malcolm ??
Apr 18, 2017 by dslewis

Stunning views

The campsite has a stunning location with views from your tent of gordale scar that won't be beaten. The camping area is pristine however facilities are basic and useable but surrounded by rubbish left by campers. By the looks of it this has been sorted into types by the eccentric owners. Not unhygenic but perhaps not everyone's cup of tea.
Sep 17, 2016 by Mikej

amazing location but...

You won't find a better location than this: 5 stars. However I doubt that you'll visit a site with such dirty facilities: black hole. Basic isn't the same as unhygienic, piles of rubbish outside (glass, plastic, disposable barbeques), decaying food in wash up area, along with a mountain of left behind pan scrubs, tooth brushes and other assorted trash.
Aug 16, 2016 by johnmc

gordale scar

just spent two nights at gordale scar,pitched tent near the stream ,fell asleep both nights listening to it. Stunning views and peaceful site make up for the basic facilities,will definitely be back again this summer with my grandsons.

Jun 26, 2015 by allan thornton

Gordale Scar Campsite

This location is undoubtedly stunning. The grass area for pitching is in perfect condition, stream running through the site and you can choose where you want to go.

Facilities are basic, which I expected and can usually manage fine with. They are by the farm house with a gate separating from the field. The owner has a major problem with hoarding, and keeping rubbish though. If this didn't impact on us campers then fine, however the washroom and ladies toilets are also stored with hoarded items and is not clean. The washroom area also has food stored on the side of the work surfaces - I would actually be concerned about rats and general health and safety. The shower also looks very grim and did not use - it actually looks dangerous with electrics at risk of exposure to water.

Because of the facilities I would never stay here more than two nights - although with the location I would love to stay longer - 3 or 4 nights.

It's such a shame - the location deserves 5 stars but facilities deserve 1. Therefore I will average this as 3 stars.

Jun 17, 2015 by Laura2507

Idyllic location

The most beautiful setting with a steam running through and rocks for kids to play on. The facilities are basic and we didn't venture into the shower but so near to Mallham with fabulous walks I can't wait to go back again.

Sep 30, 2014 by Catherine123404

Breathtaking setting

I had a great time with my family at this beautiful and remote campsite. It cost only £13 for myself, two young ones, the dog, car and tent. The farmer/owner is very nice relaxed chap. The facilities are very basic and limited but that added to the excitement for my children who got a real experience of camping compared to better facilitated sites. The most important thing is the setting which is breath-taking and my children loved exploring the site and waterfall. Malham and Settle are near enough for supplies, pubs, cafes etc. We will definitely return simply on account of the scenery.

Aug 23, 2014 by JRobbo

Gordale Scar Campsite

Just camped on this site, the setting is stunning but I have to say the washroom and toilets were absolutely disgusting. Not ideal at all which is a shame as it had potential to be just perfect. For £14 for 2 adults, a car and tent it would have been nice to have a shower/toilet block that was clean and usable. 

Jun 2, 2013 by Ali brooks

Gordale Scar Campsite

Attempted to camp May bank holiday weekend 2013, but it was closed as apparently the owner hadn't been too well.. looked like a beautiful setting, but call ahead to check it's open as the only other local campsite was only accepting hikers so we ended up having to move on

May 21, 2013 by lozatronic

Gordale Scar Campsite

Two friends and I spent the bank holiday weekend camping at Gordale Scar and only one word can describe it - breathtaking. A two minute walk from the door of your tent and you are in Gordale Scar itself. It is truly stunning.

On the campsite itself, it was a little windy at times but otherwise fairly easy camping. The ground is reasonably even and soft and, if you camp on the far side of the stream from the farmhouse, there are no sheep to disturb you! Yes, as you will read in many reviews, the facilities are somewhat rudimentary but perfectly adequate. And, though there is only one shower, I did not once see a queue.

The closest village (Malham), about a mile down the road, is pleasant with a few tea shops and a couple of decent pubs - perfect for shelter if the weather isn't great.

In summary, a truly beautiful campsite and one I would definitely recommend.

Aug 30, 2011 by sbrockbank

Gordale Scar Campsite

For the hardy camper who wants natural beauty, fantastic scenery, and sheep munching grass next to you this site is perfect. Gordale Scar campsite is a bit rough and a bit basic but is set in an amazing location. The atmosphere is relaxed, and quiet (apart from the sheep). Nestled in the route to the scar itself the campsite makes the perfect base for hiking, whilst near by Malam provides hearty pub food.
Aug 13, 2010 by gmackman

Related Guides

See Campsites in Malham

See Campervan Hire in Yorkshire

See Campervan hire in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

See Camping near Manchester

See Campsites in Yorkshire

See Campsites in Yorkshire

See Campsites in the Yorkshire Dales

See Family-friendly campsites in Yorkshire

See Glamping in Yorkshire

See Glamping in the Yorkshire Dales

See Hawes Camping

Book campsites near Gordale Scar Campsite