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Malham Tarn at Sunrise Copyright Dan Cook

Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve

Location: The source of the River Aire, near Malham

Grid Reference: SD 894658

Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve (NNR) is part of the Malham Tarn Estate which is owned and managed by the National Trust in partnership with their tenant farmers. The NNR is also designated as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and it is a wetland of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention. The reserve consists of 147 hectares and is one of the best places to see a natural lime-rich lake (the tarn), raised bog, fen, willow carr and purple moor-grass and rush pasture in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The tarn is said to be the highest limestone lake in Britain at 380 metres above sea level and is rich in submerged aquatic plants. It is also home to six fish species, white-clawed crayfish, and bird life including the great crested grebe, moorhen, coot, tufted duck and teal. The adjacent raised bog on Tarn Moss includes plant species such as wild cranberry, bog rosemary, crowberry, round-leaved sundew and bog asphodel. The fen has a whole host of species to see including bogbean, ragged robin and many rare sedges, mosses and insects. The willow carr includes dark-leaved willow, and the purple moor-grass and rush pasture includes species such as cross-leaved heath and devil’s-bit scabious. In addition, breeding wading birds such as snipe, redshank, curlew, lapwing and oystercatcher use this mosaic of habitats.

Part of the nature reserve is an Open Access area. There is a boardwalk around the fen (no dogs here, please). The Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre is also within the reserve.