Mallyan Spout – A walk along an old railway and a visit to a waterfall

Goathland used to be an isolated farming village, then the railway arrived in 1836. With the railway came people looking to enjoy the countryside around the village. They also came to visit its famous landmark, Mallyan Spout Waterfall.

The circular walk described here is about 5km long on good paths, possibly muddy in places, especially the woodland walk to Mallyan and return path to Goathland. Mallyan Spout Waterfall is reached on a small detour alongside the river. This is a scramble over boulders and rocks and can be very slippy in places. Certainly, it is challenging especially after heavy rain (ironically the best time to see it), please be careful. Sturdy walking boots are recommended.

The Early Railway Line, Goathland Incline

This short walk to Mallyan Spout starts from Goathland on a straight path that follows the line of the first railway that brought tourists to the village. The early railway wasn’t pulled by locomotives but by horses. However, the 1-in-10 gradient up to Goathland was too steep for the horses to pull the carriages.

The solution designed by George Stephenson was to uncouple the horses at the foot of the hill and attach the carriages to a thick hemp rope (later a cable), This was threaded around a pulley at the top of the hill and attached to a wagon containing water tanks. The tanks were filled with water so that the weight of the descending wagon would pull the carriages up the incline. The ascent was not only slow but dangerous as well. The water tanks were later replaced by a stationary steam engine. Sadly there was a disaster in 1864 when the cable snapped and the carriages hurtled down the incline. The carriages overturned at Beck Hole killing two people and injuring 13 others.

The incline was abandoned shortly afterwards in favour of a more level route (The Deviation Line). This is the route used by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway today.

Some evidence of the old railway still exists. The masonry pieces at the top of the hill are the remains of the old station. Incline cottage at the bottom of the hill is a former railway workers house.

Mallyan Spout

Mallyan Spout Waterfall helped to put Goathland on the map as a tourist village. The 20m high waterfall is located in a picture-perfect wooded ravine carved out by the West Beck. The water that cascades down the waterfall wells up from springs in the moors above Goathland, although, if it’s been dry it can be just a trickle! It finds the easiest route downhill until it meets the New Wath Scar. The Waterfall is the highest in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

Over thousands of years, the flowing water of the West Beck has eroded this ravine through the sandstone rocks. At Mallyan Spout the sides of the ravine are 20m high and almost vertical. Water flowing from the moors tumbles over the edge creating a waterfall for us to enjoy. The Waterfall flows over a curtain of very green moss and vegetation which acts as a canvas for the water. It’s possible to go right up to the waterfall and stare upwards at the tumbling water if you don’t mind getting a bit wet!

The stream has some pools which I presume are good for wild swimming. I cannot vouch for this personally but I’ve seen people swimming in them.

Directions to Goathland

By road, there are two roads to Goathland off the A169 between Pickering and Whitby. In the village, there are two car parks, a private car park opposite the parade of shops and a North Yorkshire Moors Car Park nearby. I’ve described the walk from the NY Moors car park.

You can also get to Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway or on the Coastliner Leeds to Whitby Bus service. Both car parks are a short walk from the Railway Station and an even shorter walk from the bus stop.

Goathland was popularised by being in the Heartbeat TV series, it was cast as the fiction village Aidensfield. The railway station was Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.

Mallyan Spout Circular Walk

The Ordnance Survey map OL27, the North Yorkshire Moors – Eastern area covers this part of the moors. With this map you also get a code for use on your tablet, iOS or Android smartphone. Landranger maps are available in both the standard paper version and weatherproof ‘Active’ version.

From the North Yorkshire Moors car park turn left onto the road and walk past the public toilets until you reach a kissing gate on the left. Go through the gate where there is a Rail Trail information board and follow the track to another road and gate. Cross the road and continue downwards on the track to reach Incline Cottage.

If you want a detour to the idyllic hamlet of Beck Hole and its pub turn right and follow the signs. The Birch Hall Inn is one of Yorkshire’s smallest pubs and it serves food.

At Incline Cottage there is a fingerpost pointing left “To Mallyan”. This is a woodland walk that eventually brings you to Mallyan Spout. The path has a couple of quite steep ascents and descents before the path becomes a walk on duckboards. A little way along the duckboard section there’s another sign saying “Mallyan Spout” 130m. This is only a short distance but requires scrambling over some very slippy rocks and boulders to reach the waterfall.

Just before you get to the waterfall there are a couple of large logs with coins hammered into them. I found a similar log near Falling Foss waterfall, also on the North Yorkshire Moors. It seems that over the years coins have been knocked into the logs by passers-by using stones in the hope it will bring them good fortune.

Mallyan Spout

The Mallyan Spout waterfall is on your left-hand side. The woodland and river are very photogenic here and the glade with the waterfall is a wonderful place just to sit and soak up the atmosphere. If the sun is in the right place it can feel almost magical. If you’re lucky and visit on a weekday you might have the place to yourself, although it is quite popular.

To return to Goathland go back 130m to the sign and turn right onto the track up through the woodland. This goes to the Mallyan Spout Hotel on the edge of Goathland. Turn left to walk down the village and then bear right to come into the centre of the village where the shops are. The car parks are on the other side of the road.


Whilst I take every care to ensure the accuracy of the route descriptions, I cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. The route described may be pleasant for walking in fine weather but can become slippery, boggy and dangerous in wintry or wet weather. On days when visibility is impaired by fog, rain, cloud or mist, some landmarks used as direction aids in the route descriptions may not be visible.

Holiday Cottages help people find their perfect cottage in popular holiday destinations across the whole of the UK. Dog-friendly cottages, farmhouses or apartments, they have something to suit all budgets and requirements. Find your perfect holiday cottage in North Yorkshire here.

Want to save this article for later? Pin the image below.

Circular Walk to Mallyan Spout
Circular Walk to Mallyan Spout

Leave a comment