Hiking in Yorkshire Dales – Ribblehead and Ingleborough

Written by Yuesong Cai

Ingleborough Peak is a 14.8 kilometer out and back trail located near Austwick, North Yorkshire, England. Ingleborough is one of the ‘Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ and affords wonderful panoramic views of Whernside, Pen-y-Ghent and out to Morecambe Bay and round to the Lakeland Hills. The mountain has cavernous sinkholes, rivers, and limestone landscapes. During the walk you can enjoy the views and the maze of limestone pavement. The general hiking route I took start from Ribblehead station, towards Ingleborough Peak, and terminates at Horton-in-ribblesdale station.

This walk begins at the picture perfect railway station of Ribblehead. You have to cross the railway tracks via the crossing boards from the northbound platform to get to the southbound platform. Once you’re onto the above platform the walk heads out from the station and follows the rough track down towards a pub which you will see at the end of the track on the opposite side of the road. For me this station is one of the finest in the country for scenery, when you get to the pub, taking a slight detour from the walk, cut right, and just take a look at one the most famous and impressive views you will ever see.

Ribblehead viaduct is just over the border from Cumbria into North Yorkshire, but as the most impressive structure on the Settle-Carlisle Railway, it is included here. Ribblehead viaduct is just a short walk from Ribblehead station. About a mile north of the viaduct, just beyond Blea Moor signal box, is Force Gill Aqueduct, carrying Force Gill over the railway. A footpath leads from Ribblehead viaduct over the aqueduct to Whernside. Designed by John Sydney Crossley (Chief Engineer of the Midland Railway), the viaduct is the longest and third tallest structure on the Settle-Carlisle line. The Viaduct has twenty-four magnificent arches that carry the railway line 104 ft above the moor. Two thousand three hundred men (navvies) were involved in the construction of the viaduct and the nearby Blea Moor tunnel. The navvies lived in shanty towns built in the area near the base of the viaduct. This area is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Over 100 men died during the construction of the viaduct.

Head back now towards the pub and head along the road under the railway bridge. The road is what it is, and at the end of the day you need to take care here, but this part of the walk allows you to view the terrain you are about to undertake, Park Fell is the nearest, with Simon Fell wedged between it, with the mighty Ingleborough beyond. There is over a mile of road walking before you can see the path that will lead you to the flanks of Ingleborough. After quite a long walk, coming off from the road you are now onto the route of the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk.

After crossing the main road and heading across undulating fields and along a well maintained limestone path, which ascends slightly, you will soon reach the base of the main climb up to the summit of Ingleborough. You’ll realise that you’ve been able to see the route up to the top for a few miles, but have probably dismissed it as an old dried up waterfall or other geological feature in the side of the hill. There’s a short reprieve at the top of this main steep section and then another short bit of scrambling before you reach a plateau – the Trig Point is at the other end of that plateau. From the bottom of the main push to the plateau will take you around half an hour; it’s steep but it’s the last climb and there are some fabulous views on the way up and from the top. The view, when you are lucky enough to have one, is excellent in all directions, with a clear view on Ribblehead viaduct afar. The trick though is to visit on a clear day.

Now heads back downhill, but this time we are aiming for Horton-in-ribblesdale train station. The path is very well worn and easy to follow, heading initially in the direction of Pen-y-ghent visible on the horizon. Continue along the path, which after a few hundred yards drops down and crosses a farm track, before descending again to pass over a wooden stile in the wall a further thirty yards on. Over to the right is Horton Quarry, which is continually changing the landscape whilst excavating the limestone. Whilst walking along this, there are excellent views across towards Little Ingleborough and up on to Ingleborough itself if you look back. The path initially is quite steep but after about three quarters of a mile, the path then starts to flatten.

Now you arrive at Horton in Ribblesdale. This small village in the heart of Yorkshire is the perfect base for the Yorkshire Three Peaks and other walks in this area. With camping, B&Bs, pubs and cafes there is no need to rush your visit here.

You can check out my video from hiking in the Yorkshire Dales here.

 

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Yuesong Cai
Hi, I am Yuesong Cai and I am a first-year BSc Financial Mathematics Student. I come from Nanjing, China, where I did an International A-level programme at Jinling High School...
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