Ribblesdale is the setting for the Yorkshire Three Peaks, a twenty four mile walk that includes the summits of Whernside, Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough, and which has to be completed in twelve hours. Most people attempting the Three Peaks begin at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and carry out the walk anti-clockwise, climbing Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and finally Ingleborough.
As a result the summits of the three peaks are busy at different times of the day – Pen-y-Ghent in particular can be surprisingly quiet in the afternoon, by which time all of the three-peakers should have reached the second or third peak.
Pen-y-Ghent dominates Ribblesdale, and seems to be present in almost every view, helped by its unmistakable appearance. The southern flanks of the mountain reach down to Stainforth, and it stretches north for nearly six miles, ending where the top of Littondale reaches around behind Plover Hill.
Ingleborough itself never really appears to its best in the Ribblesdale view. Instead its eastern and northern outliers, Simon Fell and Park Fell take centre stage on the western side of the upper reaches of the valley, while further south the limestone pavements crossed at Sulber Nick dominate.
Ribblesdale really starts at Settle, famously the starting point for the Settle to Carlisle railway, which heads up the full length of the valley. Above Settle are a series of paired villages –Langcliffe and Stackhouse, then Stainforth and Little Stainforth, set on opposite sides of the Ribble. Horton-in-Ribblesdale is the main village in the dale, once again dominated by the Three Peaks. Beyond that is the hamlet of Selside, in the middle of pot holing country.
Ribblehead is dominated by the famous viaduct, which carried the Settle-to-Carlisle railway across the swamp that is all that separates upper Ribblesdale from the valley of Winterscales Beck.