Map for walk on Pen-y-GhentThis walk has the great advantage of being a quiet walk on Pen-y-Ghent, one of the busiest summits in the Yorkshire Dales. On just about every day of the year this mountain is full of people doing the Three Peaks or the Pennine Way, but our route avoids both of those routes for most of its length. On a sunny sunday we passed two other groups of walkers on the ascent, but dozens at the summit.

Ascent: 1,950ft/
Length: 11 miles/
Map: Map: Yorkshire Dales - Southern and Western Areas (OS Explorer Map Active) (OS Explorer Map Active)
Last Walked: 11 May 2008

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Start at the Pen-y-Ghent cafe, in the centre of Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Cross the road, and turn Tarn Barright. After a short distance a track leaves to the left, signposted for Pen-y-Ghent and the Pennine Way. This lane quickly climbs up out of the village onto the flanks of Pen-y-Ghent, heading east for a short distance before turning to the left.

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We follow this rocky track for just over a mile and a half as it heads north east, running almost parallel to the western face of Pen-y-Ghent. Towards the end of this part of the walk we pass a series of dramatic dry waterfalls in the valley to the right of the lane, ending at Tarn Bar. Just past the last of these the track turns sharply right, then curves around to the left before emerging from between its stone walls into an open field.

Here the Pennine Way turns right, heading directly for the front of Pen-y-Ghent, but we ignore this turn, and continue north east along the track, following the valley as it runs between low hills. This track brings us up to Hull Pot. This massive pot holl is dramatic, but unfenced, so be careful!

Hull PotHull Pot waterfallHull Pot beck in Hull Pot

Just to the east of Hull Pot a stile crosses the wall on the right hand side of the valley. Cross this stile. On the far side a path follows the line of a minor side valley. Follow this path as it curves gently around to the left, passing the point where one of the rare upland streams in this area disappears underground.

We soon reach a crossroads in the path, where our route crosses the Three Peaks route. On a clear day Whernside can be seen along the left hand branch, which heads straigh as an arrow across the moor. Our route crosses this path and continues on to the north east, running to the left of a stone wall. We follow this wall for the next mile, and then continue along the same path past the end of the wall.

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Foxup MoorThe point we leave this path to climb up Plover Hill is marked by a rather unexpected signpost. Turn right at the sign, and follow the path as it climbs up the increasingly steep northern slope of Plover Hill. At the top of this steep climb we pass through a gap in a stone wall which brings us to the base of the line of cliffs that surround the summit plateau.

Path up the cliffs on Plover HillFrom a distance the path looks as if it dangles over the edge of massive cliffs, but in fact although our path does indeed go very close to the top of the cliffs, it does it at a point where the cliffs are only a few feet high (the first time I used the path was in such a heavy mist that we appeared to be climbing precariously over a huge drop, but on the last visit it was much less alamring). After passing the cliffs the path curves around to the right, before emerging onto the summit plateau of Plover Hill.

Pen-y-Ghent from Plover HillWe emerge onto the plateau by the side of a stone wall, which runs south across the hill. Our path heads a little to the right of this path, heading for a stile that crosses a wall running east to west across the summit. Cross this stile and then follow the path as it runs to the right of a stone wall which runs all the way to the summit of Pen-y-Ghent - after running south west for for just over half a mile, this path then turns left and heads straight for the summit.

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At the summit pass through the gated stile, and follow the obvious path that runs down the southern spur of the mountain. This path descends very rapidly down the southern flank of Pen-y-Ghent, dropping down two rocky steps where care needs to be taken. At the bottom of the second of these rocky patches, the path descends down a flight of steps built into a scree slope.

Seats on Pen-y-Ghent Southern cliffs of Pen-y-Ghent

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South phase of Pen-y-GhentWhile we have been descending down the steep southern flank of the mountain our route onwards had been clearly visible running south along Gavel Rigg, the Gavel Riggspur of land that extends south from Pen-y-Ghent. At the point where the stseps end, continue straight on in the same direction, heading due south along a dusty path. In the next field this path curves away slightly to the left, crossing some damp areas on raised boardwalks.
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Rabbits in RibblesdaleLong Lane Pen-y-GhentWe follow this path until it joins a rough track. Turn right onto this track, and follow it for the next two miles. For most of this distance this track, known as Long Lane, runs south west down the side of the hill, before turning right to join the road through Ribblesdale.
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Turn left onto the main road and follow it until it turns to the left (use the grassy verge on the far side of the road). At this point leave the main road and turn right onto the minor road to Helwith Bridge.
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Ribble from Helwith BridgeJust across the bridge we pass a pub. Follow the signposted footpath that crosses the pub car park, before cutting across two small fields to reach a minor road. A permissive footpath runs along side this footpath, so turn right and follow this footpath to its end. At this point the minor roads turns sharply to the left, while our path turns to the right, running along a narrow lane which passes under the Settle to Carlisle railway, then turns left, running close to the River Ribble before emerging into a large field.

Head straight across this field. At the far side we reach the edge of the Ribble. Turn left and follow the river as it curves around to the right, passing a farm and its associated bridge on the way. After just under half a mile we reach a footbridge that crosses back to the eastern bank of the river.

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Pen-y-Ghent from the RibbleCross over the footbridge, then turn left to follow a short track that leads into a large open field. Once in that field turn right, and head towards a farm visible at the far corner of the field. Just before reaching the farm, a small footbridge crosses the stream to the left. Cross this bridge, then turn right and follow the path (which soon turns into a track) until it reaches the track that leads to this farm. Turn left, and follow this track back into Horton.

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