With the first fine day forecast for some time, it was time to plan a walk in the great outdoors. I fancied a change from the Peak District, which I know so well, so decided upon the Yorkshire Dales. It makes for a long day, about 190 km (120 miles) each way from Derby, but at least can be reached by train; the £30 fare with a senior railcard being reasonable value. So it was, I found myself getting off the train at the attractive station at Horton-in-Ribblesdale at about 10am after an early start. My plan was to walk right round to the north end of Pen-y-ghent, one of the ‘Three Peaks’, the other two being Whernside and Ingleborough; climb up onto Plover Hill, walk from there to the summit of Pen-y-ghent then drop down to the villages of Stainforth and Langcliffe, and so into Settle for the train home. The beauty of using the train is that it facilitates linear walks, as well as avoiding any hassle over parking, traffic etc.
The view of Pen-y-ghent from Horton-in-Ribblesdale was impressive, as much of it facing that way was still snow covered.
I walked through the village then took the Pennine Way track heading in a broadly northerly direction, an easy but gentle climb in the bright sunshine, so welcome after so many days of poor weather. This track was typical of so many in the Yorkshire Dales being bounded by drystone walls on each side.
Eventually I reached the path junction where the Pennine Way turns east to ascend directly to the summit of Pen-y-ghent. I carried on northwards and shortly afterwards reached the impressive limestone feature known as Hull Pot. This is an impressive hole measuring 91 metres (300 feet) long by 18 metres (60 feet) wide by 18 metres (60 feet) deep. It is actually a collapsed cavern and the waterfall only flows over the rim following wet weather.
I continued on the path over the open moorland, completely alone and feeling miles from anywhere. I reached the path that goes south up Plover Hill and followed it up the steep slope and through a line of crags. This required care as there was still some snow and ice present.
The path onto Plover Hill
Once on Plover Hill, which is featureless apart from a drystone wall that runs all the way along the ridge to the summit of Pen-y-ghent and down the other side, it was just a case of trying to keep out of the most boggy areas and following the wall. I reached the summit to find quite a few people there, a shock after seeing so few hitherto.
After having had my fill of the extensive views – it being possible to clearly see the Howgill Fells and as far north as Cross Fell – I headed south down the steep rocky prow of Pen-y-ghent passing a steady stream of folk toiling up. This was a bit of a scramble in places where the path passed first through a band of gritstone crags followed lower down by a band of limestone crags.
Having reached the bottom of the steep bit, I followed the very boggy path across the moor, passing some beautiful limestone pavement, and down to the village of Stainforth. Again I was alone, with just the occasional curlew and lapwing call for company.
Stainforth is a very attractive dales village and Stainforth Falls, in the river Ribble close by, is quite a tourist draw, which I did not visit on this occasion. My route was up Catrigg Lane, another typical Dales lane, past Winskill and down to Langcliffe, another attractive village.
The final short climb awaited me followed by a pleasant path overlooking Settle. All too soon, I reached Settle , a beautiful market town just outside the national park, with time for some fish and chips before catching the train home from the lovely station. The walk although quite a long one of 24 km (15 miles) had been a very rewarding one and just fitted within the time I had available between trains.