First time for everything.
As we find ourselves increasingly embracing the outdoors and everything it has to offer, it’s becoming a little harder to find true peace while out and about. A lot of crowds are flocking to the more obvious and often accessible areas, leaving the more seasoned of us yearning for the less trodden areas of the country. As we find ourselves increasingly embracing the outdoors and everything it has to offer, it’s becoming a little harder to find true peace while out and about. A lot of crowds are flocking to the more obvious and often accessible areas, leaving the more seasoned of us yearning for the less trodden areas of the country.
Believe it or not, I had never visited the Yorkshire Dales prior to this hike; I had pre-conceptions of wide-open fields and a total ascent of 100 metres, so it rarely tickled my fancy when considering my next hike. But with the changes we’re all enduring at the moment, I decided that it couldn’t do any harm to consider new and lesser popular areas.
As per usual, I was wrong.
This route goes over some of the most alien landscape I’ve ever came across. Starting in Clapham, a sleepy town due south of Ingleborough itself, the route follows an old cobbled road; it’s beggars’ belief how horse and cart could have passed over this road, never mind the bikers that come across it on ‘The Penine journey. Once you’ve navigated the slippy cobbles, a right turn takes you back toward Ingleborough, skirting around the underside of Thwaite.
Snaking through long scar, the view to the right-hand side is the first of Crummack Dale and Moughton Scars, with Pen-y-ghent – this landscape is completely surreal, looking like a hybridisation of a dried riverbed and otherworldly grounds. As you are easily distracted by the view in this area, watch your footing as you dodge and dart around seemingly bottomless Shake Holes.
This landscape continues for a couple of kilometeres, until you arrive at ‘Sulber Gate’, passing Thieves Moss on the right-hand side and breaking out onto Sulber, a large area of grassland. The route continues until a waymarked crossroads, heading right for the approach to Ingleborough.
Following what can only be described as a very muddy stream bed in wet weather, I found it beneficial to progress to climb up and onto the surrounding rock formations, hopping over the hundreds of holes made in the rock by years of weathering and erosion, some developing into more obvious cave entries, such as Nick Pot and Sulber Pot.
Passing round and up the southern edge of Simon Fell, Ingleborough and it’s surprisingly striking summit comes into view. Never did I think I would come across landscape in the Yorkshire Dales which would be more at home in the likes of the Peaks or Lakes. With some brilliant scramble options or a slightly snakey footpath, the route breaks out onto a plateaued summit – in poor visibility this is very dis-orientating; with a completely flat plateau and loose rock underfoot, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a welsh beach, not 723m above sea level.
Making your way across the plateau until you find the fortified cairn for lunch and coffee, I imagine the 360 degree view is amazing, but our day was a complete white-out. What this lack of visibility hides is just how violently the landscape drops away from this plateau, again something that I would have expected in far more mountainous regions.
As the route heads back towards the descent, it is close to impossible to pick up the path down to little Ingleborough in anything but perfect visibility. If the weather demands, head back to the ascent path and then trace the eastern edge of the plateau until you identify the footpath.
The footpath down to Little Ingleborough can be steep and fast, levelling out for a short period, before again diving down straight toward Gaping Gill. If you have held off tucking into your lunch by this point, then take the time to have a wander and find a spot looking over Gaping Gill – A seriously impressive cave entry, where Fell Beck disappears into the depths of the earth.
After here, the route follows a narrow valley footpath following ‘A Penine Journey’, eventually arriving at Ingleborough Cave. For a few quid, you can go on a short walk around Ingleborough cave, which is apparently some of the best limestone scenery you’ll see around. For want of a pint and relax, we took the nature trail (Again, small toll here, but very worth it) down Clapdale Drive, with plenty of areas to stop and learn about the history of ‘The Lake’ and the surrounding plantations.
If you don’t fancy paying for the nature trail, cross the river to your left at the next footbridge, following the right of way across the valley and joining your original approach route of long lane.
Arriving back in Clapham, the entire 18km route goes through an amazing range of landscapes; from mountain summits to nature trails, The Yorkshire Dales quite literally has it all. Parking was a plenty in the centre of Clapham in the main car park for a small fee, with toilets available.
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