Ingleborough one of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire is one of the most recognisable hills in the country. “Peak” is a bit of a misnomer that might make readers imagine a shapely pinnacle. If Ingleborough ever had a pinnacle shapely or otherwise it has long been worn down by wind, rain and ice to create a broad flat summit over 2000ft high. The route described below is one of the great walks of the Yorkshire Dales and high on my list for one of the best in the country.
Distance: 10 miles 16k
Grade: Obviously a strenuous walk but the ascent is mitigated by stepped stages allowing for breathers.
1. From the car park entrance turn right and walk up the street towards the church. At the church bear left and then right. At this point you have a choice. Pay a nominal amount (65p when the walk was checked)
to enter Clapdale by the Nature Trail or go a little bit further to avoid this fee and turn right on the bridleway. (If you take this second option walk up the bridleway for a little under a mile to Clapdale Farm then turn right on a footpath descending to Clapdale Drive just beyond the woodland of the trail.) My advice cough up and enjoy a most attractive introduction to the walk. From the entrance a broad track zig zags up to a rather lovely artificial lake.
Keep on the track through woodland and it brings you to a gate leading into a steep sided valley. The way is obvious - past Ingleborough Show Cave ("the best show cave in the universe" or something like that)
and continue to Trow Gill an impressive ravine created by the melt waters of the Ice Age.
An easy scramble will take you through this to a higher level - with a wall to the left the sides of the valley fall away and then after crossing the wall at a ladder stile the magnificence of limestone country opens out with a sweeping panorama. The path arrives at Gaping Gill one of Britain's deepest holes in the ground with Britain's largest underground chamber open to the surface and Fell Beck which flows into it creates Britain's tallest unbroken waterfall.
The marvels of Gaping Gill are best observed within and at certain times in the year local caving clubs set up a winch so that interested tourists can be dropped down to the floor 300ft below. The joke is that it is free to go down but to return costs whatever rate the club has set to aid its funds - £15 last year. The path from Gaping Gill to the summit is clear and steep.
After arriving on top of Little Ingleborough marked by a large cairn there is some respite as the path follows the edge of an escarpment
before the final climb to the plateau. The trig point and shelter are on the far side (west) on this approach.
Three paths converge near here - the one you came up on, the route from Chapel-le-Dale and the one you want that descends steeply and then follows the flank of Simon Fell.
It is on the Three Peak trail and in clear weather easy to spot. (You are aiming towards Pen -y-ghent). After an initial awkward descent over stony ground the track becomes easier as it levels out. A mile from the top cross a wall at a ladder stile.
Keep on the track passing the ruins of a shooting hut and
then after passing through an area of vast limestone pavement follow a rocky valley to a sign post.
This is close to Suber Nick and places you on the Pennine Bridleway.
After a mile the track swings to the right in front of an area of upland. Then after dropping towards Clapdale
the bridleway arrives at the end of Long Lane.
Never has a more appropriate name been given to a lane - at the end of a ten mile walk it may appear interminable but it has the merit of being unambiguous. Just stay on it until you reach a junction. Here turn right dropping steeply on a stony track passing through two short tunnels
to reach the village.