Ribblesdale inc Settle, Horton & Ingleton

Jonathan’s View

“Ribblesdale has pretty Yorkshire villages set amongst classical limestone scenery.”

The Dale

I have lived in Ribblesdale for well over 10 years and I am very familiar with its charms. The Ribble itself is an attractive river but it is the long valley it flows through which makes it one of the most scenic places in the Dales. The south and west section of the Yorkshire Dales is characterised by limestone outcrops, pavements and scars.

These combine with some of the best dry stone walls and the prettiest villages to offer an enticing area to explore. Ribblesdale is the most accessible area of the Dales. Apart from the 3 Peaks on a summer Saturday it never feels overly busy. In fact driving in to Settle on a late summer’s evening with the pink glow on the limestone cliffs is a sight rarely bettered throughout the country.


Upper Settle
Upper Settle

Settle is a bustling market town situated right on the edge of the National Park. It is easily accessible (just off the A65 and with a regular bus and train service) and has great character. The town is overlooked by the 500 foot limestone scar of Castleburg Crag which can be climbed by a myriad of footpaths on its steep slopes. The marketplace and the two storey historic building known as the Shambles is full of character that really comes to life on market day (Tuesday). However the real joy of Settle is the hidden alleyways and walkways. They lead to little surprises such as the Folly which often has exhibitions of local interest on its site.

Settle is on my doorstep, an attractive market town of great character and charm and I would recommend staying here. Car & Kitchen offer a selection of good quality niknaks,and Castleberg Sports is the place to go for outdoor gear and local knowledge.  The Naked Man is rightly one of the most famous tea shops in the Yorkshire Dales but the other ones are equal in terms of friendly service and character. There is a good choice of pubs (The Lion and the Talbot are both very good). No 13 is a wine bar providing a different, more sophisticated drinking experience.

Whilst in Settle it is worth taking a walk over the Ribble and in to the neighbouring village of Giggleswick. Overlooked by the famous Giggleswick School (founded in 1512) a walk round Giggleswick is a lesson in history with grand old buildings and sites straight out of 19th century Britain. Access to the Ribble and a short walk along its banks towards Stainforth is immensely satisfying.

For more information on Settle and all its facilities follow Visit Settle

Long Preston

Long Preston is the most attractive of the villages that line the A65 between Skipton and Settle. It is also the base for a number of very good walks. Unlike the other villages it lies within the National Park boundary and has benefited through a more enlightened housing policy. The highlight of the year is the Maypole dancing on May Day by the local school children and crowning of the May Queen on the village green. It is also my home.


Limestone Pavement on Ingleborough
Limestone Pavement on Ingleborough

Ingleton sits under the fine mountain of Ingleborough. There are some excellent walks from the door and it sits conveniently at a cross roads with easy access to the central Dales. The centre of Ingleton is an attractive cobbled street with some interesting shops and a good choice of genuine traditional Yorkshire Dales places to eat. Do not be put off by the approaches to the centre which are a little sprawling and down beat.  As a base though to explore the area it is unbeatable and for those who want to treat it as this I can recommend a short stay here. It is also a good centre for those activists who want a holiday caving or white water rafting with Ingleton providing a lively base for the younger who are visiting the area.

Further up from Ingleton towards Ribblehead is the small hamlet of Chapel le Dale. It is a pretty place that offers an excellent place to stay for those wanting to complete the 3 Peaks from an alternative (and quieter) start point.


Feizor near Austwick
Feizor near Austwick

Austwick is an attractive village, situated barely 1/2 a mile off the busy A65. Most of the buildings are of traditional Yorkshire stone and centred around a small green and the Game Cock Inn. The best area of the village though for a visitor is up on Town Head which has excellent views and with best access to the fells. The best walking from Austwick is from Town Head but if you are staying for more than a couple of nights there are some excellent low level walks to the neighbouring villages and hamlets.

All the walks though are set against the backdrop of the limestone hills formed along the Craven fault line. Today the village has a store/post office (and long may it continue), a high quality country furniture outlet at the Smithy, 2 churches, a primary school and the Game Cock Inn. The Game Cock is a traditional Dales inn with good beer, a beer garden, wood beamed interior, solid pub grub and variable service. It is traditional but if you are after a real taste of high quality dining in an elegant country house then visit the Traddock.


Near Ingleborough Cave
Near Ingleborough Cave

The small village of Clapham offers the best and most interesting way to climb Ingleborough. Sitting on Clapham Beck and coupled with some fine Yorkshire stone and commanding views makes the village very desirable to visit but also to live! A grand pub (the New Inn) overlooks the river and the village also boasts a village post office than is usually the case, a couple of tea shops, a gallery and a local crafts shop.

Above the village and south of Ingleborough is the fantastically named Clapdale (who would not want to visit somewhere named Clapdale?). Here Clapham Beck winds its way through an artificial lake, a world famous caving network towards the summit of Ingleborough. Ingleborough Cave is undoubtedly the draw to Clapham. Further up the path is narrow Trow Gill and the geologically challenged Gaping Gill. Here Fell Beck falls 104 metres in to a network of caves before it emerges nearly 1 mile later at Beck Head Cave, a neighbour of Ingleborough Cave.

Stainforth and Langcliffe


Hidden away up Ribblesdale but only a few miles north of Settle lies Stainforth. The name is derived from ‘stony ford’ which originally linked two separate settlements on each side of the river. On the East bank, Stainforth was developed by the Cistercian monks of Sawley Abbey with the estate being efficiently run and prospering during the 14th and 15th century. However Little Stainforth, under private ownership, on the western side of the river gradually declined until 1670 when Samuel Watson replaced the ford with an attractive packhorse bridge. It is still the focal point of the village.

Stainforth Hall was built in the 17th century and, although converted to a farm now, is still an excellent 3 story building. The Craven Heiffer is a traditional Yorkshire pub, situated right bang on the packhorse bridge and also very worthy! The Heifer is an excellent example of a traditional Yorkshire pub. Nothing flamboyant, just good pub grub, light snacks and a fine pint of bitter. Langcliffe is nearby and has a lovely village green. It is close enough to walk in to Settle along an attractive back lane with superb views of the Settle scar.

Horton in Ribblesdale

The Crown Inn
The Crown Inn

Horton in Ribblesdale (meaning settlement on muddy ground) can be found on the B6479 midway between Settle and Ribblehead. Horton is functional but little more. Unlike the prettier and quieter villages of  Langcliffe, Austwick, Clapham and Stainforth it was never bypassed.

Horton is most famous as the start and finish points of the well publicised 3 Peaks challenge (24 miles and 5,000+feet of climbing). This is both a blight and a blessing for the village. At the present time it is a blight with any given summer weekend busy with thousands of walkers looking (often unsuccessfully) for somewhere to park and eat. The facilities are limited. There is not sufficient parking, the two pubs are ok and the cafe is often closed. The walkers still come (100,000 in 2019) because the walk itself is magnificent. In my opinion the best 1 day walking challenge in England.

So good in fact I have written a book about the Challenge.

However the result is Horton is disappointing, drab and at times not friendly. It is hard to blame the locals as they have had this challenge foisted upon them but as a ‘showcase’ for the Dales its really not good.

The History of Ribblesdale

Ribblehead viaduct
Ribblehead viaduct

History is all around you when visiting Ribblesdale. The dale was one of the main centres of cotton and wool manufacturing in the 19th century and the remains of mills still stand in many places. To cap it all at the head of the dale is the incomparable Ribblehead viaduct. Part of the excellent Settle to Carlisle rail line the viaduct was built in the 1870s and has 24 large stone arches and trains pass a 100 feet above the ground. Whole villages were built to house those who constructed it although these have now disappeared. It now stands in splendid isolation.

Agriculture has also dominated the lives of the people. The villages and towns acting as staging posts and fortifications depending on which stage of history we are looking at. Initially a classic English feudal system operated with local lords collecting rent from those around them. Less usual for the area was that pastoral farming was mixed with the tending of fields of corn and barley. Farming is still very popular along the valleys although tourism has now taken over as its primary business.

The Best Walks in Ribblesdale

My favourite walks in Ribblesdale are detailed below, just click on the link for further details.


Ribblehead, a short walk. Explore the history of the railway with a walk around the Ribblehead viaduct.

The Waterfalls of Ingleton. A deservedly popular walk which discovers a series of waterfalls flowing down two rivers.

A Snowy Walk above Settle. A nice but steep short walk from Settle but enjoy the snowy photography.

Limestone hills above Feizor. A perfect stretch of limestone walking and scenery lies between Feizor and Stainforth.

Long Preston Deeps. This walk takes in the ecologically sensitive area on flat lands by the Ribble.

Feizor & Austwick. Short and easy walk between these 2 villages through traditional farming lands

Catrigg Force from Stainforth. An easy walk from a lovely village to a perfect miniature waterfall.

8 Stiles of Long Preston. Riverside walking, a short climb and great views from an unspoilt village.

Ingleborough Cave from Clapham. A walk through the the woods of Clapdale to this well known cave.


Pen y Ghent from Horton. The most popular route up the smallest of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

Historic Villages near Settle. Taking in the best section of the Ribble and returning via the limestone scars above Settle.

Settle Loop. A 10 mile walk through the limestone scenery between Settle and Malham Tarn on an excellent track.

The Norber Erratics from Austwick. A geological masterpiece through the limestone scars and erratics of the area above Austwick.

The Lanes of Long Preston. The old road to Settle and Langber Lane combine for this pleasant 1/2 day in the moors above Long Preston.


Heart of 3 Peaks Country. A 14 1/2 mile walk over the watersheds of 3 of the major Yorkshire Dales; Ribblesdale, Wharfedale and Wensleydale.

Whernside from Ribblehead. The iconic viaduct at Ribblehead dominates the views on this walk up Yorkshire’s highest mountain.

Ingleborough and Gaping Gill. The finest route up Ingleborough from Clapham and via Gaping Gill & Ingleborough Cave..

Ingleborough from Ribblehead. An excellent climb over Simon Fell to the best of the 3 Peaks

Great Coum via Gragareth. A 15 mile high level walk which also includes a lovely section down the picturesque Leck Beck.

Yorkshire 3 Peaks. The classic 24 mile, 5,500 foot challenge around the 3 peaks.

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Other Things to do

Settle Carlisle railway. This 72 mile journey through stunning scenery is an engineering marvel. Stop off at any of the dramatic stations.

The Courtyard. Near Settle on the A65 lies a some excellent shops and a brasserie for those after a bit of pampering

Watershed Mill. A unique visitor centre including the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, a local shop selling bottled beer and a golfing shop.

Ingleton Pottery. Tours and demonstrations are available in this excellent family run work shop.

Ingleborough Cave. There is a network of over 1/2 km displaying a great cave of stalagtites and mites..

Folly at Settle. A museum opens in the summer showing images of the history of the district in a superb building.

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