Pen-y-Ghent from Horton is the classic climb on this iconic Dales mountain. The walk is much improved by continuing on the mile long ridge to Plover Hill.
Pen-y-Ghent (probable meaning hill on the border) is the most famous and popular of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Whether it is the best is a matter of conjecture, it is the smallest in height. However it presents a dramatic outline from Horton in Ribblesdale. The 3 great rakes on the summit rock cap were formed only in 1881 after a tremendous thunderstorm washed away the top soil leaving the millstone grit and limestone exposed. This exposed millstone offers a pleasant little scramble up loose rock before the extensive summit views take the attention.
Starting the climb from Horton (the best start point) walk through the woods to the farm at Bracken Bottom. From here there is a long rolling climb to the hole is the wall. During this climb there is some lovely exposed limestone and good views over your shoulder. From the stile turn left and climb steeply in to the craggy slopes below the summit.
Join the obvious path on the west side of the summit and head down hill. A few hundred yards from where the return to Horton leaves the popular 3 Peaks path is Hull Point. It is actually a collapsed limestone cavern but today makes for a dramatic ‘hole in the ground’ particularly after heavy rain.
Pen y Ghent is the real heart of England lying on the watershed of the country. Waters to the West entering the Ribble and ending up in the Irish Sea, to the East the Wharfe eventually finds its way in to the Humber estuary – a truly tortuous journey!
Pen y Ghent and Plover Hill are two of the Dales 30 Mountains
For the more adventurous it is worth visiting the subsidiary summit of Plover Hill. From the summit of Pen-y-Ghent simply follow the wall north and then east for a mile. It is even possible to carry on north from Plover Hill and drop down steep slopes to join a major bridleway. Turn left and follow it all the way back to Horton, this is truly the best way to enjoy Pen-y-Ghent.
On the climb east from Bracken Bottom farm count the number of walls you pass. It is the best way of gauging how far up the slope you are. Stone walls (or any boundaries) are marked on Ordnance Survey maps by continuous black lines.
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