Stage 3: Settle to Chapel-le-Dale – hiking a Dales High Way
Alex Langfield planned a hike.
October 22, 2020
This leg is all about the unrivalled scenery of Ribblesdale and reaches a climax on arguably Yorkshire’s most iconic peak: Ingleborough. At 2,375 feet (724m), the summit of Ingleborough is the highest point of the entire Dales High Way and is a fitting headline act, roughly halfway through this epic journey. Ribblesdale is a hiker’s heaven and this ramble, whilst shorter than the previous legs, is a strenuous yet rewarding trek across sublime countryside.
The first few miles follow the delightful River Ribble north towards Stainforth and the lovely waterfall of Stainforth Force. A series of cascades tumbling over limestone ledges, it is a frequently visited beauty spot. In late Autumn, salmon can often be seen leaping up the falls on the way to spawning sites.
Heading west, you’ll take in an easy ascent below Smearsett Scar before coming to the village of Feizor, where Elaine’s Teashop serves quality coffee of significant renown. Now with caffeine potentially coursing through your veins, the sight of Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough growing in stature with every step should be enough to quicken the pulse. Find your way to the track of White Stone Lane and cross the photogenic ford at Austwick Beck.
From here it’s all about Ingleborough, as you start the long ascent of this king of the Dales. Its distinctively stepped, wedge-shaped appearance is down to some quirky geological traits. Alternating layers of limestone, sandstone and shale form the foundations for its gritstone crown, which was also the site of a Neolithic – and later Roman – stronghold. Its magnificent form draws you onwards over craggy terrain, until you finally start the ascent proper from the east.
You’ll skirt along the breast of Simon Fell’s bulky form, gaining Ingleborough’s main ridge around 1,000 feet (300m) east of the summit. On a clear day, the top rewards with a jaw dropping panorama, including the principal high points of the Dales, Kinder Scout in the Peak District, the Howgill Fells, the major peaks of the Lake District and even Carnedd Llewellyn in Snowdonia and Snae Fell on the Isle of Man. Closer by, it is the gorgeous form of Pen-y-ghent, seen beautifully across Ribblesdale, that will draw your eye.
A wind shelter is on hand for you to take stock if the elements have been a bit much. All that remains to do now is to head back east along the ridge and join the path that descends sharply to the north. Take care on the steep 300 feet (100m) of initial descent before making your way past the limestone shake holes and into the tiny hamlet of Chapel-le-Dale. The navvies who laboured on the Carlisle to Settle railway line are buried in St Leonard’s Church here, which is worth a visit before you retire to the Old Hill Inn for a well-deserved beverage.
October 30, 2020