Penyghent and Plower Hill
with Steve Goodier (February 2016)
Start/Parking: The National Park car park on the main road (B6479) through Horton in Ribblesdale. This is pay and display and can get very full on fine days so aim to arrive early.
Distance: 8.7 miles (14 km)
Time: 4.5-5 hours
Terrain: The route uses mostly good paths and tracks that are easy to follow but there are some less well-defined areas and a few trackless sections. There is a steep prolonged ascent to reach Penyghent that involves some simple scrambling over rocky blocks in the upper reaches. The descent from Plover Hill is steep and rough and a little exposed in one or two places so take care. There are one or two boggy sections and a long descent to Horton in Ribblesdale from near Hull Pot. This is a remote, high-level mountain route that is best done on a day of clear, settled weather and should be avoided in mist and bad conditions.
Facilities: Horton in Ribblesdale has several pubs, a campsite, a small shop and of course, the famous Penyghent Café to get a cup of tea or coffee in after your walk is over.
Maps: The Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western Areas.
The steep ascent to Penyghent
I have to admit to having spent a lot of time in and around Horton in Ribblesdale.
Mostly I have been camping on the campsite there and enjoyed days on the surrounding hills with Penyghent being a regular favourite. It’s a wonderful mountain and synonymous with the village sheltering below it.
Horton in Ribblesdale is a real walkers’ paradise and is always an exciting village to start a walk from in the morning and return back to at day’s end. Horton is always full of Gore-Tex-clad, rucksack-wearing outdoor types, and the fact that the legendary Penyghent Café is the start and finish point for the tough Three Peaks Challenge, taking in Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in under twelve hours, draws even more walkers into the village. In settled summer weather it can be almost impossible to find a parking place unless you arrive very early.
Horton in Ribblesdale is a superb base from which to explore this area of North Yorkshire, and the walking possibilities in the surrounding areas are endless.
Our walk today is a rough and tumble, high-level mountain and moorland outing taking in Penyghent and Plover Hill with a return made over the wilderness of Horton Moor past the spectacular hole of Hull Pot.
This route makes a great day out in settled weather and you should keep it for a day of sunshine and clear skies when the views will be at their most spectacular.
Penyghent is one of those tops that you simply have to climb once you have seen it, and those who set out to do it are well rewarded with a great day out. The summit is a grand place to sit and eat your sandwiches and play “name the mountain” as you gaze around the impressive skyline.
1. Exit the car park going right along the road past the Penyghent Café. After this cross left over the road taking a track sign-posted “Foxup/Penyghent”. Follow an ascending track through a gate. At a junction go right to descend between walls. Pass through a gate/opening followed by a farmyard and go right at a track junction. Next go left by a cream-coloured cottage (signposted for “Penyghent”) crossing a bridge. Reach a lane and go left on it. Follow the lane rising to curve right to reach gates and a “Penyghent” sign on the left just before Brackenbottom Farm. Go left through the gate/opening to rise up a concrete track. Go left at a gate, following an arrow. Cut right through another gate. Climb the obvious path with a wall to your left. Rise through a gate and later cross a stile. Keep the wall left following the rising path over a series of rocky steps. Beyond these the path becomes surfaced. Rise through a gate and continue up steps. Follow the good path to pass through a gate to a path junction with the Pennine Way. Go left with a wall left and climb the rough and rocky path. The path leaves the wall further up and climbs scrambly, rocky steps to re-join the wall as the angle eases. Continue on the wide path to the trig point and summit of Penyghent.
2. From the summit cross the stile to reach the other side of the wall and a path junction. Go right taking a footpath signposted for “Plover Hill”. Keep a wall right and descend to a grassy and rocky col that can be boggy. Cross this and rise beyond, still keeping the wall right to soon cross a stile. Continue to rise by the wall (right), negotiating a way through boggy sections until you reach a stile in a wall corner on the summit of Plover Hill.
3. Cross the stile to a wall corner. Go left by the wall for a few paces, staying ahead when the wall bends left. Descend a grassy path past a stake. Continue descending now on a steeper and rougher path to continue by a wall (right) further down – now on a surfaced path. Continue descending to curve left on an exposed path requiring care. Soon drop steeply to curve right (it’s exposed again here – care required). Continue to descend through a wall gap following the surfaced path then continuing lower down on a grassy path. Descend to reach a path and track junction near a gate right.
4. Go left following the good path through a gate. Beyond this, follow the path to curve left then right through an old wall. Follow the path to cross a bridge over a beck. Rise past a wall corner and pass through an old wall. After this follow a descending path and cross two bridges to then rise through a gate. Rise and dip again twice, keeping a wall left and continue to a path crossroads as the wall bends left. Go ahead, descending along a path to curve right and follow a little ravine as the path improves. Continue to descend and curve left at a wall near Hull Pot. Continue with this wall to your right, passing through a gate in it shortly to reach a path junction. You can visit Hull Pot from this point if you wish but our route goes left, following a path to join a track before a gate. Go ahead to reach the gate and track junction plus a Pennine Way marker.
5. Go through the gate signposted for “Horton in Ribblesdale” and “The Pen-nine Way” and descend a good walled track passing through two gates. Continue down on this track to curve left and soon curve right to pick up your outbound route at a track junction and pass through a gate. Follow your outbound route back to the road. Go right past the Penyghent Café to the car park.