NINETY five per cent of those climbing Penyghent will tackle the mountain from Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

However there is an enjoyable alternative and that is to approach Penyghent from the east. This route has the benefit of including Plover Hill more conveniently. Both mountains are part of the Dales 30.

The road between Stainforth and Halton Gill in Littondale is one of the finest in the Yorkshire Dales. Roughly midway and well above 1,000 ft it passes Dale Head Farm at a cattle grid. Start the walk here (there is parking just beyond the cattle grid).

The path to Penyghent from Dale Head Farm is part of the Pennine Way. Follow the Pennine Way sign down a farm lane and past the farm. From the farm pass through two gates on a wide track. On arrival at Churn Milk Hole turn right and follow the path towards the steeper upper slopes of Penyghent. The path can be muddy after wet weather, however the use of duck boards on the worst sections helps considerably.

Just before starting the steeper section two stiles on your left mark the meeting of the route up from Horton. From here the path is rocky and there is some limited scrambling. The route is obvious as the path is very well used at this point with the exposed rock offering a great contrast to what is ahead! After the steepest scramble to path pops out on an easy wide grassy ridge which is followed for a quarter of a mile to the summit of Penyghent. The shelter and wall can be most welcome in bad conditions.

It is the wall which provides the best navigational tool in the crossing from Penyghent to Plover Hill. Cross through a gap in the wall. The main path from the summit heads west back towards Horton but stick to the fainter, but still obvious, path which follows close by the wall heading north.

The path gradually descends for half a mile to a wide and often wet col. After the ladder stile the route starts to ascend, but still gradually. Follow the wall for a further half mile as it bends in a more easterly direction until it reaches a meeting of walls at an old sheep enclosure.

Cross the north wall at a stile and turn immediately right/east and follow it for 200m to a collapsed section on your right. Cross this and find the small cairn to mark the summit of Plover Hill. Plover Hill is one of the least visited of the Dales 30, the 30 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales over 2,000 feet high. The two mountains to the south are Fountain’s Fell and Darnbrook.

From the summit cairn do not re-cross the wall but follow a faint path alongside the wall heading east. Keeping the wall on your left it turns sharp right/south after three quarters of a mile and then a right again a little further downhill.

Keeping the boundary on your left follow it back to the road through some often wet and boggy hillside. Just pick the best and hopefully driest section.

It is two-and-a-half miles back along the quiet road to the car but this can be enlivened by taking to the rough path down hill from the road. The path meanders near the road for a large part of the walk back to the start at Dale Head Farm.

* Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly 8 miles

Height to Climb: 410m (1,345 feet)

Start: SD 843715. There is roadside parking just over the cattle grid at Dale Head Farm.

Difficulty: Hard. Some of the walking after Penyghent can be wet and awkward. The wall makes a good navigational tool though.

Refreshments: There are 3 pubs and a café in Osmotherley centre.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published two books on walks in the Dales, ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ and ‘The Dales 30’ mountains. Available direct from the Where2walk website.

Book a Navigation Training day (Beginners or Intermediates) in 2022. Dates and information on the website.

Where2walk also run Navigation weekends in the Dales and the ‘3 Peaks in 3 Days’ guided walks. Full details also on the website

Jonathan’s popular website,, also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.