WITH daylight lengthening as we enter March this full day’s walk explores some of the remote countryside that border the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

It maybe too early to take on one of the peaks, but ideal to observe them from below. A long walk but the easy tracks make (most) of the walking straightforward.

Start the walk from High Birkwith Farm; to find the farm head north from Horton in Ribblesdale on a narrow dead end road between the two bridges at the Crown Inn. There is limited road side parking before arriving at the farm. Near the farm are two of the best caves for inexperienced cavers (Birkwith and Old Ing). They are known as stream caves and easy to explore, although they do form part of a larger caving network, accessible only by divers, though.

From the farm follow the bridleway north east and then north through sheep farming country. The three peaks route from Penyghent to Ribblehead crosses here, but ignore it and carry on past the attractive packhorse bridge over Ling Gill. This is part of the Pennine Way/Bridleway and in good condition, the views start to open up over Ingleborough and Whernside after a steady climb and probably at their best when the track meets the Cam High Road. The Cam High Road is Roman in origin and used by Ceasar’s legions while heading north to Hadrian’s Wall. Today it is used by the Forestry Commission and as a result in excellent condition. Turn right at the road and continue climbing steadily for one mile. At a height of over 500m take the path to the right which cuts through the corner of the large forestry plantation. Two stiles lead to Cam Houses which is worth exploring and an ideal spot for a picnic. The next mile is through tussocky, sometimes muddy, terrain, but it is downhill and before long arrive at Swarthgill Farm.

Swarthgill Farm and the nearby Nethergill Farm are in the real heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Both are very remote, but the farmers are making every effort to diversify. They offer accommodation for those on the Dales Way and Nethergill is an impressive conservation landscape, the farming practices encouraging a large array of wildlife and now a tourist attraction. From Swarthgill continue past Nethergill to the small hamlet of Outershaw. Among the buildings of Outershaw a footpath heads south west (left) and climbs steeply uphill to a stile and in to forestry land. From here the nature of the walk completely changes, the forest shutting out the views (bad), weather (can be good) and sounds of the first half of the walk. For one mile the footpath winds its way through the forest to a quiet dead end road heading west. Follow the road for a further mile until High Green where the tarmac becomes a farm track, still in good condition. Continue through the forest for a further mile until with some relief the track emerges in to open countryside. Continue for a further 500m to a split in the track, turn right and enjoy the views of Penyghent to the south and Ingleborough and Whernside to the west. The path drops down between two small hills to New Ings and join the outbound track to the start at High Birkwith Farm.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 14 miles.

Height to climb: 310m (1,030 feet).

Start: SD 800767. Near High Birkwith Farm on the dead end road north from Horton.

Difficulty: Hard. A long day but mainly on good tracks.

Refreshments: Horton-In-Ribblesdale has two pubs.

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 (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 runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston, near Settle (Beginners or ‘Mountain Skills’) First Available Date is 25th March.

Where2walk.co.uk also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.