Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales. To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

PEN-Y-GHENT is an excellent mountain. This walk takes in the classic (and easy to follow) climb but then leaves the rather dreary descent for a much more interesting (and quieter) return beyond the subsidiary summit of Plover Hill.

Start off at the car park in Horton in Ribblesdale and walk along the road towards the church. At the church follow a faint path to the left and cross the river at a wooden bridge. Join a lane past the old primary school and through the trees to the wonderfully named farm of Bracken Bottom.

Pass through a small gate just before reaching the farm buildings and join the obvious path that climbs alongside a wall towards the imposing wall of Pen-y-Ghent.

The track rolls up hill for nearly 1½ miles climbing steadily and passing through two gates before arriving at a third on the skyline. This is the famous hole in the wall where the route meets the Pennine Way.

Turn left and it is time to tackle the steeper, in places rockier slopes towards the summit of Pen-y-Ghent. There are some places where some mild scrambling is needed (ie hands on) but it does not last and certainly adds interest to the climb.

Finally the path emerges dramatically on to the broad summit plateau of the mountain with a final half mile along the plateau bringing you to the trig point and stone seat at the summit of Pen-y-Ghent. The views are excellent, the mountain to your right is Fountain Fell.

From the summit cross through the wall and instead of taking the obvious track directly ahead turn right, alongside the wall and follow the less obvious path along the summit ridge. The 1½ mile path heads north to a sometimes wet col before climbing more westerly towards the second ‘Dales 30’ summit of the day, Plover Hill. There are no crowds here, you are more likely to get sky larks for company rather than the many walkers who have headed down the traditional, more direct route from Pen-y-Ghent. A stile over a boundary heading north joins a path that soon drops steeply in to the valley below. Before reaching the foot of the valley, turn left on to a more obvious path crosses the slope. This is the Pennine Bridleway, a wonderful long distance route devised by Alfred Wainwright.

Follow the bridleway heading west as it skirts the lower slopes of Plover Hill. It is a peaceful and pleasant route for nearly two miles before arriving at the dramatic Hull Pot, a deep pot hole forged from the limestone bedrock. It is an extraordinary place, particularly if it has been raining and the hole starts to fill. A further 100 metres and there is a major junction of paths.

Those completing the Three Peaks challenge head up the hill to your right but you will continue through a gate and join a farmers track that will head south for 1½ miles back to the village of Horton.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 7.5 miles

Height to Climb: 560m (1,840 feet)

Start: SD 808726. There is a large car park near the bridge in the centre of Horton

Difficulty: Hard. On footpaths and mainly good tracks but a tricky climb with minor scrambling near the summit and a steep descent.

Refreshments: There are two pubs in Horton and the pleasant shop may be selling a tea/coffee. The 3 Peaks café is presently closed.

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.