Ingleborough Walks are a series of ten walks in the stunning part of the Yorkshire Dales that have been put together in a free leaflet, says countryside campaigner, Colin Speakman

WHEN the Friends of DalesBus and the Yorkshire Dales Society’s Dales and Bowland Community Interest Company were first consulted about the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s exciting HLF-funded Stories in Stone project in the Ingleborough Area, their initial response was that it was vital to make everything that was happening in this part of the national park equally available to everyone, not just people fortunate enough to have access to a car. In fact, for the Ingleborough area this isn’t such a challenge.

With two very important and high profile rural railways serving the area, the Settle-Carlisle line, with stations at Settle, Horton -in- Ribblesdale and Ribblehead, and the Leeds-Lancaster “Bentham” line with handy stations at Giggleswick and Clapham, regular daily trains provide excellent access. Less well known is the Craven Connection 580/581 bus service – supported by North Yorkshire County Council. It provides an hourly Monday to Saturday service from Skipton to Settle but every two hours (581) serving key villages that are also perfect start or finishing points for walks - Austwick, Clapham and Ingleton. On Sundays until September 24, additional Dalesbus services, such as the 830-which links Ingleton, Ribblehead and Hawes, also bring people in from a wider area.

But we felt that public transport is important not just for people who don’t have access to a car, but because it offers drivers the perfect opportunity to explore Ingleborough massif and surrounding foothills in a different way, not restricted to circular walks from a parked vehicle, but by taking linear, point to point walks, heading north to south, or east to west across the mountain plateau. By parking near a rail station or bus stop, it is perfectly possible to take the train or bus to an outward point and then enjoy as much time as you need for example across or along the great ridge of Ingleborough. So, a project idea was submitted, carefully designed to meet HLF’s stringent guidelines, not just to promote the train or bus as a way of reaching the area the area, but to encourage walkers to traverse the mountain or its shoulders in that different way - to park, ride a bus or train and then walk back to their vehicle. And maybe for that second visit to leave the car at home to enjoy to a new sense of liberation. Several DalesBus and FoSCL volunteers were recruited to research, write, photograph, design and produce ten suitable selected walks through the Ingleborough area, soon dubbed “Ingleborough Walks”. Each walk starts and finishes at either a rail station or a bus stop, but also offers motorists the chance to safely park, say in Ingleton or Settle, take the bus or train to an outward point and then walk back to the vehicle or a well-timed return bus or train. By ending walks in larger villages or in the case of Ribblehead, a hamlet with at least a pub, there is usually time for refreshment if waiting for return transport. Route lengths vary from around six to nine miles, but all are “walkers’ walks” requiring some experience as they often use steep and rugged paths, sometimes climbing to wild places, but that is the nature of Ingleborough. All use public rights of way or short sections of well-defined public access land.

The views, and changing landscapes each of the ten walks go through, are simply superb. Wherever possible, the authors have kept away from the over trodden and overcrowded Yorkshire Three Peaks Walk, though one or two of the routes must use short sections to get where they need to. There is an immense variety of landscape from parkland and meadow around Clapham or Colt Park, to rugged areas of limestone pavement, ancient green tracks, steep pastures, and for three walks, the summit of Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire’s great landmarks and viewpoints.

The series of ten leaflets aim to encourage and inspire walkers with a brief route description, outline transport information (exact times which can change, need to be sourced with current timetables or on line) and a sketch map all on a single side of A4 and designed to be used with the Outdoor Leisure Map OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western Areas.

Amazingly, the set of leaflets are totally free of charge. As funding is coming from the Heritage Lottery, the idea is to benefit everyone, to encourage people without access to a car to come by train and bus, or for those with a car, to take advantage of the train or bus for part of their journey. Even making a small charge would generate bureaucracy and accountancy, and reduce availability. They can be found in railway stations or Visitor Centres in Skipton, Settle, Ribblehead, and Ingleton, either singly from a leaflet rack or in a pre-packed cellophane set. People have been so delighted by them, they have offered to pay, so it has been suggested that a small donation ether to the Yorkshire Dale Millennium Trust – who do so much excellent conservation work for the Dales - or the Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) would be very appropriate. Alternatively, they can be obtained from the Yorkshire Dales Society (A5 “large letter” stamped addressed envelope appreciated) at The Wharfe, Eshton Road, Gargrave, BD23 3PN. Or you can download and print them as PDFs from the Settle Carlisle Development Company’s web site : click on Walks then Walks from the S&C Line.