THE rarely visited Plover Hill is at the north end of the wide ridge of Penyghent, while Halton Gill is a lovely hamlet at the head of Littondale. The two combine for a lovely circular through some remote countryside.

The drive along Littondale to the start of the walk at Halton Gill is beautiful. Arncliffe and Litton villages were both used in the most recent series of All Creatures Great and Small.

On arrival in Halton Gill there is some limited parking on the road side from where the walk starts. It is worth having a quick wander around this attractive hamlet, a mix of cottages and real life farming. From the parking area continue along the road as it heads further up the dale to the far point at Foxup. Foxup is another attractive hamlet with the pack horse bridge dating back to the 17th century.

At the bridge a farm track (marked as a bridleway) heads uphill on the left. The track passes through a small field before entering a longer one. On walking for a further 200m a less obvious track to your right passes through the wall and enters open countryside.

The route now climbs steadily and then contours along the southern side of the upper dale, heading south initially and then west. It is part of the Pennine Journey long distance path, a route devised by Alfred Wainwright in the dark day before the Second World War. The part track/part path is followed for nearly two miles from Foxup and passes through five more gates. This is remote country.

After the fifth gate a path on your left heads directly up the mountain side in a southerly direction. Take it. The path becomes steadily steeper until it passes through a wide gap in a dry stone wall. From here the path climbs steeply for 100m through a limestone scar. It sounds worse than it is. Where the path meets a wall on your left the slope flattens out and it is a pleasant 350m stroll to a meeting of walls. This is not the summit however, turn left along the wall and head east for 150m to another meeting of wall. On your right the wall has partially collapsed, cross here and walk the few metres to the small cairn which marks the summit of Plover Hill. Plover Hill is one of the Dales 30, usually visited as an extension from Penyghent, but this is a much better way of appreciating this spectacular spot.

To descend keep to the south side of the wall and follow it on a faint path heading east and downhill. It is never steep and keep the wall to your left and in view and you should not go wrong. The wall is an excellent handrail. After ¾ a mile the wall turns south. Continue to follow it, passing through another wall as it drops towards the dale floor. As you approach the road at a cattle grid (872745) it flattens and becomes a little wetter. On meeting the road turn left and follow it for 1 ½ miles back to Halton Gill, particularly pleasing are the lovely views on the descent over Upper Littondale.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 7 1/2 miles

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

Start: SD 881765. Park on the roadside in Halton Gill.

Difficulty: Difficult. There is some remote and in places quite rough walking.

Eat and Drink: The short drive to the Queen’s Arms in Litton is worthwhile.

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 (essential on this walk). 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 2 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). All 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 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs