THE Settle to Carlisle Railway is a wonderful asset to the area, not only is it a lovely line, but for the walker seeking out new routes, a great asset. In this walk, alight from Ribblehead, walk over Ingleborough to gain the train again at Horton Station.

Arrive at Ribblehead station and walk to the road opposite the Station Inn. If you have not yet visited the famous viaduct it is definitely worth the extra half a mile to stand under one of the 24 arches. I was interested to find recently every sixth arch is 50 per cent thicker as a precaution against one of the others failing. The Victorians thought of everything.

From the cross roads just below the Station Inn walk, turn right along the road towards Horton for three-quarters of a mile and take the lane to your right. The lane climbs steadily towards the farmyard at Colt Park, past an area of attractive limestone woodland. At the end of the lane, follow the footpath to the north/right side of the wall and after 300 metres on to the open hillside. At this stage there is no avoiding the steep 500ft climb south west that has been dominating the views to the right since arriving at Ribblehead, it is hard work. The trig point of Park Hill affords some excellent views over the viaduct towards Whernside. Return to the boundary wall and follow it south west for one mile in a generally southerly direction, initially down hill, but then climbing steadily on to the broad, sometimes wet, plateau of Simon Fell. Simon Fell’s cairn is just over the wall at the high point of the plateau, one of the lesser visited “Dales 30” mountains.

From the cairn follow the wall heading just south of west, making a beeline for the summit of Ingleborough. The wall retains its height until it meets a large stile on your right and the meeting with an obvious path from the south, part of the main Three Peaks route. Join this renovated path up the Swine Tail before popping out on the flat, 300 metres-long summit plateau of Ingleborough, the best of the Three Peaks. The large cairn, cross shelter and trig are at the western/far side of the plateau. It can be a confusing place in the mist but with outstanding 360 degree views in clear weather.

In bad weather it is best to follow the northern rim of the plateau heading east to the large standing stone marking the exit point, the same point where you arrived. After 50 metres descending the rocky path it splits. You arrived on the left fork, but take the right fork and scramble down the path to flatter lands. The full descent from here to Horton is part of the Challenge route and therefore is easy to follow, heading east like a beeline for the distant village. It is four-and-a-half miles from summit to village. Initially the path skirts Simon Fell to the north, through a stile and down to a small gate which marks a change of scenery. This is the Ingleborough Nature Reserve, possibly the best area of limestone pavements in England. Pick your way down Sulber Nick with a small scar on either side. A large information board marks the end of the nature reserve and from then the path picks its way through the final three-quarters of a mile of rolling farmland till a small gate leads back to the station at Horton.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 9.5 miles.

Height to Climb: 550m (1,800 feet).

Start: SD 765789. Arrive at Ribblehead station and return from Horton. It is possible to also leave a car at Horton and take the train for just one stop to Ribblehead, returning over Ingleborough to your start.

Difficulty: Hard: A steep climb up Simon Fell and a long descent through the limestone pavements which can be slippy after rain and when wet.

Refreshments: Horton has two pubs but the Three Peaks café is still 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 (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 based 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. Next available date June 18th.

• Leisurely guided walks up Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. Next dates are in July

Jonathan’s popular website, also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs