Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales is a peak that I often head to to blow the cobwebs away. Standing at 2,277 feet (694 m) it is the lowest and first of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks so as I do that often, it is nice sometimes to head here to climb it on its own and take in every step.
Of course every season and weather condition makes every walk here completely different. This time there had been a snow overnight and blue skies where out. Perfect to head to Pen-y-ghent for some fresh air and miles.
I love a circular route and this one is a great 6 miles starting in the village of Horton in Ribblesdale. At the time of writing there is the main pay and display parking in the centre. But especially in quiet times the local pubs etc let you use their car park for around £2 via a honesty box.
Due to the fact that Horton is not huge and this is the start for both the Yorkshire 3 peaks as well as Pen-y-ghent I would always advise getting there early to avoid parking disapointments.
This is a view back over the valley to a wintry Ingleborough, another favourite. You get this view on a clear day almost as soon as you start walking up pen-y-ghent itself. Glorious.
The best way to get on the right path up is to head to the church which is on the main road through the village, the B6479. Facing the church you see a gate to a field on the left of it. Go through, cross this field and out the other side. Turn left for a few metres, cross the wooden bridge, turn left again and follow the lane. Then after a few hundred metres up this lane you see a signpost left saying Pen-y-ghent and Yorkshire 3 peaks. This is the path up and up.
It is a steady climb up through fields and through gates. The snow was getting deeper and deeper as the altitude got higher. The dogs were loving every minute running and jumping around. Tired me out just watching them.
Before you know it you pass through a gate where you join the Pennine way. The summit you want is unmistakably on the left. If you want to do this walk in winter I would advise at least having hiking grip studs. The snow is light and fluffy at the bottom perhaps but up here it has turned to sheer ice as people have walked over the wet snow.
In the summer the section to the top is a light scramble and a jaunt. But even with this little snow and ice it is a scramble where you could easily slip. Take care.
After the fun on the rocks the top opens up with a clear steady path up to the top. Here you see that getting out is completely worth it. Yorkshire views and hills for miles and miles. I find it so exhilarating to be up on a mountain in winter. Even more so with a cold fresh air and blue skies. The contrasts with the white winter setting is amazing.
The top was really busy when we got there. It is a popular walk and climb as I have said. Even in these conditions. Malc still had time for his trig point pose though of course.
From the top you can either come the way you came or carry on a circular. Basically head through the gap in the wall and head straight on and down, the other side. It is a wide well trodden path.
As I was leaving the summit I caught some paragliders enjoying their time up there. Great setting with Ingleborough in the background!
Halfway down there was the signpost I pause by when doing the 3 peaks. A spot where having just done the first you see the other two, Whernside and Ingleborough, either side of a sign showing the way ahead, to the right then left respectively.
As you go down and it starts to level out you will come to a junction that is straight on for 3 peaks and left, down a track/bridleway into the village to complete the circular.
Along here you get some magnificent views back of Pen-y-ghent. You can see almost every turn you have taken.
Before long you are back down in the village and ready for a nice warm drink. Winter walks give me so many good memories for the charming difference to the greens at other times. Refreshing cold air, sun and snow. Also it creates more unique memories of a day well spent.
Of course Pete and Malc, my trusty companions loved it too!
Distance: 6 miles
Download GPX of this walk – click here
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
Parking: Postcode BD24 0HF
A large pay and display car park in the middle of Horton-in-Ribblesdale.