A couple of weeks ago, I hit the road on my debut jaunt to a Sykes’ holiday home – destination: the Yorkshire Dales. Suffice to say, I had a great time, and thought I’d share some memories of my trip with you.
Pen-y-ghent, Settle & the mighty Indian
Approaching the peak of Pen-y-ghent
Being in Three Peaks country, I thought it only right to scale at least one of these fabled hillocks. As our cottage (the delightful Harber Scar – pictured below) was in the shadow of Pen-Y-Ghent, this was the obvious choice for our hike.
Six buckets of sweat later, we made it to the summit
I don’t pretend to be Ranulph Fiennes; can only watch agog at the intrepid Tour De France cyclists; and am intimidated by the do-or-die nature of Bear Grylls – but I’m not out of shape. I dabble in running, enjoy a walk, and take the bike out for a regular blast. That said, hiking Pen-y-ghent nearly killed me. I sweated like a mule from the first to last mile, but as the pictures demonstrate, it was well worth it.
The route we took was a 6.1 mile circuit (I know, six miles – sounds easy, right?) The trail left Horton-in-Ribblesdale via the Pennine Way, before rising at a seemingly 45 degree angle up the western slope of Pen-y-ghent. For the first mile or so the peak was shrouded in low cloud, but before long the sun burnt a hole, and we were granted a beautiful – albeit, intimidating – view of the approaching bluff.
At the summit, the vista was stunning. Cloud had spread through the valley, but we could see the other peaks of Ingleborough and Whernside, as well as the distant Cumbrian fells. Only God gets a better view.
For anyone staying in the Ribblehead Valley, conquering at least one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks is a must. Remember: if me and my 50+ Dad can do it, you can too.
That afternoon, we discovered that the market town of Settle is the ideal place to regain your composure after an intense hill-climb. With a plethora of cafes, pubs and independent shops, it’s easy to while away an afternoon amongst the town’s cobbled byways. Later, we ate at one of Settle’s two Indian restaurants, Royal Spice, which was delicious and inexpensive. But be warned: they don’t have an alcohol license, so it’s BYO, tea or a glass of pop only.
Waterfalls, fog & the prettiest viaduct in England
After an exceptionally good night’s kip in our ever-so-cosy cottage, we drove to Ingleton to tackle the village’s highly-regarded waterfalls walk. Despite being pricey (£6 per adult) we felt we couldn’t miss this supposedly “enchanting” and “magical” visitor attraction – and were pleased we didn’t.
Pecca Falls, Ingleton Waterfalls Trail
The walk is just over four miles, and begins a short way from the centre of the village. After passing a densely wooded stream, the path ascends purpose-built steps and leads you to the first proper cascade of the walk, Pecca Falls. What follows is a sequence of modest waterfalls which climb steeply through the woodland. At this point, fog began to spill into the valley, adding a mystical element to what was already an extraordinary walk.
At the valley summit lies Thornton Force, easily the most impressive fall on the route. Here, the River Twiss drops fourteen-metres from a limestone cliff, throwing up a mist you can feel from fifty-feet away. Further along the trail you’ll reach Baxengyhll Gorge, where the river is forced down a narrow channel. The roar of the water is quite remarkable here, and there’s a well-placed viewing bridge where the fearless can take a peek at the torrent twenty metres below.
The circular route brings you back to the village, where the hungry will be drawn to the pervading smell of fish and chips. When all is said, the Ingleton Waterfall Trail is a stimulating hike; just be sure to check the weather before your visit as fog can really spoil the view.
Walk over; we headed for some sustenance at The Railway Inn, whose car park overlooks the Ribblehead Viaduct. Built in the 19th century, the bridge – which carries the famous Settle-Carlisle railway – is a grand old thing, and was a big hit with the amateur photographers who’d planted their tripods along the opposing dry-stone wall. With Whernside to the left of you and Ingleborough to the right, the panorama here is simply staggering. Visit as soon as possible.
Harber Scar – putting the ‘osy’ in ‘cosy’
Putting aside the scenery, the walks and the eating, the highlight of our trip was undoubtedly our cottage, Harber Scar. Charming and characterful both inside and out, Harber Scar offers a cosy, comfortable and refreshingly-no-frills base for a break beneath the Three Peaks. The property is chock-a-block with original period features; its doorframes are laughably low, its beds are irresistibly comfortable, and its roaring log burner ever-so cushty. I’d recommend the cottage to anyone, particularly if they plan to spend some time trekking the Three Peaks.
Think you could conquer the Three Peaks? Or just fancy taking in the sights? Then check out our cottages to rent in the Yorkshire Dales.
Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.