The Delights of Pen-y-ghent.

Start. Horton in Ribblesdale.

Route. Horton in Ribblesdale - Pennine Way- Sell Gill Hole - Whitbar Hill - Hull Pot - Hunt Pot - Pen-y-ghent - Brackenbottom Scar - Brackenbottom - Horton in Ribblesdale.

Notes. Another weekend, another wetting, that's what the weather forecast promised for those venturing into the hills, chance of cloud free summits 20%. With that in mind I chanced the slopes of Pen-y-ghent, a walk I could chop and change depending on conditions under foot and the unpredictable British climate. It was time to seek out some of the secret corners, the hidden gems so many walkers stride past without giving a second glance.

Horton in Ribblesdale on a damp saturday afternoon, the place was heaving with walkers intent on the summit of Pen-y-ghent, Horton Scar Lane and the path from Brackenbottom were about to get rather congested, never fear Carlo knows another route, a better route, a quieter trod, far more interesting, the connoisseurs path, but keep it to yourself. From the Crown Inn my route followed the Pennine Way between the dry stone walls of Harber Scar Lane, a steady climb eventually reaching Sell Gill Holes, their presence betrayed by the thunder of falling water, the beck Sell Gill Beck plunges 250ft into an immense cavern. I left the main path following the beck up hill traversing a vast tract of coarse grass and peat, a wonderful green path carried me across the summit of Whitbar Hill, I soon found myself descending to Hull Pot, this steep sided crater will stop you in your tracks, after heavy weather Hull Pot Beck usually a dry stream bed plunges 60ft into the crater.

From Hull Pot my route turned south, a couple of hundred yards easy walking down a dry valley saw me step onto the main path up Pen-y-ghent, this path guided me up hill steep in places, all the while I was hunting for a faint path that leads to Hunt Pot, just a hundred yards off the main path visited by few. I think it was Wainwright who described this as " an evil looking slit" and it is, the beck plunges into a dark world 200ft straight down, get close to the edge and you can feel cold air rising from beneath, but take care the lip is slippery. Back on the main trod and I'm heading for Pen-y-ghent cliffs, when the path swung sharp right I turned left, my destination Pen-y-ghent Pinnacle, a 60ft high needle of limestone detached by erosion from the main cliff, another lonely place worth a visit.

Back on the main path and the final pull to the summit begun, I ascended into mist, the approach to the summit was a blur, squinting through Yorkshire murk to make out the wall that clings to the ridge line, over the wall a trig point, summit cairn and wind shelter, all the comforts you expect to find on the friendly summits of the Dales. I descended on the main path, a couple of easy scrambles over Pen-y-ghent nose followed, passing through a landscape of shattered grit stone and fallen boulders, I soon reached a gate leading onto Gavel Rigg. An easy walk down hill followed, the path guided me through the pastures of Gavel Rigg and Brackenbottom Scar, across exposed limestone scars before depositing me on the narrow lane leading back to Horton in Ribblesdale.

view route map.


Seen from Harber Scar Lane, Pen-y-ghent rises above Brants Gill Head.

Under cloud Whernside seen across upper Ribblesdale.

Sell Gill Holes, the western entrance, the caver's way down, hence the rope, vertical pitches descend 250ft into an immense cavern second only to Gaping Gill.

The eastern entrance with views to the Ingleborough massif.

The eastern entrance the way the water flows.

Ascending Whitbar Hill viewing Simon Fell over Ribblesdale, with Ingleborough under cloud.

Hull Pot, not the best image I took today, there's a small figure above the collapsed north end giving the scene a sense of scale, 100 yards long, 20 yards wide and 60ft deep this is one big hole.

As viewed from the main path at the head of Horton Scar Lane, Pen-y-ghent under cloud.

Hunt Pot only a hundred yards from the main path, occupies a large crater where the beck tumbles over a number of small cascades before falling 200ft into the dark world of the cave explorer.

On the map this beck remains anonymous, lets call it Hunt Pot Beck as that's where it disappears under ground.

Above Hunt Pot looking to Pen-y-ghent, free of cloud at the moment.

Viewing my ascent route from near Pen-y-ghent Pinnacle.

Detached by erosion, some 60ft high Pen-y-ghent Pinnacle.

Even on a grey day like today the views from this row of limestone cliffs is quite stunning, across a desolate landscape, wild and almost unspoilt Ingleborough rises above Ribblesdale.

To the northwest an equally bleak scene, Whernside rising from the head of Ribblesdale.

The meadows of Ribblesdale seen from the final pull to the summit.

Racing moody cloud crosses the vast tract of moss, peat bog and tussock grass between Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

The summit, wet and miserable today but always good to be here, I'll just have to return another day for the views.

Once under the cloud base stunning views down the vast expanse of the Ribble Valley.

Pendle Hill rises from misty lowlands.

Wreather in cloud the moody cliffs on Pen-y-ghent nose.

Huge and eerie rather foreboding for walkers ascending this route, I think there's something magical about cloud dancing across a cliff face.

Descending over Brackenbottom Scar looking back to the hill itself.

Douk Gill emits from a cave in Douk Gill Scar just a ½ mile upstream, it accompanied me back to Horton in Ribblesdale.

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