Weekend Walk: Giggleswick Scar & Schoolboy Tower

Looking across Ribblesdale from the route
Looking across Ribblesdale from the route
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Giggleswick Scar is a long limestone edge forming part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s southern boundary.

On it stands Schoolboy Tower, perhaps the most famous cairn in the Dales. It is so-named because of the centuries-old tradition of pupils from nearby Giggleswick School, founded in 1507, climbing the Scar to add a rock to the huge mound. It was once a well-built structure, but weather damage has left it looking dilapidated. A smaller cairn on its west side is known as Schoolgirl Tower and dates from the 1970s when the school became co-educational. The limestone cliffs and the now-closed Giggleswick Quarry are the haunt of peregrines, kestrels and jackdaws.

Giggleswick Quarry

Giggleswick Quarry

1. From Settle Market Place walk past the Royal Oak, keeping to the south side of the road. Go beneath the railway bridge, cross the River Ribble and continue round a bend to pass Settle College. Turn left down Belle Hill into the centre of Giggleswick and at the bottom turn right on Church Street. Turn right again on Mill Hill Lane and walk past Giggleswick School.

2. Turn left at a converted barn and follow the marked public footpath across Settle golf course. Turn right on the access road to Huntworth Farm and follow it up to the B6480. Turn left and walk uphill to Buck Haw Brow.

3. Opposite Scar Top go through a gate, beyond a small parking area, and follow the bridleway uphill through a gap in Giggleswick Scar. On reaching a wall above, look for a footpath going sharp right and follow it along the top of the limestone escarpment, bearing left at a fork beyond a wall.

4. As the path approaches Giggleswick Quarry go right to visit Schoolgirl Tower and the much larger Schoolboy Tower. Taking care on the rocks, return to the main path which accompanies a fence above the Quarry. Go left to follow the fence, then a wall, to find a good track which zigzags down to a metal gate into Lord’s Wood.

Schoolboy Tower

Schoolboy Tower

5. Follow the clear path and track as it descends through trees and bends right to eventually join a residential street called The Mains. At the end, turn left and follow the road back into Settle.

Difficulty rating: 3 stars.

Distance: 5 miles

Time: 2½ hours

Maps: OS Explorer OL41 (1:25000) Forest of Bowland & Ribblesdale

Parking: Settle.

Public transport: Settle is served by direct trains from Leeds and Skipton, and by buses between Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale. For times visit www.traveline.info or call 0871 2002233.

Refreshments: Settle and Giggleswick.