Weekend Walk: Penyghent from Dale Head

Climbing Penyghent by the Dale Head path
Climbing Penyghent by the Dale Head path
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On maps Penyghent is written as Pen-y-ghent or Pen-Y-Ghent but many prefer Alfred Wainwright’s unhyphenated style.

At 2,277ft the summit is the highest point on the Pennine Way. But while Penyghent is the lowest of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks it presents the most striking profile, especially when seen from Dale Head, our starting and finishing point. This walk is often missing from Yorkshire Dales guidebooks because it’s not circular and lies well away from public transport connections, but for many people it is the best way of climbing Penyghent, providing the shortest possible path to the summit whilst offering the excitement of a little bit of rock scrambling. If you are lucky you may see and hear ravens around Penyghent’s sheer outcrops.

Penyghent seen from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Penyghent seen from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

1. From the parking area at the side of the road to the east of a cattle grid, walk back along the road and cross the grid. Turn right to follow the Pennine Way through the yard of Dale Head farm to arrive at the deep sinkhole of Churn Milk Hole on the left.

2. Turn right here to follow the clear signposted path towards Penyghent, now shown in impressive profile. The path leaves the track to continue on duckboards over eroded and wet areas of moorland. Eventually, walk with a wall on your left to two large ladder stiles, which is where a path comes up from Brackenbottom and Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

3. Walk past the stiles to commence the main ascent of Penyghent. There is some exposed scrambling which requires a high level of agility. The route is made obvious by worn rocks, but do not wander too far to the right. The path emerges on a much gentler gradient and it is an easy walk to the summit trig point.

4. Retrace steps away from the summit by following the wall back to the rock scramble. Bear in mind that this section requires more care when descending. Once back at the ladder stiles follow the wall down to join the duckboards and continue to the Dale Head track. Back on the Stainforth-Halton Gill road, turn left to cross the cattle grid and return to the parking area.

Difficulty rating: 4 stars

Distance: 4 miles

Hours: 2 hours

Map: OS Explorer (1:25000) OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas, or OS Landranger (1:50000) 98 Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale.

Parking: Roadside spaces, Dale Head, on Stainforth to Halton Gill road, off B6479 from Settle. Grid ref SD 84 3714; closest satnav BD24 9PW.

Public transport: None.

Refreshments: Stainforth, Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Toilets: Horton-in-Ribblesdale