A great way for walkers to use the Settle-Carlisle railway line is to alight at one station and catch a train back from another.
This walk begins from Ribblehead, allowing good views of the famous Ribblehead viaduct, and soon joins a stretch of the 73-mile Ribble Way southwards to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Features along the route include a fine packhorse bridge over Thorns Gill, a continuation of Gayle Beck, and the long-abandoned hamlet of Thorns. The path beyond here is boggy in places before good surfaces are thankfully encountered at Nether Lodge, and the final stretch downhill to Horton is on an old track carrying the Pennine Way. Motorists can park at Ribblehead and at the end of the walk take a train back to their starting point. In winter few birds other than carrion crows and jackdaws will be encountered. In spring and summer curlews, oystercatchers, lapwings and wheatears are present.
1. Leave Ribblehead station by walking north on the access track and turn right on the B6255 Ingleton-Hawes road. Walk with care along the road, passing the B6479 turnoff to Settle, and continue past a barn on the right to find a signposted footpath to Nether Lodge. Follow a wall downhill to cross an old packhorse bridge over Thorns Gill and bear left on an indistinct path to the abandoned hamlet of Thorns.
2. Walk through the ruins and continue uphill, accompanied by a wall on your left. Follow this path to a barn and immediately past it turn left to cross the wall and pick up a muddy path bearing left away from the wall. The path is intermittent on the ground as it passes through a boggy area and aims towards the farm of Nether Lodge.
3. With some relief, meet a farm track and turn left to follow it past Nether Lodge and cross the bridge over Cam Beck. Continue on this clear path to meet the road above High Birkwith and turn left. A few minutes up the road turn sharp right on a path signposted to Sell Gill.
4. Follow it into a dip and on the other side continue on a lovely grassy terrace. The obvious route crosses a succession of ladder stiles and keeps to higher ground above Scale Farm and Top Farm.
6. At a ruined barn go through a gate to its right, continue through a broken wall and turn left to a ladder stile. On the other side go right to continue on a track round a wall to find an obvious route past Sell Gill Beck. The track eventually descends to the Crown Hotel, Horton-in-Ribblesdale. From here continue ahead over a bridge and on a bend keep straight on past houses to Horton station.
Difficulty rating: 3 stars
Distance: 7 1/2 miles
Time: 3 1/2 hours
Maps: OS Landranger (1:50000) 98 Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale, or OS Explorer (1:25000) OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas.
Parking: Ribblehead (east side of B6479 and B6255 junction)
Public transport: Ribblehead and Horton-in-Ribblesdale are on the Settle-Carlisle line served by trains from Leeds and Skipton. For times visit www.settle-carlisle.co.uk or phone Traveline on 0871 2002233 (charges apply)
Refreshments: Ribblehead; Horton-in-Ribblesdale