Pen-y-Ghent: The Yorkshire Dales mountain likened to a crouching lion

Pen-y-Ghent. Picture by James Hardisty
Pen-y-Ghent. Picture by James Hardisty
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It was July of 1887 when two Giggleswick schoolmasters reached the top of Pen-y-Ghent. Theirs was the first recorded ascent of the Yorkshire Dales fell as part of the Three Peaks challenge.

But in the 130 years that have passed since, tens of thousands have followed in their footsteps.

Two walkers are pictured here, as they too head for the summit, making their way along a stone track after leaving the picturesque village of Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

It is the typical starting mark for many of those who take on the mountains of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent, though it is possible to begin at other points on the route, provided a full circuit is completed.

The target time is said to be 12 hours, but those Gigglewick teachers, R. Wynne-Edwards and D.R. Smith, completed the walk in ten and given the combined ascent of some 7,000ft, the three peaks are a challenge to be reckoned with regardless of timescale.

With a summit of 2,277ft, Pen-y-Ghent, once the haunt of red deer, is the smallest of the climbs. Since the 1950s and 60s, the mountain has not only been popular with walkers, but with runners and cyclists too, with the annual three peaks cyclo-cross and fell race events attracting people from all over the country.

It is a prominent part of the local landscape too, offering, on a clear day, views over the luscious greenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to those who reach the top.

According to the Dales’ National Park Authority, its stepped, domed outline also attracts attention and “has led people to describe it as being like a crouching lion or shaped like the prow of a boat”.

On the fell’s western side sit two further distinguishing features - the Hunt Pot and Hull Pot caverns. The latter, a hole an impressive 60ft deep and 300ft long, is made even more spectacular in wet weather if Hull Pot Beck runs over the rim to create a waterfall - true Yorkshire beauty.

Technical details: Camera Nikon D5, Lens Nikon 24-70mm, Shutter Speed 1/250sec, Aperture f/8.0, ISO 400.