A strenuous walking challenge, arranged by my wife's brother, George.
We stayed in a lodge near the quiet little hamlet of Gisburn, on the main road (A59) from Skipton to Clitheroe. The village boasts a number of nice pubs and a couple of excellent restaurants. After a first class meal at the La Locanda Italian Restaurant, on the first night in the village, I decided to walk back to the lodge across the fields. However, I experienced a very uneasy feeling as I walked down a dark alley, near to the White Bull Inn, as if someone, or something, was following me. Researching the area later I discovered that the old house I passed (at the entrance to the alley) is notoriously haunted!
Just behind the White Bull is the gated entrance to Ribblesdale Park (the hall of which is now a private hospital). The gateway is flanked by two ornate lodges, from where a footpath leads through the estate, and down to Gisburne Hall by the river. To reach the hall you need to pass over a quirky railway tunnel with impressive castellated entrance towers at each end. The tunnel was actually constructed by Lord Ribblesdale to stop the noisy trains from scaring his horses. The Blackburn to Hellifield line passes through the tunnel and is still used on occasions by heritage steam trains. The resident horses in the fields above still seem to be very happy with this arrangement.
A number of other pleasant walks pass through the area, namely the Ribble Way (a 70 mile long distance path), follow the River Ribble from its source to the sea. I took the opportunity to trace the path for several miles each side of Gisburn during my stay.
We left for Horton in Ribblesdale early the next morning and parked on the outskirts of the village. As I am not a used to such long distance walking, especially hill walking, I decided (very wisely) to tackle just the first part of the walk, from Horton in Ribblesdale to the Ribblehead Viaduct (a distance of about 10 miles).
View of the village church and Golden Lion Hotel, Horton in Ribblesdale
This section covers the first peak Pen-Y-Ghent. As we approached Pen-Y-Ghent it was shrouded in a layer of drifting mist that seemed to grow thicker as we climbed the rocky path towards it. There is a particularly steep climb nearer to the peak that seems never ending. Every time you reached what you think is the top, there appears to be yet another rock face to climb!
Once we reached the peak (on hands and knees) sadly the thick mist engulfed us, along with the view. However, once we started walking down the other side the mist cleared away exposing some of the most breathtaking scenery across the dales. This section of the walk also follows the Pennine Way for several miles and passes by some very interesting limestone rock formations.
After a spot lunch, sitting by the Ribblehead Viaduct, I left the other walkers to soldier-on and went for a leisurely drive with Susanne to the quaint little town of Hawes. Hawes is lovely place for a day visit. The main street is lined with quaint little shops, pubs and tea rooms. A little further down the hill, in the older part of the village, the river (Gayle Beck) tumbles over rocks and water falls between the stone built houses. There is an interesting museum in the old station house at the bottom of the hill and a Rope Makers, where you can stand and watch ropes being made using the old traditional methods.
Although we drove through Settle in order to reach Horton, unfortunately we did not have enough time to stop and take a good look around. The main attraction of interest in the town is the heritage Settle to Carlisle railway line that runs through the centre of the town, crossing several viaducts and bridges. The line runs a regular heritage diesel and steam train services. One of the highlights of the three peaks walk was the occasional glimpse of a steam train running along the line. In fact we enjoyed watching the 2 O'clock from Settle to Carlisle steam across the Ribblehead Viaduct whilst eating our lunch on the day of the walk.
As you drive into Clitheroe you can't miss the old Norman Castle towering above the town. Parking under the castle's lee we walked up the hill into the main shopping area. There many old buildings of interest in the town centre but the castle is by far the most impressive and one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire. The climb to the top is very exhilarating, affording fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. There is a very nice cafe just behind the castle, where of course we enjoyed our customary tea and slice of cake. If you enjoy walking the River Ribble pathway and nearby Pendle Hill are worth visiting.
Harrogate is one of our most favourite Yorkshire destinations and we always drop-in on our way up (or down) when travelling north. The town has a lovely open and spacious feel, with an excellent choice of shops. The highlight of our visit is always the Valley gardens, which must be one of the best kept town parks in the UK, outside of London.
If you want tea at Betty's then it is best to go early in the day before the queues build-up. We managed to get a table straight away around 11am to enjoy our customary tea and cake.
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