Pen-y-Ghent – Yorkshires 3 Peaks

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Walk with a camera over Pen-y-ghent
one of the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks

My articles concentrate on the photography, but I include a description of the walk here – please walk within your experience and fitness.

This walk requires some fitness, however reaching the lower fells via ‘Vicarage Track’ is achievable by most people.

If you don’t manage to get the pictures you want on the day, don’t worry – this is a walk you can happily repeat.

Penyghent winter
The long haul from Brackenbottom to Penyghent in winter conditions
Day 1
Camera

Weight can dictate the camera choice for keen photographers.

The images on this site have been collected together over the years and all list the camera and settings used, however my choice for the trip would be an Olympus OMD-1 mk2 micro four thirds camera, with either a choice of lenses or a mid range telephoto zoom.

This camera can give unbelievably good images, is relatively light and small compared to a full frame DSLR. YOU may however think it is worth carrying the extra weight.

The best advice I can give is to invest in a lightweight, small tripod. Having a tripod available means that your use of settings is not dictated by speed relating to hand holding.

I would also strongly suggest graduated filters. We are talking ‘big sky’ images and being able to better expose your images for the scenery without skies being over exposed is a big step forward. A far more elegant and professional way of managing this issue without resorting to HDR and Photoshop. If you are using wide lenses make sure circular filters will not fringe your image …. why not use square filters?

Day 2
Lenses

Day 3
Outdoor Equipment

Waterproof
Warm ‘layers’ to adjust your temperature
Good boots and gaiters
Food and drink
Warm hat and gloves
Comfortable rucksack
First Aid kit
Map, Compass and ability to use them
Torch and whistle
Follow the MRC guidance for walkers>>

  • Horton Church is a great photographic subject
  • Look out for the ‘Blue Lagoon’ which can be seen beyond Horton village when looking from the top of Pen-y-ghent. This is a pool below one of the quarries
  • Hull Pot which lies beyond the top of Vicarage Track is a large open pot-hole. In wet weather make sure you have ND Filters for those long exposures of the waterfall
  • The 3 peaks walk takes in Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. The walk is an arduous 24 miles with long descents and ascents – you are doing very well to cover it in less than 12 hours

penygent map

Turn right out of the car park and follow the road past the Tourist Information Centre and the Post Office. The road bends round to the left at the Golden Lion Hotel and straight away round the bend there are two side roads. Turn down the second road that has a school sign at its junction. From this junction, you get the first real view of what lies ahead. Pen-y-ghent lies imposingly straight ahead. Carrying on up the lane past the primary school, the lane slowly gains height and bends round to the right as it approaches Brackenbottom Farm. Immediately before the farm, turn left at the wooden signpost claiming “Pen-y-ghent Summit 1¾ miles” through a wooden gate.

Thirty yards further on, climb the stile and immediately turn left following a very well trodden footpath up the side of the wall. Remember though that the early months of the year are lambing times and dogs must be kept under very close control preferably on a lead. Sheep and lambs are very evident in the fields in the early parts of the climb. Whilst progressing up the first field, even though Pen-y-ghent may disappear from view, the more height gained affords a splendid panoramic view behind of Horton, Ingleborough and Whernside.

Path just prior to meeting Pennine Way

Continue on up the hill closely following the wall until you meet a second wall that intersects the first at right angles. Climb over the stile built into the wall and continue onwards in the same direction following the undulating path which is slowly gaining height. Continue over the next stile built into another intersecting wall and again carry on in the same direction heading for the right-hand corner of Pen-y-ghent. From here the whole of Pen-y-ghent comes into view. Continuing over a wooden stile, the path bends a little to the left before returning to its original line again following the wall. Shortly after the next double stile is passed, a man-made flight of stairs is climbed to reach the stile where the Pennine Way is joined.

View upwards from stile

Turning left over this stile, the climb now really starts in earnest. Whilst the path upwards may not be clearly visible from this stile, by progressing further up, the path unfolds. The path now rises very steeply and becomes less distinct, with the most distinct one skirting the grassy edge and coming back round a little to the left to pass in front of a large almost vertical crag. Keeping straight ahead (a little scrambling may be necessary) the path briefly flattens before another very steep and rocky climb marked by cairns. Towards the top of this a little scrambling may again be necessary, before the path gradient flattens dramatically and returns to being very well defined. The path runs almost parallel twenty yards to the right of a wall and slowly rises for the final few minutes walk until the trig point is reached.

View of Hunt Pot next to path down

Over the wooden stile a few metres from the trig point, a sign points in the three main directions down from the top (Dale Head, Horton and Foxup) with the Horton path the one to follow (walking away from the wall). The path snakes downwards and then turns to the right to follow the edge of a steep cliff. Down to the left the path home can be clearly seen with Hunt and Hull Pots also visible. The path continues downwards following the edge of the cliff until the sign is reached where the path takes a sharp left.

Stream at entrance to Hunt Pot

Vertical drop into Hunt Pot

The path straight on here is one of the Three Peaks routes (see separate walk). Follow the path around and down to the left. Continue on down this well defined path and over the stile on the wall. After about fifty metres a little detour can be made. Twenty metres off the path to the left lies Hunt Pot where a stream disappears into a hollow in the ground. Do not get too close though as the hollow is a two hundred foot vertical shaft.

View of Hull Pot

Old river course into Hull Pot

Returning to the main path, negotiate the next double stile and a few yards further on a path comes in from the right, whilst the way home is down Horton Scar Lane to the left. Before entering the lane, a very impressive detour can be undertaken by walking for about five hundred metres in the opposite direction following the Foxup sign. If it is misty it is advisable to stick closely to the wall on the right as Hull Pot is a huge, steep sided crater nearly one hundred metres long and fifteen metres deep. The crater is a very impressive sight after heavy rain, when waterfalls are formed over its side.

Return back to the lane entrance and go through the gate in the direction of the signpost “BW Horton in R 1¼”. Proceed down the walled lane, and straight on through a gate. As the houses of Horton come into view where the lane bends sharp left, the car park is visible straight ahead. Continue until a junction is reached, follow the right-hand fork down to the main road. Turn right and follow the road for the final few yards back around to the car park.

Do's

  • Set off early - allow time for your photography and beat other walkers on to the hill.
  • Make sure you can stay warm and dry.
  • Ensure you are confident with map reading and navigation.
  • Take a torch, whistle and map
  • Let people know where you are going
  • If you need help on the 3 peaks: call 999 and ask for the Police (not an ambulance). Tell the Police where you are and ask for Mountain Rescue. Stay where your phone remains in contact so that the rescue team can call you back.

Don't

  • Underestimate the conditions or daylight
  • Although signals are generally good, don't rely on a mobile phone

The whole walk lies within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and uses public rights of way, the higher fells being open access with the right-to-roam.

  • 6.6 miles (10.6 Km)
  • 3 – 4 hours
  • Use sat Nav BD24 0HF
  • Grid Reference for start SD 807 726
  • Height 2,277 feet (694 m)

Questions and Answers

Do mobile phones work in the area

I know that EE and Vodafone work well generally, however there are black spots

Is this route open to people with disabilities?

The steep section on the ascent from Brackenbottom is a rocky scramble, however walking up Vicarage Lane is achievable with difficulty.

Are there guides who can take us on the walk?

Yes. I am happy providing photographic guiding and YorkshireDalesGuides.co.uk can provide professional mountain guides

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Pen-y-Ghent – Yorkshires 3 Peaks

Trip Facts

  • Yorkshire Dales
  • One of Yorkshire’s 3 Peaks