A Traverse of Moughton.

Start. Horton in Ribblesdale.

Route. Horton in Ribblesdale - Ribble Way - Cragghill Farm - Tinklers Gate - Helwith Bridge - Swarth Moor - Moughton Nab - Moughton Scar - Long Scar - Moughton - Grouse Butts - Sulber - Beecroft - Horton in Ribblesdale Station - Horton in Ribblesdale.

Notes. I've spent many years wandering round Yorkshire's Three Peaks area, seeking out different, more interesting routes on and off the hills. Strangely Moughton's been off my radar, until the other day on Smearsett Scar, I watched in awe two tiny figures climbing what I discovered was Moughton Nab, I swore when the next decent day came along one of those figures would be me. This walk was a little different, Moughton's karst landscape is a melting pot of towering cliffs, bare rock and scree slopes, gorges and limestone pavements. Pathless terrain over moorland grass, a complex mix, to my mind an accident waiting to happen, you could easily break an ankle or leg in a place like this. I planned my route carefully, left a copy at home, for all I knew there was no mobile phone signal up there, I'd have to get myself out of trouble if trouble came my way.

To the affairs of the day, Horton in Ribblesdale better known as the starting point of the three peaks challenge, or one peak challenge if you're just bagging Pen-y-ghent. It's now the start of the best Yorkshire Dales walk I have ever done, no kidding, this traverse was head and shoulders above the rest, put it on your to do list but don't tell anyone. I left the car park via a foot-bridge avoiding the busy main road, as I stepped from the bridge a finger-post welcomed me, Cragghill Farm, Ribble Way, that was that an early morning stroll along the banks of the River Ribble, the Ribble Way under foot. It was a stunning start to the days adventure, I passed Cragghill Farm allowing the Ribble Way to guide me to Helwith Bridge and a tarmac road. I turned right, in turn the tarmac road guided me over Swarth Moor to the entrance of a bloody big quarry.

At this point I checked the map, a finger-post promised passage to Dry Rigg, I followed the road to another finger-post, this one announced the path went to Newfield, but more obvious the path looked to me to ascend Moughton Nab, bloody hell it was steep, I took five then went for it. Half way up I came across a finger-post announcing a viewpoint, a little further up a bench, yes it was a nice view but if I stopped I probably wouldn't get started again. There was a more immediate problem, how on earth was I going to get up and over Moughton Scar, a wall of overhanging limestone cliffs.

I need not have feared, the dry stone wall I followed guided me into a narrow gap, a breach in the mountains defences, up I went, then up another row of cliffs to be greeted by the vast summit plateau. I'd carefully planed my route the night before, using map and GPS, on this occasion I stuck to it. After what seemed ages picking my way over tussock grass, teetering over limestone pavements, scaling breaches in cliff faces I arrived at the summit, to be greeted by a large cairn and trig point, staggering vistas in all directions and a haunting mountain wind, time for a coffee stop.

Coffee lasted ages, while I soaked up stunning views to all points of the compass, I drank them in and enjoyed the moment, I'd earned it, I only left when the cold wind started to bite. North I walked passed a row of grouse butts to gain access to a path I had walked before, this narrow green trod guided me through more stunning scenery, a ladder-stile aided my crossing of a dry stone wall, the route to Horton in Ribblesdale was now under foot. The path ushered me north in the lea of a dry stone wall to a gate, then on to the main three peaks path, I turned right immediately descended off the scars into sheep and cow pastures, three fields later I stepped onto the platform of Horton in Ribblesdale Station, all that remained to cross the lines and descend over tarmac back to the car and, announce to the world, the best day walk in the Yorkshire Dales ever.

view route map.


Pen-y-ghent seen from the banks of the River Ribble.

Striding along the Ribble Way near Garth House.

What a stunning place to live, a row of quarrymen's cottages in the shadow of the cliffs and scree of Moughton.

Moughton Nab seen over Swarth Moor, my route followed the ridge line above Dry Rigg Quarry.

In shadow Pen-y-ghent viewed over Swarth Moor.

On the steep ascent of Moughton with this stunning view over Wharf, Crummack Dale and Thwaite for company.

The scene over Ribblesdale, across the horizon Langcliffe Scar and Warrendale Knots.

Lit by the morning sun, Pot Scar, Wharfe and Oxenber Woods with the Forest of Bowland dominating the horizon.

Taking a breather, I've earned it, viewing Langcliffe Scar and Warrendale Knotts, to the left Malham Moor with the long ridge of Fountains Fell vanishing out of shot.

A wild sky to match a wild landscape, traversing Moughton looking to the limestone cliffs of Long Scar with Ingleborough across the horizon.

Adventures through an extraordinary landscape, scraped, shattered and scooped, devoid of foot-paths, it's an amazing place Moughton.

Pen-y-ghent seen from Long Scar.

Above Long Scar drinking in stunning views to the Bowland Forest.

The summit, a silent lonely place haunted by the cold mountain wind.

Looking down on sunlit lowlands and the tiny Dales village of Austwick.

Stunning views over Yorkshires broad acres taking in Moughton Scars and Sulber.

Ingleborough in sunlight and shade, seen from the summit of Moughton.

Viewing Ingleborough over Crummack Dale.

Stunning views over the head of Crummack Dale, Moughton Scars and Thieves Moss backed by the steep slopes of Simon Fell.

About to leave the limestone scars behind and enter a landscape of cow and sheep pastures, close cropped and neat....

....but first a final look back across Moughton.

Pen-y-ghent seen across the green fields of Ribblesdale.

Safely across the tracks, Horton in Ribblesdale Station, like so many on this line neat, tidy and well cared for.

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