Guide to Ribblesdale and the Three Peaks

The River Ribble is the only Dales river which flows west into the Irish Sea. It travels through the heart of the Dales’ Three Peaks area from Settle through Horton in Ribblesdale to Ribblehead and its famous viaduct.


Settle is an ancient market town, with a charter going back to 1249, sitting under the great limestone crag of Castleberg. Its Market Place is filled with stalls on market days, and noteworthy is the unusual two-storey arched Shambles. Settle retains a range of independent shops, with many old buildings and some interesting pubs. Just outside the town the village of Giggleswick is well known for its public school.

Following the Ribble up the Dale, a side road through the village of Langcliffe leads to a route over the moors to Malham. At Stainforth the ancient ford over the Ribble was replaced by a packhorse bridge in the 17th century.

The Three Peaks

Horton in Ribblesdale is the starting point for the famous Three Peaks walk, with easy access to Penyghent and the Pennine Way, and a convenient base for exploring Three Peaks country. Horton’s quarry is evidence of the importance of limestone extraction to the local economy.

Ribblehead, Ingleborough and Whernside

At the top of Ribblesdale is one of the Yorkshire Dales iconic landmarks – the Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle railway. Saved from closure by a strong local campaign, the railway is now a major UK tourist attraction. Built for the railway to cross the boggy moor, the Ribblehead viaduct area was the scene of an infamous shanty town during the railway’s construction. Thousands of navvies worked on the tunnels, viaducts and bridges with many lives lost.

At Ribblehead both Ingleborough and Whernside are within view, and can be walked from routes nearby. The third of the Three Peaks, Penyghent, is about 18 kilometres away by foot – the whole circular walk from Horton around the Three Peaks being about 40 kilometres, with ascents of each of the 700 metre high peaks.

Pen-y-ghent in the Snow Ribblehead Viaduct Ingleborough
© Visit Yorkshire 2003-2020 | Yorkshire Dales Online, Bowers Wharf, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 2PD | Terms | About Us | Contact Us