Walk 67 - Horton to Hawes

Dale Head to Horton Back to Pennine Way index Hawes to Thwaite

The Walk

The fifteen mile trek from Horton to Hawes is a simple, but lonely and somewhat exposed, trek among moorland pastures close to the main watershed of Britain. Up here, in the vague country between the upper reaches of Ribblesdale, Wharfedale and Wensleydale, the skies are clear, the land is empty and the views are impressive. The topography is one of broad, flat moorland ridges and the predominant rock is limestone once again, which gives so much of the central Dales their unique flavour. Here again are drystone walls, stone barns, emerald green pastures, streams doing disappearing acts, jumbles of grey-white rock pavement and numerous potholes.

The route between Horton and Hawes makes use of a network of old drove roads, of which one at least is Roman in origin. The first, Harber Scar Lane, leads northwards out of Horton and crosses the watershed at Birkwith Moor to drop into Langstroth, an offshoot of upper Wharfedale. The Pennine Way leaves Horton Scar Lane just at the watershed and turns left to cross a mile of open moorland, on the other side of which is the farm of Old Ing (at the end of a long motor road on the east bank of the Ribble).

From Old Ing the Pennine Way adopts a second drove road, which crosses Ling Gill by an ancient packhorse bridge and rises to the watershed once more at Cam End. This was an important road junction in ancient times and nowadays is just as important to the long distance path network, for this is where the Pennine Way joins the Dales Way. A path to the left falls westwards to Ribble Head, while the combined Pennine Way and Dales Way head northwestwards along Cam High Road.

Cam High Road is an old Roman road and, in common with most of the roads constructed in that era, is dead straight. The Dales Way drops to the right, into the Oughtershaw valley and ultimately into upper Wharfedale. The Pennine Way heads onwards, along the top of a windy moorland ridge, eventually reaching the limit of a tarmac road at Kidhow Gate.

From Kidhow Gate the Pennine Way leaves the Roman road (which is heading for Bainbridge in Wensleydale) and instead runs along West Cam Road, along the western slopes of Dodd Fell. The picturesque valley of Snaizeholme Beck lies down to the west. After many miles the Pennine Way drops down the long northern spine of Dodd Fell and veers right, or northeast, into the delightful stone built village of Gayle (home of Wensleydale cheese and built around one of the loveliest natural water features in the Dales). A simple flagged path leads the short distance into the busy market town of Hawes, situated near the head of Wensleydale at an altitude of around 700ft.

There are public transport links along the length of Wensleydale to Northallerton, and also a rather more useful though skeletal link to the Settle-Carlisle rail halt at Garsdale. Hawes's own railway station is long since closed and now functions as the tourist information office.

Walk Statistics:
Length: 13.7 miles / 22 km
Total ascent: 1760 ft / 536 m
Total descent: 1727 ft / 527 m
Estimated time: 4 hrs 51 mins

Map: Ordnance Survey 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure 2 (Yorkshire Dales south and west)

Click on any thumbnail image in this gallery to display the corresponding full size image. The images are access protected through a cgi script to prevent hotlinking. If you encounter problems while trying to view the full size images, please read the access advice page.

Photographic note: The first half of the present images were taken on a half-day walk in July 2000. The transparencies had a strong magenta colour cast. I've done my best to correct for this but I'm aware that the results are a little odd and also rather inconsistent. The pictures of the second half of the walk were taken in the spring of 2003 using the new Nikon digital camera.

Horton -in- Ribblesdale

Horton from the railway station;  Harber Scar Lane

  Leeds - Settle - Horton - Carlisle rail timetable (Arriva Northern)

If this walk has an official start it's the well known Pen-y-Ghent Cafe, one of the Pennine Way's premier staging posts and a refreshment, information and gossip centre for hikers, cavers, cyclists and all manner of outdoor types. Head north along the main road and, at the corner just before the bridge over the Ribble, turn right and walk in front of the Crown Hotel, then immediately left. If you're coming down from the railway station you'll approach this corner from the west and go straight on past the Crown and then left. You're in Harber Scar lane.

Harber Scar Lane

Harber farmthe first section of Harber Scar lane

Harber Scar Lane is almost a twin of Horton Scar Lane, along which you entered Horton yesterday. It meanders lazily up, down and among the contours between twin drystone walls, with green limestone pastures to either side. A low moorland ridge rises to the right, while the Ribble meanders not far down to the left. Between the Ribble and the lane is a lonely motor road, serving a couple of farms and a scattering of stone cottages. Across the valley is the vast limestone hump of Ingleborough (elevation 723 meters).

Looking back to Horton;  Harber Scar lane

Rear viewforward view;  Ingleborough

Harber Scar lane is one of the many old drove roads in this area, along which cattle would have been driven between one valley and another, and which probably served as ancient trade routes The lane is heading ultimately for Langstrothdale, an offshoot of Wharfedale, and in the course of its journey will describe a wide, graceful curve around to the east. The Pennine Way follows Harber Scar lane for nearly 3 miles, turning off quite close to the watershed.

Harber Scar Lane at Sell GillSell Gill Holelimestone pavement

There's plenty of interest within those three miles. There's the gentle rises, falls and twists, which ensure that no vista is ever the same. The pattern of drystone walls changes now and again, with open pasture beckoning sometimes either to the right or left. And the Way passes several prominent potholes, the first of which is Sell Gill; the entrance to this cave (which is for experienced and properly equipped cavers only) lies just off the path to the right, in the slight depression formed by Sell Gill Beck. Limestone terraces and areas of karst, or limestone pavement, decorate the scene in the immediate vicinity.

The TarnWhernside; Jackdaw Hole

You will catch sight of a tiny lake down to the left; standing water is very much a rarity in limestone country and the Tarn, as it's called, is probably going to have a very short geological lifetime. Ingleborough continues to dominate the scene to the west, while Whernside (the third of the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales) begins to come into its own to the northwest. A little copse of trees is soon reached, which marks the position of Jackdaw Hole (yet another of the many potholes hereabouts).

Refreshment halt at Jackdaw Hole;  Harber Scar lane continues

I've more than once made use of Jackdaw Hole as a refreshment halt; it's a tranquil spot and a natural magnet for walkers who want a brief sit down off the path. Jackdaw Hole itself is one of several pots within the immediate vicinity - a look at the map will also reveal the existence of Cross Pot and Penyghent Long Churn. Six hundred meters further north are Canal Cavern and Red Moss Pot, both just off the path.

Harber Scar lane nearing Birkwith Moor

Not far north of the potholes Harber Scar lane starts to level out as it approaches the watershed on Birkwith Moor. It begins to turn to the northeast and sheds first one, then the other, of its enclosing drystone walls.

Birkwith Moor

Moorland scenery at Birkwith Moor

Harber Scar lane continues, no longer enclosed by twin drystone walls, across the rough pastures of Birkwith Moor. The track makes a very gradual curve to the right as the gradient, already shallow, begins to flatten out. Forest plantations are glimpsed across the brow of the hill ahead and slightly to the right.

Harber Scar lane on Birkwith moor

The unenclosed section lasts perhaps half a mile. The lane is heading for the Ribble/Wharfe watershed not much over a mile ahead, but before this point is reached the route of the Pennine Way veers off to the left. The point at which it does so is obvious, just after the lane crosses a transverse stone wall on a diagonal. Take the prominent path up the slope to the left.

The Pennine Way crossing Birkwith Moor towards Old Ing

The path breasts the top of the slope in about 200 meters and, from the vantage point, the Pennine Way is seen continuing down the other side towards the greener pastures adjacent to Old Ing farm, about half a mile to the west. The path is a little sketchy in places and may be juicy in wet weather but its line is never in doubt. It heads through a gate in another wall, near a stone barn, and follows alongside a wall to the north as it approaches the farm.

Old Ing

Pennine Way approaching Old IngOld Ing farm

It's somewhat galling to approach Old Ing and find cars parked there after you've walked almost four miles from Horton. Old Ing is, in fact, just beyond the end of the motor road that led off northwards from beside the Crown Hotel.

Old Ing farmPennine Way north of Old Ing

Another old drove road leads north from Old Ing, apparently the route of an ancient thoroughfare from Settle to Hawes. Almost immediately north of Old Ing the track comes alongside Dry Laithe Cavern.

Dry Laithe

Pennine Way at Dry LaitheLimestone formationsCavers at the entrance to Dry Laithe cavern

Dry Laithe (otherwise known as Calf Hole) is a popular venue for cavers. The cave swallows a beck which re-emerges from Browgill Cave a short distance to the northwest.

Dry Laithe (aka Calf Hole Cavern)

The Pennine Way north of Dry Laithe

The Pennine Way between Dry Laithe and Ling Gill

The Pennine Way continues along an excellent and nicely scenic lane for a mile north of Dry Laithe, eventually coming alongside Ling Gill.

Ling Gill

The Pennine Way approaches Ling Gill;  Ling Gill gorge

Ling Gill itself, described by Wainwright as one of North Yorkshire's finest limestone gorges, is reputedly 200ft deep in places. Unfortunately it is choked with vegetation and is poorly seen from the path. It is believed to be a collapsed cave system, and the sheer size of the boulders in the depths of the gorge would appear to support that theory.

The PW adjacent to Ling GillIngleborough glimpsed along the line of the gillLing Gill south of the bridge

The packhorse bridge;  Ling Gill from the bridge

The most famous feature of Ling Gill, however, is the 400 year old packhorse bridge that carries the old drove road across the gill northeast of the ravine. A carving on a stone built into the bridge states that it was repaired in 1765.

The packhorse bridge from the west bank; the PW leading away from the bridge to the north

The Pennine Way, having crossed Ling Gill via the bridge, now tracks more or less northwards up a nameless slope to head for Cam End.

Cam End

The track from Ling Gill Bridge to Cam End

The maps fail to give a name to the moorland ridge that the Way ascends for a mile or so north of Ling Gill bridge. To the west there is a feature called News Head Hill; nothing else in the vicinity has a name and to be honest there is very little to give a name to. The track has an excellent surface, fortunately, though even a brief perusal of the guidebooks indicates that this was far from the case until quite recently. Mud appears to feature prominently in various accounts.

The Pennine Way approaching Cam End

A first view of Ribbleheada retrospective view of Pen-y-Ghentand one of Ingleborough

Eventually the path reaches the top of the ridge and a view opens out to the west, giving you a glimpse of the famed Ribblehead Viaduct about three miles away. You are pretty much in the midst of the Three Peaks here - Whernside sprawls beyond Ribblehead to the west, while behind you Pen-y-Ghent resembles an upturned boat and Ingleborough displays its characteristic flat summit plateau. Shortly afterwards the Way reaches the Cam End path junction.

From Cam End junction: onwards to Cam High Rd; back to Ling Gilldown to Ribblehead

The path junction signpost at Cam End

At Cam End the Pennine Way joins the Dales Way, which has come up from a west-southwesterly direction and has itself recently diverged from the Ribble Way back at the Ingleton - Hawes road, a mile away. This road heads up through Widdale and more or less runs parallel with the route of the Pennine Way for the next eight or nine miles. In the other direction is the valley of Cam Beck, a tributary of Ling Gill. Between the two valleys is a long ridge of moorland running northeast, and it is along this ridge that the combined Pennine Way and Dales Way run, following the course of an old Roman road.

Cam High Road

Path junctionCam High Rdretrospective view of Ingleborough

Cam High Road runs almost dead straight for the next three miles, at first along the summit of the ridge, later along its eastern slopes. There is little to see. There are views down into the valley of Cam Beck for a while, and a mile north of Cam End the Dales Way diverges from the Pennine Way and heads down to the left on a falling gradient. It's heading for the lonely farm of Cam Houses, which sits almost on the main watershed; beyond it the land begins to fall again to the valley of Oughtershaw Beck, a far offshoot of Wharfedale. Another mile ahead the Pennine Way clocks up its hundredth mile, an event one feels ought to be physically marked; alas, there is still nothing to see.

Cam High Road and the view eastwards to Cam Houses

The Dales Way diverging to Cam Houses and Wharfedale

The watershed Cam High Rdlooking back

The tarmac section of Cam High Rd, and Cold Keld Gate

Cam High Road is joined by the driveway coming up from Cam Houses and beyond here it is surfaced with tarmac. It's fortunate that the tarmac section lasts only about a kilometre. Shortly before the turnoff the road passes through a gate; the drystone wall on either side used to mark the county boundary between the West Riding and North Riding of Yorkshire but nowadays it is merely a district boundary. You are leaving Craven and entering Richmondshire. The wall also follows the main watershed; behind you is the Ribble (draining into the Irish Sea), ahead is the Ure (draining into the North Sea).

Kidhow Gatesign to Hawes via West Cam Rd

Three hundred meters beyond Cold Keld Gate the road reaches a second barrier, that of Kidhow Gate. Here the road dips right to fall into the basin of the Wharfe (and back into Craven) for a short distance. The Pennine Way, however, bends left to follow yet another old drove road, West Cam Road.

West Cam Road

West Cam Road and the first feeders of Wensleydale

West Cam Road is even longer and lonelier than Cam High Road; it's still five and a half miles to Hawes and West Cam Road runs for three of them. In fact, you could leave the official Pennine Way and follow West Cam Road all the way but by doing so you would miss out Gayle, and by Pennine Way standards that's an unpardonable sin.

West Cam Road and Snaizeholme valley

West Cam Road is grassier than Cam High Road. It hugs the western slopes of Dodd Fell (648 meters), and follows the long, northeastern limb of the fell pretty nearly all the way into the head of Wensleydale. An offshoot of that lovely valley, that of Snaizeholme Beck, can be seen down to the left; it contains a few forest plantations and a tiny cluster of farms and from up here it looks really delightful.

West Cam Road and Snaizeholme valley

There is a drystone wall on the Snaizeholme side. It's made of limestone again, but this local stone has a curious, bleached look and seems to weather into rounded shapes not really characteristic of limestone. Further north this shoulder of Dodd Fell carries the name of Rottenstone Hill, which suggests that this local limestone tends to crumble or erode easily and is not suitable for use as building material.

West Cam Road and its environs

Approaching Ten End;  looking back at Dodd Fell;  Ten End

At Ten End, just over halfway between Kidhow gate and Hawes, there is a choice of routes. The walled lane, now named Cam Road, descends slightly left to fall for a further two miles before joining the Hawes - Ingleton road about a mile west of the town. The Pennine Way heads slightly right, keeping to the higher ground and reaching the prow of Rottenstone Hill.

Ten End, the path junction and Snaizeholme

Rottenstone Hill

First view of Hawes

Hawes, and it's nearer "suburb" of Gayle, are now in view. The Pennine Way continues, now as a simple grassy path, down the ridge of Rottenstone Hill across pastures.

Rottenstone Hill

Descending Rottenstone Hill

The path eventually adopts another track, Gaudy Lane, which comes out onto the motor road network by Faw Head.

Gaudy Lane

Faw Head


There are several possible route variations in the vicinity of Gayle, and sticking strictly to the line of the Pennine Way will cause you to bypass the village centre, which you should not do on any account. The official route of the Way runs eastwards for some 300 meters after reaching the first road, then turns left to run to the right of a field boundary; an alternative is to head north down the road and then west into the village. The official route emerges part way along this same lane, at which you would be advised to ignore the PW sign pointing straight on and instead turn right for the village centre.

Entering Gayle from the west

Gayle is built around a stone bridge crossing Gayle beck at the road junction in the village centre. The houses around seem to have grown rather than been built, and the whole scene is aesthetically perfect. How fortunate that Gayle grew into being before the world of bureaucracy and planning laws became the norm, for surely this scene of beauty could never have been devised on a sheet of drawing paper.

Gayle village centre

Walk north now down the Hawes road, passing to your right a lovely little waterfall that has no name on the map but should - if there's any poetic justice - be called Gayle Force. It's possible to walk the short distance down to the main road and turn right into Hawes, but a better option is to follow the PW which takes a local footpath across a water meadow, which runs behind Hawes church and goes through a stone arch to deposit you slap in the town centre.

Main road to Hawes


The path from Gayle to Hawes

Hawes churchthe arch

A Hawes scrapbook

Hawes is a compact little market town. It's of no great size and probably has a population of less than two thousand, but the real surprise is that it's here at all right at the top end of Wensleydale. It probably owes its existence to a junction of ancient roads, for high moorland roads strike out across the Pennines from here to Ingleton and to Sedburgh. There are also roads across the lateral watersheds to Oughtershaw (at the head of Wharfedale) and to Thwaite (at the head of Swaledale). Hawes itself has a handsome main street of stone-built houses, shops and inns, behind which is a maze of little alleys that often lead to bridges over Gayle Beck. Just to the north of the town is the flood plain of the Ure and the trackbed of the long abandoned Wensleydale railway line. The old station is now the tourist information office. For through hikers and backpackers the town provides invaluable resources for rest, recuperation and restocking.

There are a number of places to stay in Hawes, but if you're day hiking the key transport route is the bus hop to Garsdale for the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line. Up to date bus times are essential, for the service is both irregular and seasonal. Buses in the other direction run to Northallerton along the length of Wensleydale - a delightful run in itself but time consuming

  Service 112 Askrigg - Hawes - Garsdale (for Settle-Carlisle railway)
  Leeds - Settle - Garsdale - Carlisle rail timetable (Arriva Northern)
  Service 157 Hawes - Wensleydale - Northallerton


  Eagle Intermedia's Yorkshire Dales website
Now available on CD - the high resolution (2560 x 1920 pixel) originals of the 2003 images on this gallery (from Cam End to Hawes). 92 images, 127MB of data. (includes some images not selected for the website). The other images on this gallery will be available shortly.

£4.00 inclusive of postage / packing.
Note: Payment by credit card is handled by Pay Pal. If you are not already a member, their validation of your account can take up to 4 weeks.

Dale Head to Horton Back to Pennine Way index Hawes to Thwaite

This page last updated 4th December 2004