Ridge Walk – Gauber to Ingleborough via Simon’s Fell with stunning views
I’d walked on part of Simon’s Fell during my Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge in May but never actually reached its summit. As it’s one of the list of Yorkshire’s 30 highest peaks which I am gradually working my way through I thought it time I ticked it off the list.
I found a route from Gauber, very close to Ribblehead which would give me the chance of not only bagging Simon’s Fell, but another fell I had never been on called Park Fell, before nipping up Yorkshire’s second highest peak – Ingleborough.
The route is not difficult to follow but had some fantastic views, which I captured and hopefully you will appreciate too.
I set off from home early as being so close to the shortest day needed to make sure I made the most of the light. Parking at a lay by on the B6479 (Horton in Ribblesdale to Ribblehead road) at Gauber I walked a short way down the road away from Ribblehead before taking a track off past Salt Lake Quarry towards a farmhouse called Colt Park – dating to the 1600’s. The track had been carved out through limestone pavement with trees growing out of he grykes.
At Colt Park a gate opens to a footpath where you get to see the steep climb ahead of you.
There is no way around this, it just requires a bit of a slog to get to the top. But as I stopped to catch my breath a few times and look back at the progress the views back of Ribblehead Viaduct open up as you gain height and make the effort worthwhile.
(You can read my blog on the Ribblehead Viaduct here).
It is one of those climbs where it looks like you have reached the top, but annoyingly when you get there, you find there is still a little bit more to go!
After the yomp up, you soon see the trig point of Park Fell (563m) which appears on the horizon. I headed over to the trig point across boggy terrain, glad that I had invested earlier in the year to some new leather walking boots which were heavily waterproofed. My previous canvas Salomon boots would not have kept my feet dry here.
After an obligatory peak picture, I headed across the fell over some wooden trackways over the peat bog. My dog Bronte enjoyed a paddle in some of the large puddles.
The route follows the ridge and there are views off one side towards Penyghent and the other to Whernside. With the blue skies the vistas were stunning and ample reward for the initial climb.
The path drops down slightly coming off Park Fell, before gradually climbing up onto Simons Fell. There is a distinctive outcrop of gritstone known as Black Rock which sits on the edge of South House Moor.
I decided just past Black Rock that a Weegeman’s pork pie was needed to give me the energy to for the next climb. It worked and refreshed I continued my journey.
Following the wall along the centre of the ridge the path gently rises. The path would continue to Lord’s Seat, but there is a stile on the right which I took, which once over rises steeply to a small cairn which marks the summit of Simon’s Fell (650m). The cairn is not very impressive but the views back over to Ingleborough with its distinctive flat top are wonderful.
The ridge path again follows a wall and eventually joins up with the Three Peaks public footpath just above Humphrey Bottom and the steep staircase descent to Chapel le Dale and Southerscales.
The final ascent of Ingleborough was on a well-defined path with quarried stone steps. I had been sheltered from the wind by Ingleborough but now on the final path to the summit (720m) the wind got up and was really quite scary. I marched to the top but didn’t stop around for worry of being blown off the edge, before quickly descending.
There is a route where you can descend the staircase on the Three Peaks path to the Hill Inn at Chapel le Dale, walking cross country to Ribblehead Viaduct. I decided to skip this as I wouldn’t have enough daylight and the last time I had come down the staircase whilst doing the Three Peaks in May I had spent most of the time on my backside!
Instead I decided to retrace my steps, walking back along the ridge to Gauber.
At this point I got a great view of most of the long ridge I had previously walked along as well as Whernside, Yorkshire’s highest peak in the distance.
On my return the weather temporarily closed in and suddenly my route was shrouded by mist. It made for an atmospheric final section but the path was pretty easy to follow and I had the GPS and OS Maps on my phone.
The wind finally blew the mist away, in time for my final descent back into Gauber. The steep hill I had climbed in the morning was tricky to come down and I was glad I had my walking poles for balance as I meandered down the slope.
After walking past Colt Park Farm, I ended up at Salt Lake Quarry. I knew I was only 15 minutes walk from my car and hadn’t had my sandwiches although it was nearly 3pm, so decided to eat my pack up in the quarry which is now a nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
The 2 acre site was originally excavated by the Craven Lime Company who quarried stone for the Settle to Carlisle railway. Since quarrying stopped the site has become home to a mosaic of wildlife (particularly dragonflies and damselflies in the permanent ponds) and has now been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Next to the quarry there is a disused lime kiln from the days when limestone would have been burnt to make lime for fertiliser and mortar.
After my late lunch I took the short walk back down the road to my car and the drive back home. Bronte my lab was shattered and was snoring away within 2 minutes of the journey. This was a great walk of about 9 miles (4.5m each way) with big views and was perfect for clearing the head whilst getting the heart going.