The low level walk from Horton in Ribblesdale to Settle is a fine example of a one-way walk that is continuously varied and interesting without any need of repetition. Using the Settle Carlisle railway for one stop ensures this.

Take the train from Settle (where there is plenty of nearby parking) and join the regular two-hourly Settle to Carlisle service. On arrival at the attractive railway station at Horton, cross the lines and head down the road towards the centre of the village.

Directly ahead is the distinctive profile of Pen-y-Ghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. However, that walk is for another day. Before reaching the river, turn right through a narrow stile and start to walk alongside the River Ribble, heading initially back towards the station.

For the first two miles the footpath follows the Ribble Way close the river bank. The Ribble Way is not a popular long distance path and at one stage, after Cragg Hill Farm, the path is too faint to follow. At this point cross the field to meet a lane back at the river bank, follow it under the train lines and join a minor road leading in to Helwith Bridge.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Horton to Settle map

Dominating the views to your right is Dry Rigg quarry, the hard gritstone used for some of our country’s road building. On meeting a busier road at the pub, turn left and follow it for 600m where a much quieter road heads off to the left.

This moorland road climbs a little to provide wonderful views back towards Horton and Pen-y-Ghent. It winds its way over the moors for nearly a mile and a half and is the picture of a tranquil Dales scene.

On arrival at the picturesque hamlet of Little Stainforth there is a very pleasant pub/café intriguingly known as the Knights Table. The name comes from the Stainforth estate where the manor house was owned by the Knights Templar in pre-Norman days.

Follow the narrow road past the holiday park to the river. Before arriving at the river turn right and arrive at the spectacular Stainforth Falls – well it was spectacular when I went after heavy rains!

From the falls pass through a gate onto an open field and past a notice board. At the end of the field join a footpath which winds its way initially above the river but eventually dropping down towards it. A mile and a half from the falls, arrive at a weir on the river.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The quarry at Little Stainforth

The weir was built to provide power for the Langcliffe cotton mill on the far bank, one of a number of mills up the Ribble Valley. Turn right at the weir and follow a lane into Stackhouse. Just before meeting the road there is a weather stone on your right (consistently wet recently). Turn left on to the road. After 500m take the footpath on your left which returns alongside the river, past the school playing fields and joins Settle just before the road bridge leading to its centre.

The sketch map shows two extensions to this walk. The first is an initial climb of Pen-y-Ghent dropping down to Helwith Bridge whilst the second shows an extension from Helwith Bridge to Feizor.

Walk facts

Distance: Roughly eight miles.

Height to climb: 150m (490 feet).

Start: SD 803726. At Horton head towards the centre of the village (there are toilets at the car park) but join the riverside path before crossing the river.

Difficulty: Medium. Straightforward walk on good paths, tracks and some minor road walking.

Refreshments: The Helwith Bridge Inn and Knights Table at Little Stainforth offer pleasant stops enroute.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

  • Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 mountains and Walks without Stiles. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website. Climb the Three Peaks in three days (Yorkshire version) on September 6, 7 and 8. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle (next date September 2). All dates and details are on, which also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.