The Settle Loop is named after the ten-mile "loop" above Settle of the long distance trail, the Pennine Bridleway.

The wide path passes through excellent limestone scenery with views initially over Ribblesdale, but also Malham which can be reached if you wish to extend the day.

Park in one of the three main Settle car parks and make your way to the central square. Walk up the road, past the Co-op, and in to upper Settle before forking right up a steep lane just past the small wood. This is the steepest part of the day so get your head down and get it over with.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Settle Loop Attermire Scar

Initially up the lane, pass through a gate but continue up the steep hillside signed with the Pennine Bridleway. It is only a mile but nearly 1,000 feet of climbing before the route flattens and then starts to drop after a gate.

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Enjoy the lovely Attermire Scar on your left. The steep hillside to your right is Sugar Loaf Hill (Rye Loaf Hill is further on, also to your right). In the dip carry on through two gates towards a farm track (Stockdale Lane). Follow the farm track towards Stockdale Farm.

This is sheep farming country, classical Dales with dry stone walls, exposed limestone scars and short cropped grasses. Ignore the track cutting in to the farm itself, continue on the higher track. The rocky track continues to climb until it reaches a high point passing through two gates.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Settle Loop walk map

Carry on following the path as it descends towards another gate, Nappa Gate. Do not pass through but veer left. Follow the route to Langscar Gate in a north easterly direction through some lovely exposed limestone. It is here that the views over Malham Tarn may entice you down but it is an awfully long way back if you choose this route!

Read more: Incredible views from a hill many have seen, but few have climbed

Keep the wall to your right initially and see if you can spot Nappa Cross and mine shaft just before it drops steeply east. Do not follow the wall but stick to the obvious path north east until it meets a further track and turn left/west. This is the start of the return route.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Settle Loop Near Victoria Cave

The path initially climbs and then is relatively flat for three miles, it is a lonely spot with birds and sheep only breaking the silence. After three miles, arrive at a gate, do not go through it but take the path to the left to a small stile and a path that heads south with steep land to your left (this is leaving the Pennine Bridleway).

After 200 metres a sketchy path leads 100 metres uphill to Victoria Cave, well worth a detour. Discovered in 1837 the cave has been both a historians' and archaeologists' dream. Past discoveries have included bones from hippos, rhinos and elephants when the climate was much warmer, a brown bear when it was colder.

Returning to the path next to the wall, carry on south and through a stile where the land opens up for a while. Drop down the path under Attermire Scar to a junction of paths at a gate and join the outbound route. Take the right hand path through the gate and to a ladder stile (the ground can be wet here) before climbing alongside a wall to your left for 300 metres.

To your right a path leads to Attermire Cave (great shelter for past travellers) but return to the main path until it reaches its high point at a gate. From here the views over Settle and Ribblesdale open up impressively, it is a fine spot.

Keep heading east on a path dropping steeply towards Settle/Giggleswick and the fantastic views you probably were too tired to appreciate on the ascent.

Walk facts

Distance: Roughly 10.5 miles.

Height to climb: 500m (1,640 feet).

Start: SD 818635. There are two car parks in Settle, one near the rugby ground, the other just to the west of the main square.

Difficulty: Medium. All on good tracks (except the short detour to Victoria Cave) and with a steep start and final descent above Settle.

Refreshments: Settle has a large choice of cafes, pubs and shops.

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. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle (final date for 2023 is October 14) or a bespoke day for a private group. All dates and details are on the Where2walk website. also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.