The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of Northern England spanning westwards from the Vale of York, over the Pennines and into Cumbria. Known mainly as The Dales it has outstanding scenery, a diversity of wildlife habitats, a rich cultural heritage and peacefulness. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, created in 1954 and one of fifteen National Parks in Britain, has over twenty main dales each with their own unique character and atmosphere. Most of the dales are named after their river or stream except Wensleydale which is named after the small village and former market town of Wensley rather than the River Ure. The Northern Dales are rugged and the Southern Dales are less remote but the dales, so beautiful, are littered and scared with ancient settlement sites, disused mineral workings, dry-stone walls and barns. The U and V shaped valleys, formed by glaciers, are mainly grazed by sheep and cattle and provides the hills for walkers and climbers and the valley bottoms for strollers and amblers.
North Yorkshire is England’s largest county and one of the most rural comprising of the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Vale of York and the coastal regions and they all have their own distinctive natural beauty. The county covers an area of 3,341 square miles and 40% of this area is covered by National Parks and with stunning moorland, beautiful dramatic to rolling hills, ancient woodland, a spectacular coastline, splendid waterfalls, many attractive villages and hamlets and many historic sites such as abbeys, castles, priories, stately homes and traditional pubs there is something for everyone of all ages to explore.
Settle is a small market town and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire. It is located in Upper Ribblesdale at the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales within a few miles of the Three Peaks. Castlebergh at 91 metres (300 feet) limestone crag overlooks the town. The River Ribble that flows through the town begins at the confluence of the Gayle Beck and Cam Beck below the Three Peaks near the Ribblehead Viaduct. It is the only river rising in Yorkshire which flows westward for 75 miles before emptying into the Irish Sea. Settle is thought to have 7th century Anglican origins and its market charter was granted to Henry de Percy in 1249. A market square developed and a main route through the town was built on an east west direction which led to Giggleswick where the citizens attended the parish church. Settle’s market is held weekly on Tuesdays in Victoria Hall in the town centre. The Square is surrounded by local businesses most of which are family owned. It is said that The Naked Man is the oldest cafe in the country and the Gallery on the Green is the smallest art gallery in the world. Victoria Hall, a Grade II listed concert hall, is England’s oldest surviving music hall. Built around 1852 and designed by Sharpe and Paley, the hall opened as Settle music Hall on 11th October 1853. Although the building is owned by Craven District Council the hall is run by a charity, Settle Victoria Hall Ltd, which was set up in 1991. Independently run by the trustees and management team the hall, which was restored in 2000, has a wonderful programme of drama, comedy and music as well as community events, workshops and indoor markets. The Friends of Victoria Hall are a dedicated team of volunteers who help to raise funds and help in many ways with the running of the events. The Folly dominating the centre with its unusual exterior was built in the late 1670’s. It is a Grade I listed building and houses the Museum of North Craven Life where you can discover how the people lived whether a farmer up on the hills, a coal miner in Ingleton or a member of a well off family as well as the history of the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway. The Settle to Carlisle Railway, built in 1875, opened to goods traffic and then to passengers the following year when Settle Station opened along with a goods warehouse, cattle pens, signal box and water cranes. Today special excursion trains, often hauled by steam locomotives, regularly travel along the line taking you through the North of England’s most beautiful countryside with breathtaking views. Cotton spinning became Settles main employment in the late 18th century and Bridge End Mill was converted from corn milling to cotton spinning. Settle had five mills employing 333 people. Since 2010 Settle has held an annual Settle Storytelling Festival attracting artists and visitors from around the world. The popular festival offers a range of paid for and free events suitable for all age ranges.
Stainforth is a pretty village the focal point being the stepping stones that cross Stainforth Beck connecting village greens on either side. The footpath from the village to Catrigg Force is part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail which runs through the village as well as other interesting footpaths that lead to and from the village. There is also a pay and display car park with public toilets and picnic area. St Peter’s church set in the village dates from 1842 and the Craven Heifer public house, originally The Packhorse, situated along the beck was named after a massive shorthorn cow was bred at Bolton Abbey in 1807. The cow became famous across Yorkshire because of its size and was soon known as the Craven Heifer. Several inns were renamed the Craven Heifer as a result. Stainforth sat at the junction of several packhorse roads and the inn served the packhorse drivers for centuries. The village was once a prosperous farming community belonging to Sawley Abbey near Clitheroe signs of the early fields can be seen on the terraces rising north of the village. During the 18th and 19th centuries the villages industry was two water powered cotton mills, a linen works, leather and paper making and brewing.
Catrigg Force is a wonderful waterfall hidden from view in a small secluded copse about a mile upstream of Stainforth village. The main waterfall comes from Catrigg Beck as it enters a narrow gap in the limestone rocks then drops vertically for about 6 metres (20 feet) down two levels into a lovely step pool below. A further 20 metres (65.6 feet) away is a second waterfall which drops into Stainforth Beck but is harder to view. Stainforth Beck then flows through Stainforth village and into the River Ribble one of the Yorkshire Dales larger rivers.
Stainforth Force, just west of Stainforth village on the other side of the B6479, is where the River Ribble tumbles over a series of cascades where salmon can often be seen leaping on their final journey up river to their spawning grounds. Just above the force a former monastic road crosses the River Ribble on a pack horse bridge that was built in 1675. To preserve the bridge it was given to the National Trust 1937. A short distance upstream from the bridge is the remains of a small water mill which was originally a corn mill. It became a cotton mill in 1792 and by the mid 19th century it had closed down. The force is a series of falls and pools for those who wish to paddle and a deep cauldron into which some people jump. Its grassy banks are ideal for a picnic or barbeque.
Ribble Way is a 73 mile long distance footpath following the River Ribble along the Ribble valley from its source to its mouth. The footpath, which covers the counties of Lancashire and North Yorkshire, starts at Longton to the west of Preston in Lancashire, through Ribchester and Clitheroe before reaching Gisburn. It then crosses into North Yorkshire and continues to its end at Gavel Gap near Horton in Ribblesdale. The Ribble Way passes through a variety of landscapes including tidal marsh, open moorland and limestone gorges. It connects with several other long distance walks including the Dales Way, the Pennine Way, the Pennine Bridleway and the Round Preston walk.
We had great fun filming this walk during Settle’s Flowerpot Festival 2015. A good family walk.
From the car park we turn left in front of the petrol station and go under the railway bridge following the main road. We head forwards to cross the bridge over the River Ribble then turn right at the footpath sign to Stackhouse on the Ribble Way with the river on our right. The path bears left then left again and then right through a gated stile. We head forwards through the fields away from the river until we come to a gated stile at the road. We turn right and follow the road to Stackhouse. At Stackhouse we bear right on the road and then turn right just after a white house, sign posted Ribble Way Stainforth, which takes us back to the riverside. We cross over a weir turn left and immediate right over a bridge with a reservoir on the right. We head forwards up the lane to the road and go straight over to cross the railway line. We then turn left along the path for a short way then turn right at the yellow arrow uphill through a narrow field next to the wall on our left. At the end of the field we turn left onto a walled track. We head forwards on the track into an open field. We go through two gates and keep heading uphill on the path which bears left to a gate in the corner near the trees. We head forwards to a wall corner and follow the wall on our right to a gate and a stile. We go over the stile and head forwards to a track that leads to a farm. We turn right along the track go over a cattle grid and at the sign post Pennine Bridleway Stainforth we bear right following the wall on our left. We soon come to a track and turn left downhill. At the gate to a walled track we go through and turn immediate right through another gate sign posted Catrigg Force only. After visiting Catrigg Force we make our way back to the walled track. We turn right and follow the track to Stainforth village. We cross over the little beck via the stepping stones and then turn left and then left again round the bend. At the end we turn right past the car park to the main road. We turn right and follow the main road using the pavement for a short way then turn left at the little junction. We follow the little road until we cross over a bridge then turn immediate left and Stainforth Falls is just on the left. We continue forwards with the River Ribble on our left. We now keep following the river until we arrive back at the weir we crossed earlier. We cross over the weir again then turn right between the houses to a private sign on a gate at the end. We turn left and follow the path at the side of the reservoir. At the mill we turn left and follow the path between the buildings until we reach a tarmac track. We turn right along the track until we meet the main road then turn right and follow the road using the pavement back towards Settle. At the t-junction we turn left and make our way back to the car park.
This is an easy to moderate walk on grassy and gravel paths and tracks, there is also some minor road and major road using the pavement. There is a steep incline and decline at Catrigg Force.
Elevation: approx lowest point 145m(475.7ft) approx highest point 331.8m (1088.6ft) approx total ascent 269.5m (884.2ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 7.2 miles allow 3½ hours using OS Explorer Map OL2, Yorkshire Dales Southern & western areas.
Start point: Whitefriars car park on the B6480 next to the petrol station near the railway bridge.
Settle is in the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire.
Directions and Parking
From the A1(M) take junction 47 onto the A59. Keep on the A59 through Knaresborough, Harrogate and along Blubberhouses to Skipton. Soon after passing Skipton take the A65, the third exit at a roundabout, to Gargrave. Stay on the A65 and take the right turn at a roundabout onto the B6480 to Settle.
Parking: There are 3 pay and display car parks to choose from at Settle. There is one on the main road and the other two are just off the main road but are all close to the centre.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets in the Whitefriars car park situated on the main road (B6480) and for refreshments there are a variety of shops, cafes, tearooms, take-away, restaurants and three pubs to choose from in Settle. There are also public toilets in Stainforth car park and an adjacent picnic area and for refreshments there is a pub the Craven Heifer.