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.
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 a 91 metre (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.
Victoria Cave was named after an inner chamber was discovered by chance in 1837 on the day of Queen Victoria’s coronation. It is one of several caves in the area where prehistoric remains have been found. The cave contained a large number of bones of which the earliest were 130,000 years old. The bones from hippopotamus, narrow-nosed rhinoceros, elephants and spotted hyenas were dated to a period when the climate was much warmer than today. After the last Ice Age the cave was used by hibernating brown bear and in amongst the bones of Reindeer an 11,000 year harpoon head carved from antler was found. Flint implements and other ornaments were also found evidence of the first people in the Yorkshire Dales.
From the car park we make our way to the war memorial in the Market Place. With the main road on our left we turn right past the co-op and make our way steeply up Constitution Hill and keep following the lane as it bears left in front of a line of houses. We soon bear right onto a stony track following the sign for Pennine Bridleway and Langcliffe. The track turns right uphill between walls on each side. Look back for wonderful views of Settle. We go through a gate at the side of an old stone building and keep heading forwards through the field with the wall on our left then follow the sign post to Winskill. We go through a gate onto another track between two walls keep ahead and soon Pen-y-Ghent in front and Ingleborough on the left come into view. Ignore the stile and the gate on the left and keep heading uphill to go through the gate in the corner of the field. We head forwards then bear right towards the trees and a gate. We go through the gate and head forwards keeping the trees on our right. We keep heading forwards to go through another gate in the corner of the field then follow the path with trees ahead and to the right. At the wall corner we turn sharp right and head to the gate by the corner of a road. We go through the gate and turn right following the signpost to Langscar. The lane bears right and we go through the gate at the side of a cattle grid. Keeping to the wall on the right we continue along the track passing a barn and following the sign for Victoria Cave. We come to a wooden gate, pass through and turn immediate right through another gate following the sign for Victoria Cave. We now follow the wall on our right and at a kink in the wall we take the small path on the left uphill to Victoria Cave. After visiting the cave we make our way back down to the path and continue following the wall. At the end of the wall we head straight forward on the grassy path. We go over a rise then as we head downhill we go through a gate in the wall on our right into a rocky field. We continue downhill and then bear right and follow the wall on the left over a stile in the corner. We head forwards uphill through the next wall and then follow the wide grassy path which bears slightly right. We eventually come to the stone wall and a large metal gate with a smaller wooden gate at the side. We go through and continue forward. The path bears left downhill to meet the track we came in on at the gate by the side of the old farm building. We follow the walled track back down to Constitution Hill and the Market Place.
This is an easy to moderate walk on stony, gravel and grass tracks and paths with gates and stiles. There are some steep inclines and declines.
Elevation: approx lowest point 152.7m (501ft) approx highest point 418.9m (1374.3ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 4 miles allow 2¼ hours using OS Explorer Map OL2, Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western areas.
Start point: War Memorial in Settle Market Place.
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 in 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 and for refreshments there are a variety of shops, cafes, tearooms, take-away, restaurants and three pubs to choose from.