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Thread: Yorkshire Dales fell running routes

  1. #1
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    Yorkshire Dales fell running routes

    Okay, taking the lead from JohnK, this thread is my (quite probably forlorn ) attempt to start a new and positive fell running topic.

    A bit of back story: I moved up from the deep south to North Yorkshire in 1997 and, for the first ten years lived in (the now seen as the grand metropolis of) Skipton, moving from there to Settle in 2007 and from there to Horton-in-Ribblesdale in 2014. So I was on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park from the start and have gradually creeped closer and closer to its heart of darkness ever since.

    And right from the off, only ever having really run in the wild woods of the chiltern hills before, I started my evolution into a fell runner. Impossible to do nowadays but my very first fell race ever, I think in 2007 when I would have been 51 years young, was the 3 peaks. I ran out of my skin on a very hot day but completely died a death, face down in a beck, just before the road and the finish. I would've been on for a commendable 4:20 finish I think but ended up staggering over the line line in something nearer 4:50, completely dehydrated and racked by cramps all over my body. I'd like to think things have improved since then....

    But getting back to the point of the thread. Living where I do, I see a lot of runners rocking up to run the three peaks or maybe the bog standard loop of Penyghent but, outside of that, its mainly us locals that run around the place properly. Over the years I've collected a massive route library, not just locally hereabouts but all over the Dales. So my plan is to reasonably regularly post a running route from my library with a OS map view included, for anyone interested in giving some great and perhaps less well trod routes a bash. I'm not saying I won't post routes over Penyghent, my favourite hill in the world, but I'll look to post less well known versions

    I was just going to post my first route but now have to leave to have my second covid jab. I'll post later touch wood. To set the scene this though is my strava heat map of running routes in the just my local corner of the Dales since 2012 so there's a lot to go at

    Last edited by Fellbeast; 14-05-2021 at 02:01 PM.

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    Senior Member Marco's Avatar
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    Excellent idea

    Anyone else want to step up and highlight their area, and local expertise?

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    Whilst I look forward to Fellbeasts' run routes in the Yorkshire Dales and am always happy to pick up snippets from others I must say that a great part of my walking, running and cycling enjoyment is the sometimes hours of poring over maps prior to the actual adventure.
    Visibility good except in Hill Fog

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    Route 1 - Gragareth from just below Tow Scar

    7 miles and 1,266 feet of ascent


    So Gragareth is not the first hill you think of to run up in the Dales. But this route is an absolute belter. Gragareth is the highest peak in Lancashire and its great that Lancashire, along with a big slug of Cumbria, both contribute to the brilliance that is the "Yorkshire" Dales National Park

    My start point is about a mile and a half up the road from Thornton in Craven, near Ingleton, on the lane that goes on through Kingsdale to Dent. You sort of reach a crest just before dropping down into the dale, with a double barred gate on the left and an area that will fit a few cars end to end parked up.

    Starting off from the other side of the gates you basically follow a pretty clear track on a steady climb, through one gate and then all the way up, after about a mile, to a join a much bigger track called the Turbary Road (its not a 'road' by the way). You veer right on the Turbary Road here which is, at this point, mainly flat and grassy running for a good couple of miles, with you now heading north east, parallel with Kingsdale itself on your right shoulder. And with potential in clear weather for great views across to Whernside, and Ingleborough beyond that, on the opposite flank of the dale.

    The Turbary Road is a biking route which finally merges with the main Kingsdale lane at Yorda's Cave but don't expect to see many people biking, walking or running up there - in fact you might well have the whole run completely to yourself.

    Eventually, having passed through a few gates, the track begins to get rough and then climbs to your left more northerly in direction to meet a gate into yet another pasture. Here though you hook left and follow the wall line on a lesser used and pretty well always soggy trod. This trod will be familiar to anyone who has run the Fellsman and the trod eventually becomes bonkers steep for the climb up to the top of the ridge line - once at the top, you hop over the stile and follow the trod diagonally left to the trig point



    Now for the best bit, the super fast 3 mile descent. You follow a trod heading south from the trig and cross a ladder stile, follow the wall down a little, cross another stile and then its breaks off, hammer down following this wall line for a super fast mile, through one broken wall line and then hooking left when you reach second broken wall line - the path left here momentarily loses itself in tussocks but trust the line and you soon pick it up again. Its flatter but undulating for a bit now, and soggy too, but still fast and you soon reach the gate to the Turbary road where you'd been before and you just whiz down the final mile of the route (the way you ran up) back to the car. An option on the way down is to scoot up to the Tow Scar trig if you want to, adding not much to the total distance

    All in all a humdinger - a mile of steady climb to get your eye in, two miles of fast, flat enjoyable running, a bastard of a climb for one mile and one of the very best three mile descents in the whole of the Dales

    Last edited by Fellbeast; 20-05-2021 at 01:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Llani Boy View Post
    Whilst I look forward to Fellbeasts' run routes in the Yorkshire Dales and am always happy to pick up snippets from others I must say that a great part of my walking, running and cycling enjoyment is the sometimes hours of poring over maps prior to the actual adventure.

    I totally agree with that. That said some of my worst runs ever have been self worked out from maps

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    A couple of my best days have been far removed from traditional days out or ridge runs... stringing together remaining and distant Wainwrights via unlikely routes.

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    The other thing is that OS maps only show some of the trails. This is what you see when you look at Gragareth on the map. Yep you'll know they'll some paths and trods up there but where the heck do they go?

    Last edited by Fellbeast; 20-05-2021 at 01:51 PM.

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    Master Jez Hellewell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fellbeast View Post
    Okay, taking the lead from JohnK, this thread is my (quite probably forlorn ) attempt to start a new and positive fell running topic.

    A bit of back story: I moved up from the deep south to North Yorkshire in 1997 and, for the first ten years lived in (the now seen as the grand metropolis of) Skipton, moving from there to Settle in 2007 and from there to Horton-in-Ribblesdale in 2014. So I was on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park from the start and have gradually creeped closer and closer to its heart of darkness ever since.

    And right from the off, only ever having really run in the wild woods of the chiltern hills before, I started my evolution into a fell runner. Impossible to do nowadays but my very first fell race ever, I think in 2007 when I would have been 51 years young, was the 3 peaks. I ran out of my skin on a very hot day but completely died a death, face down in a beck, just before the road and the finish. I would've been on for a commendable 4:20 finish I think but ended up staggering over the line line in something nearer 4:50, completely dehydrated and racked by cramps all over my body. I'd like to think things have improved since then....

    But getting back to the point of the thread. Living where I do, I see a lot of runners rocking up to run the three peaks or maybe the bog standard loop of Penyghent but, outside of that, its mainly us locals that run around the place properly. Over the years I've collected a massive route library, not just locally hereabouts but all over the Dales. So my plan is to reasonably regularly post a running route from my library with a OS map view included, for anyone interested in giving some great and perhaps less well trod routes a bash. I'm not saying I won't post routes over Penyghent, my favourite hill in the world, but I'll look to post less well known versions

    I was just going to post my first route but now have to leave to have my second covid jab. I'll post later touch wood. To set the scene this though is my strava heat map of running routes in the just my local corner of the Dales since 2012 so there's a lot to go at

    Great thread!
    Moved to Skipton myself just over a year ago, from Burley-In-Wharlefdale. I have subsequently tried to find as many different trails/peaks as possible. The quieter the better. One of my absolute favourite routes is up Weets Top from Boss Moor. At the summit the views down to Malhamdale are stunning. I love getting back from a new run, looking at the OS Map, & checking out alternate routes or paths that can be added next time. So much to go at in Tne Yorkshire Dales. Not done Gragareth as yet, but it’s on my list!

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    Route 2 - Cleatop woods and Settle hills from Settle

    8.25 miles and 1,850 feet of ascent


    It doesn't much matter what end of Settle you enter from but, as you are travelling in, you can't help but be drawn to hills behind and above Settle. To me, as someone who always looks at hills as things to explore and get to the top of, when I moved to Settle the very first thing I needed to do was run up there and get to know them. And yeah I guess I know them really really well nowadays. There's a fantastic fell race route up there too, called the Settle Hills fell race for some reason , but I'll save the route for that maybe for another time. This route is probably better anyway as it shows you more

    So starting from the centre of Settle, maybe the car park by the Rib rugby ground, head south and pick up the footpath that is Brockhole lane (called Watery Lane by all the locals because, when it rains, it can be quite 'watery'). You follow this track until it crosses a proper (tarmacked) lane at Hoyman Laithe. There's a stile opposite and you continue over that, through three fields heading for some woods ahead. You enter the woods, marked on the map as Cleatop Park, though a double bar gate and follow a clear track (not marked on OS) up through the woods and eventually do a hard left turn at the top of a steady climb, starting now to head more north easterly.

    You're now back on a marked footpath and you exit the woods on that and whiz down through open pasture to Lodge Farm, with views of Settle Hills front and right where you are now heading. You turn right at Lodge Farm following the farm track until you meet a T junction, with Mitchell lane going left back to Settle and Lambert Lane, a cart track, going right. You go right following Lambert Lane

    Finally Lambert Lane brings you to the proper road, High Hill Lane, which you cross and vault over the gate opposite. There's route choice here - my route takes you left to include a humdinger hill climb up the side of High Hill but you could go right and have a much easier time of it (see red marked alternative on the map below).

    This is me "attacking" my strava segment of the climb up High Hill last year - Hester my wife was the person sarcastically telling me to 'push it' while videoing and she even managed to keep up with my 'pace' (quite easily) walking for a while, although I do eventually leave her to eat my dust.... To be fair it is fricking steep going but just about runnable all the way



    After High Hill, its a case of heading down through a big pasture towards Attermire Scar. There are one or two trods if you know where to look and, just by heading in the right direction, you'll pick up one. Basically you're heading for the north east corner of the field and, when you get there, hop over the stile. My route here heads directly up to the trig on Warrendale Knotts - there is a bit of a trod if you look but the terrain sort of points you in the right direction anyway. Again you are in no OS marked path territory but, from the trig, pick up a trod heading north and then more easterly heading towards the next landmark, visible if you know where to look, of Victoria Cave. It also might be worth stopping at the top before heading down for a complete view up Ribblesdale of the three peaks of Yorkshire - Ingleborough to the left, Whernside just behind and to the right and then a bit of a hop further right for Penyghent

    You soon pick up the main OS path again and head north to then pick up the Pennine Bridleway which you can either follow left (red line on my map below) or carry on a little and loop instead on a very fast running trod through open pasture. Either way you'll pick up the Pennine Bridleway and all that's left is to follow it all the way back to Settle to finish

    A cracker

    Last edited by Fellbeast; 20-05-2021 at 01:52 PM.

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    Route 3 - Penyghent, Fountains Fell and Malham Moor loop

    14 miles and 3,200 feet of ascent (deduct 500 feet if you opt for the Helwith Bridge alternative)


    The problem with Fountains Fell, when looked at on an OS map, it that there's only one clear marked path over it, the Pennine Way, and its a bit of a toss up, first time you go up there, as to what other route alternatives might present themselves:



    But don't worry, there are some cracking route alternatives up there, including this one which starts from Horton (but could equally start from Helwith Bridge) and throws in Penyghent as well plus, for added bonus points, a little used descent off the back of Penyghent, taking a direct line towards Fountains Fell.

    So my route takes the bog standard (right hand side) Brackenbottom track up Penyghent from Horton, with the the slight scramble before you get to the top. Once at the summit though you stay on the trig side of the wall line and continue heading northish, soon dropping down to a corner in that wall line. Don't use any gates at this point but now follow this wall line right to a ladder stile a couple of hundred metres down, and cross that. Continue downhill now, with the wall line on your right - things soon become quite steep and rocky in places, but its an easy enough descent around this north east corner of Penyghent to reach another corner of the wall line at the bottom - you cross a broken wall here and follow a usually quite squidgy quad bike track, again keeping the wall on your right. After a while the quad bike track takes a turn left but you don't go that way but continue on what's now a small trod with the wall still on the right - if you lose the trod, don't worry as you'll soon pick it up again and anyway there's an obvious wall to follow. This trod heads away from the wall eventually, just to cut a corner, but then picks it up again - you are now very close to a beck, Penyghent Gill. You need to cross this beck and get wet feet at this point and then head to another small stile and cross over into a much more civilised field with a big barn on your right. Cross that and then the Halton Gill road and head up the main track, now the Pennine Way, on the climb up Fountains Fell

    This is a rip snorter of a climb - you don't stay on the Pennine Way but carry on straight up when the Pennine Way hooks left. This climb is a bit relentless and steep in a couple of places but it eventually levels out, and having crossed a wall, you reach the highest point on Fountains Fell, only marked by a cairn of stones though (no trig). Its actually marked 'Pile of Stones' on the map

    You now follow an obvious track to your right which passes to the right of Fountains Fell Tarn, with you broadly heading south easterly at this point. This takes you finally to a hole in a wall from where you drop down a little. There is a wire fence that confuses things a bit but go through a gate and continue on this track, now a narrow trod, with the wall on your right. You're holding height here most of the way running on an undulating ridgeline track; eventually you reach a corner where there is an obvious looking gate to cross on your right - hop over this and now run with the wall to your left - if you've done this correctly you will be in the right field that takes you to the Malham Moor top trig point.

    After the trig, continue following the wall line, now descending until you pick up a marked OS path coming across you, through a gate to your left. Turn right onto this track and drop down to the Henside Road. Go right at the bottom and take the immediate turn in the road to the right. You are now running on tarmac and you follow the Henside Road until it brings you back to the main Halton Gill road at Sannon Hall farm. You turn left at this junction and then, after circa 100 yards, right onto a bridleway, Moor Head Lane - you can instead cut this corner using a marked footpath but it can sometimes be very cow-ey in that field

    Moor Head Lane can take you all the way down to Helwith Bridge, a possible starting point for this run, but in my route I add in a final 500 feet of climb taking the Great Moor Head track all the way to Dub Cote Pasture before dropping down to Horton. You could also do something very similar with a jaunt up Long Lane, eventually dropping down to Horton following the finger post at Dub Cote. The Helwith Bridge route alternative is marked in red on the route map below and, if you go that way, you follow the Ribble Way along the river to get back to Horton - passing a couple of good wild swim spots if you fancy a dip to finish with. If you start from Helwith Bridge, then the Ribble Way is a nice couple of flat miles to start with.

    I love this route - it throws two peaks at you back to back but there's loads of open fell running after that

    Last edited by Fellbeast; 20-05-2021 at 01:57 PM.

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