Pen-y-ghent is one of the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Certainly, many people walk to the summit of Pen-y-ghent as part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge (guide coming soon). But, it’s possible to do a half-day walk to Pen-y-ghent, which involves walking from Horton in Ribblesdale. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Pen-y-ghent Walk, which also visits Hull Pot (guide coming soon). For completeness, we’ll also talk about other walks and routes involving Pen-y-ghent.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For more information about walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks, read our guides about the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, the Ingleborough Walk and the Whernside Walk (coming soon).
Table of Contents
What is Pen-y-ghent?
Pen-y-ghent is the ninth highest fell in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Also spelt as Penyghent, this famous and well-known fell stands 694 metres above sea level. Its unique shape, resembling a crouching lion, means it’s even more recognisable than the highest fell in the Yorkshire Dales – Whernside. Indeed, alongside Ingleborough (the second highest fell in the Dales), Pen-y-ghent is one of the most recognisable landforms in the Yorkshire Dales.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do the approx. 39km Yorkshire Peaks Challenge to summit Pen-y-ghent. Instead, you can simply do the approx. 11km circular Pen-y-ghent walk from Horton in Ribblesdale. So, where exactly are Pen-y-ghent and Horton in Ribblesdale located?
Where Is Pen-y-ghent in Yorkshire?
Pen-y-ghent is located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in North Yorkshire in the northwest of England. Please click on the image below to access an interactive map on Google Maps.
The Ultimate Guide to Walking Pen-y-ghent
In this guide, we’re going to detail all of the essential information about the Pen-y-ghent Walk from Horton in Ribblesdale. Below, we’ll provide the trail specs and a link to a GPS-guided map. Then, we’ll talk about where to start the walk, before providing a trail description and showing you some awesome photos of the walk. After that, we’ll talk about other Pen-y-ghent walks and routes. Finally, we’ll cover some practical information, such as how to get there and what to wear.
Pen-y-ghent Walk Information
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 11km
- Time: 3.5–5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 515m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead/Parking: Horton in Ribblesdale Yorkshire Dales National Park Car Park
- Pen-y-ghent postcode (car park): BD24 0HF
- Map: AllTrails
Pen-y-ghent Walk Map
Here’s a map of the Pen-y-ghent walk route. Press on the image below to access a map with GPS-guided directions. Otherwise, here’s an ordnance survey map.
Pen-y-ghent Route Description
In the trail description below, we’ll talk about the highlights of the Pen-y-ghent Walk from Horton in Ribblesdale, whilst briefly detailing directions. Of course, simply follow the GPS-guided map linked above for actual trail navigation.
Anyway, let’s look at your options for parking in Horton in Ribblesdale – where the walk begins!
Parking For the Pen-y-ghent Walk: Horton in Ribblesdale
Most people park at the pay and display Horton in Ribblesdale Yorkshire Dales National Park Car Park. So, that’s where most people start the walk from. Indeed, this is considered the official Pen-y-ghent starting point. Paying £5 will give you parking access for more than two hours, which is what you’ll need timewise to complete the Pen-y-ghent Walk.
If you arrive early enough, it’s also possible to find free street-side parking on the right-hand side of this small road off the B6479. Of course, these spaces fill quickly as there is probably only enough space for around 8–10 vehicles.
The Pen-y-ghent Scramble
From Horton in Ribblesdale, you’ll follow a path heading towards Brackenbottom. You’ll soon reach an official Yorkshire Dales National Park signpost, signalling to turn left. By doing so, you’ll begin to ascend through the stunning Brackenbottom Scar. Having started the walk early, Beck and I were relieved to have the sun pop up, as we neared the base of Pen-y-ghent. Watching the sun rise and cover the opposing landscape in an orange tinge was simply superb.
You may have heard that climbing Pen-y-ghent is no easy feat. Well, to arrive at the Pen-y-ghent summit, you’ll need to ascend a steep set of steps and do some mild scrambling up some less defined points of passage. Honestly speaking, the minimal scrambling required is nothing too intense or difficult. If anything, this trail would be great for beginners wanting to gain some easily manageable trekking and scrambling experience.
Eventually, the random scrambling stops and you reach a more defined series of steps leading to the summit. You’ll find a trig point marking the Pen-y-ghent summit. On a clear day, expect far-reaching views of the Yorkshire Dales, especially to the north.
After enjoying the summit views, it’s time to descend the famous fell. Because we had started the Pen-y-ghent Walk early, we soon re-entered the cold shade void of sunlight, which made descending particularly cold and gruesome.
Soon, the descent seems to abruptly stop as you meander on a winding and mostly flat path. At around the 6.8km mark, you’ll notice a trail to your right. If you’re keen to check out Hull Pot before returning to Horton in Ribblesdale, then turn right.
Hull Pot and Hunt Pot
After turning right, you’ll find the mesmerising Hull Pot after 500 metres or so. It’s a collapsed cavern, and, most of the time, you’ll find a stunning waterfall there. But, after periods of heavy rainfall, the chasm can actually entirely fill with water, creating a temporary lake. Indeed, Hull Pot is a spectacular natural attraction and one that deserves to be better known. Near Hull Pot, you can also find Hunt Pot, which is a thin pothole.
Returning to Horton in Ribblesdale
After exploring Hull Pot, you’ll briefly retrace your steps. You’ll then join a defined country lane, called Horton Scar Lane, which guides you back to Horton in Ribblesdale. Along this lane, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of Pen-y-ghent. Arriving back in Horton in Ribblesdale signals the end of the Pen-y-ghent Walk. Well done, you’ve just conquered one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks! Are you now ready for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge?
FYI – one of the stages of the multi-day Pennine Way is from Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes.
Other Pen-y-ghent Walks
There are many other different walks and routes that involve summiting Pen-y-ghent. A slight route variation of the walk described above is the Pen-y-ghent Circular Walk, which simply avoids the out and back to Hull Pot.
Otherwise, there are many different walks that summit Pen-y-ghent from different starting positions or which also involve summiting other nearby landmarks. Let’s look at these other Pen-y-ghent walks below, starting with the well-known Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
For each of the different Pen-y-ghent walks, we’ll provide trail specs and a link to a map. Additionally, we’ve provided links to our own individual articles that we’ve written about some of these walks. So, if you want a bit more information about the walk, then please click on the link to access that individual article.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 39.2km
- Time: 9–14 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,500m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Map: Wikiloc
By doing the monster 39km Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, you’ll summit Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside.
FYI – the Pen-y-ghent Cafe used to offer a check-in and check-out system to officially record your time on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. But, the cafe has now been closed for a number of years.
Read more: The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge (coming soon)
Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 15km
- Time: 5–6 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 620m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Map: AllTrails
In terms of Pen-y-ghent day walk variations, this is one of the most popular alternatives. Starting in Horton in Ribblesdale, you’ll ascend Pen-y-ghent and also Plover Hill, which is the 13th highest fell in the Yorkshire Dales. Plover Hill is 680 metres above sea level, making it just a wee bit shorter than Pen-y-ghent. This is a more challenging walk given the longer distance, time and increased accumulated elevation gain.
Pen-y-ghent From Dale Head
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 6km
- Time: 2–3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 250m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Map: Wikiloc (incomplete, but you’ll get the gist of it)
This is a lesser-known walking variation starting in Dale Head. You’ll simply do an out and back of the fell from Dale Head. Please note, this route isn’t as common and we don’t particularly recommend it. But, it’s another known option.
Hull Pot Walk
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 6.4km
- Time: 2–2.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 210m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Map: AllTrails
If you simply walk to explore Hull Pot, then it’s possible to do a return walk from Horton in Ribblesdale. Because Hull Pot is becoming increasingly known, this out and back walk is becoming more popular.
Read more: Hull Pot (coming soon)
How to Get to Horton in Ribblesdale
The easiest and quickest way to get to Horton in Ribblesdale is to drive there yourself. As mentioned, you’ll park at either the Horton in Ribblesdale Yorkshire Dales National Park Car Park or find free street-side parking here. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are very easy to book online.
It’s also possible to use public transport to get to Horton in Ribblesdale. You can get a direct train to Horton in Ribblesdale from Leeds. Feel free to check the train times and prices here. We recommend using Trainline and Google Maps to plan your journey.
Although, personally, we don’t recommend using public transport to get to Horton in Ribblesdale, as it may be a slow and tedious journey, depending on where you’re travelling from. Also, services can be limited, particularly during the week. Certainly, it’s best to drive to Horton in Ribblesdale yourself.
Other Places to Visit in the Yorkshire Dales
If you want to see other fantastic natural places in Yorkshire, then you’ll have to see more of the breathtaking Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ve listed some of the other best places to visit and walks to do in the Dales (guides coming soon).
- Aysgarth Falls: explore the truly sublime Lower, Middle and Upper Aysgarth Falls.
- Cauldron Falls (West Burton Falls): a lesser-known waterfall that’s nearby Aysgarth Falls.
- Hardraw Force: one of the most famous waterfalls in Yorkshire after featuring in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
- Ilkley Moor: a famous moorland in west Yorkshire.
- Simon’s Seat and Bolton Abbey Waterfall: explore the epic rocky outcrop at Simon’s Seat and the underrated Bolton Abbey Waterfall in the Valley of Desolation.
- Ingleton Waterfalls Trail: of course, there are many waterfalls to see along the Ingleton Falls Trail.
- Cautley Spout: England’s highest waterfall above ground, can be seen on a walk around Howgill Fell.
- Brimham Rocks: an outstanding National Trust attraction, that’s best enjoyed on a short circular walk through the moorland.
- Conistone Pie and Dib Circular: a lovely circular walk taking in the limestone landscape surrounding the small town of Conistone.
- Muker Meadows Circular Walk: you’ll explore many waterfalls on this walk, including the brilliant upper and lower East Gill Force.
- Settle Circular Walk: from nearby Settle, you’ll visit Catrigg Force, Attermire Scar and Scalebar Force.
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Pen-y-ghent and the walk from Horton in Ribblesdale.
What Does Pen-y-ghent Mean?
No one actually knows what it means. It’s one of the few fells in England which has kept its name with pre-Anglo Saxon origins. It’s believed that Pen-y-ghent loosely translates to ‘Hill on the Border’. That’s because, in modern Welsh, ‘Pen’ means ‘top’ or head’. Whilst, ‘ghent’ could be translated as ‘edge’ or ‘border’.
How High Is Pen-y-ghent?
The Pen-y-ghent height is 694 metres (2,277 feet) above sea level.
How Long Does it Take To Climb Up Pen-y-ghent?
The Pen-y-ghent time to climb the summit is around 1.5 hours from Horton in Ribblesdale
Which of the Yorkshire Three Peaks is Hardest?
It’s a matter of opinion. Some people think Pen-y-ghent is the hardest to climb given its difficult ascent. But, others think Ingleborough is harder to climb.
Is Pen-y-ghent Hard to Climb?
For experienced hikers, Pen-y-ghent isn’t too difficult or challenging to climb. Sure, it’ll get you huffing and puffing. And, care must be taken. But, overall, the climb up this fell is of moderate difficulty.
Is Pen-y-ghent Dangerous?
It can be dangerous if the rocks and steps leading to the summit are slippery or wet. So, particularly during winter, and after periods of heavy snow or rain, you’ll have to take more care as the conditions are more dangerous.
Is Pen-y-ghent Dog Friendly?
Yes, but keep your pooch on a leash.
What to Wear and Take
These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Pen-y-ghent Walk.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
For a longer hiking gear list, read our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. For a list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.
Bonus Tips For Climbing Pen-y-ghent
- Pen-y-ghent weather: check the weather forecast before you go. This walk is much more enjoyable and safer in good weather conditions. You can check the weather forecast on Met Office or Mountain Forecast.
- Arrive early for free parking: as mentioned, free parking is available. As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
- Explore other nearby national parks: don’t just stop at the Yorkshire Dales. Head to the captivating Lake District (guides coming soon) or North York Moors National Park.
Please leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.
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