Ribblehead Viaduct, Yorkshire


Chapel le Dale

(Old School Bunkhouse),

Yorkshire Dales

16th - 18th May 2008 

  A domesticated Alpaca in North Yorkshire.

The mountains of Whernside at 736 metres, Ingleborough at 723 metres and Pen-y-Ghent at 694 metres are collectively known as the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The peaks, which form part of the Pennine range, encircle the heads of the valleys of the River Ribble and of Chapel-le-Dale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The bunkhouse at Chapel-le-Dale has been frequented by the club each year for the last 4 or more. Walkers on a visit to this neck of the woods generally attempt one or more of the Three Peaks in any given day, requiring an early start, unless of course, they are doing the Pennine Way itself. In "The 3 Peaks Challenge" walkers aim to complete a gruelling 37.5 km to 42 km (depending on route) circuit of all three peaks with nearly 1,600 m of ascent and descent within 12 hours, starting and finishing at the same point. Having personally never done all three myself and having only been up Whernside and Ingleborough (with Pen-y-Ghent in 2009), the plan for the Saturday walk involved the effective circumnavigation of Whernside, ending with us taking the train back from Dent station.


View down the B6255 towards Ingleton, from the Old School Bunkhouse, Chapel-le-Dale.


The group congregate at Chapel-le-Dale Old School Bunkhouse, prior to commencing the walk: (L-R) John Robertson, Peter Mathews Martin Lighten, Bernard Gardiner, Andy & Maeve Weber, Tim Porter and in front, Vanda Ralevska & John Adams.


Farm along Philpin Lane, shortly after leaving the Old School Bunkhouse - Whernside lies beyond.


Along Philpin Lane heading towards Ribblehead Viaduct.


View back towards Chapel-le-Dale with Ingleborough over to the left (just out of picture).


Ribblehead Viaduct in the mist.


We set out along Philpin Lane from the back of the bunkhouse which we soon left, heading on a path through several farms towards Ribblehead Viaduct and Ribblehead, an area of open, exposed moorland at the head of the River Ribble in Ribblesdale (as the are is known) in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Just down the B6255 from Chapel-le-Dale, Ribblehead is most notable for Ribblehead railway station and Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle to Carlisle railway. It is possible to cross underneath the railway line at the viaduct itself or at Blea Moor sidings, a short walk from Blea Moor Signalbox. We reached the aqueduct and crossed the instant a train cam hurtling from within the railway tunnel up ahead, near Smith Hill.  This is where the route splits; however, instead of taking a path up Whernside towards the tarns, we continued along Great Wold, whereupon Deepdale comes into view, leading to the descent down the hillside towards the town, past Whernside Manor. If my memory serves me correctly, we continued up the valley along the narrow country road towards the village of Dent without actually reaching it, turning instead towards Cowgill and Dent station beyond and above it.




Sheep graze within sight of Ribblehead Viaduct.


Farmhouse along Winterscales Beck, the slopes of Whernside above and to the right.


Blea Moor Signalbox; On the path approaching Blea Moor Signalbox.


View back along path, obscuring Blea Moor Signalbox.


Dent is a small village and civil parish in Cumbria, nestling in a narrow valley on the western slopes of the Pennines within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Dent village is approximately four miles to the west, and 122 metres below the height of the station, with Cowgill being the nearest village, around half a mile away. At an altitude of 351 metres, Dent station is the highest station on the National Rail network in England. Dent station buildings are available to rent as holiday cottage accommodation. It was originally closed in May 1970 but was reopened in 1986 following a campaign to maintain regular stopping services along the line. On weekdays there are five trains in each direction, with six each way on Saturdays and three each way on Sundays.


Blea Moor Signalbox and the summit of Ingleborough clearly visible to the left.


Ingleborough from Blea Moor.


Train emerging from Blea Moor tunnel .


Along Craven Way track heading towards Deepdale, John Adams checks out the construction of his new retreat in the Yorkshire Dales.


View across the valley on the descent down into Deepdale.


Along the descent on the track down from Whernside towards Deepdale.


On the last section of the walk before the ascent towards Dent station, before passing through the village of Cowgill, we passed a stately home where a number of domesticated Alpacas, a species of South American camelid, had gathered at the main gate.  Alpacas look like a small llama in superficial appearance; however they differ in that alpacas have straight ears and llamas have banana-shaped ears. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, alpacas were not bred to be beasts of burden but were bred specifically for their fibre. Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of Ecuador, southern Peru, northern Bolivia, and northern Chile at an altitude of 3500 m to 5000 m above sea-level, throughout the year. It appears that Alpaca farming is quite widespread across the United Kingdom. Close to Lake Ullswater, the Alpaca Centre, set in rolling countryside, is a beautiful place to see alpacas and a chance to discover so much more... The Alpaca Centre is the only one of its type in Europe and has been developed to expand knowledge of the Alpaca, its products and its viability as a farm animal for fibre production. In fact, the 15-acre Daleside Alpacas farm (see link below) is proud to be a member of the British Alpaca Society and the Yorkshire Alpaca Group.


Deepdale Valley towards Dent.


Deepdale Valley.


Upon reaching Dent station after a steep walk up the incline, we waited more than half an hour for the train to arrive and then enjoyed the ride through the tunnels past Blea Moor Signalbox, where we had walked earlier, until we finally reached Ribblehead Station. It was a short walk back to the Old School Bunkhouse at Chapel-le-Dale, although some took the path once more via Ribblehead Viaduct.


It's all been to much for John and Martin; The classic image of Vanda, smiling, with camera in hand.


Cattle grazing in Deepdale Valley.


This idyllic cottage is home to someone in this neck of the woods.


The last stretch towards Dent Station.


Martin and Peter engaged in conversation on the walk; Approaching the village of Cowgill and Dent Station, the highest in all of England.


A domesticated Alpaca is indeed a strange sight in North Yorkshire.


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