Ingleborough

Ingleborough

Ingleborough, one of the famous Three Peaks of Yorkshire, is arguably the most popular and most recognisable fell in the Yorkshire Dales.

Height (m): 724
Height (ft): 2375
Prominence (m): 427
Classification: Nuttall, Hewitt, Marilyn
Hill No: 2780
Grid Ref: SD740745
OS Map OL2
No. of Visits 9

Whole books have been devoted to Ingleborough. Certainly one web page cannot amply cover everything there is to say about what Alfred Brown called, “Yorkshire’s magic mountain” and which Wainwright described as, “The undisputed overlord of limestone country.”

Ingleborough from Southerscales
Ingleborough from Southerscales

Despite what many people seem to think it is not actually the highest summit in the Yorkshire Dales. That honour goes to Whernside which is 12m higher. As many have noted Ingleborough has the knack of looking much bigger than it is. This, combined with its distinctive profile make it the most popular mountain in the Pennines.

A close up of the summit of Ingleborough taken from Whernside
A close up of the summit of Ingleborough taken from Whernside

It is also often described as a ‘hollow mountain’. Deep below Ingleborough is a complex series of cave systems. These include the two show caves, Ingleborough Cave and White Scar Cave. Both are well worth a visit, the Battlefield Cavern of White Scar Cave especially being a spectacular sight. Mention must also be made of Gaping Gill, one of the largest underground caverns in Britain, which lies between Ingleborough Cave and Ingleborough itself.

Hundreds of straws on the roof of Battlefield Cavern deep below Ingleborough
Hundreds of straws on the roof of Battlefield Cavern deep below Ingleborough

Unlike Pen-y-ghent, the only other Pennine mountain that can rival Ingleborough in the popularity stakes, there are a variety of routes to choose from. The shortest is from the Old Hill Inn, Chapel-le-Dale which ends in steep zig-zag path from Humphrey Bottom. The longest is a roundabout route from Clapham that takes in a number of interesting features en-route including Trow Gill and Gaping Gill. Wainwright describes this route as, “the finest of all, a classic.”

The steep path climbing up from Humphrey Bottom
The steep path climbing up from Humphrey Bottom

Another common approach is from Ingleton via Crina Bottom. This is generally seen as being less interesting. Personally I didn’t try this route until my ninth visit to Ingleborough and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other routes, perhaps more often used for descent, are over Newby Moss, from Horton via Sulber Nick, or the ridge route over Simon Fell and Park Fell.

Ingleborough from Crina Bottom
Ingleborough from Crina Bottom

The top of Ingleborough is a large flat plateau with a number of features. It was once believed that the summit was the site of an Iron Age hillfort and indeed the name Ingleborough is Old English for ‘The fort on the peak hill.’ Nowadays it is more generally believed that the remains date from the Bronze Age and may have been ring cairns built for ritualistic purposes. Either way only those with a keen eye will make anything of the scattering of stones that represent these remains.

On the summit of Ingleborough
On the summit of Ingleborough

Situated close together at the summit are a sprawling cairn, an Ordnance Survey trig point and a cross shelter mounted with a topograph that was built in 1953 by the Ingleton Fell Rescue Team.

The summit shelter, cairn and trig point
The summit shelter, cairn and trig point

Situated near the edge of the plateau on the Ingleton side are the foundations of a building. Built as a ‘hospice tower’ for grouse shooters it was destroyed in 1830 during the drunken celebrations to marks its opening.

The remains of the 'hospice tower' on the western side of the summit
The remains of the ‘hospice tower’ on the western side of the summit

The view, when you are lucky enough to have one, is excellent in all directions. The trick though is to visit on a clear day. My success rate is sadly quite poor and out of nine visits I’ve only had a decent view three times and on the last occasion the wind was so bitter I couldn’t hand around long to enjoy the panorama. It is a confusing place in hill fog and care needs to be taken to ensure that you are heading off in the right direction.

Winter on the summit of Ingleborough
Winter on the summit of Ingleborough

Perhaps it is because I’ve been largely unlucky with the weather on Ingleborough that I don’t hold it in quite as high regard as say Whernside. In this I’m going against popular opinion. Perhaps a good clear day for an exploration of the limestone shelves below the summit and the dramatic cliffs of Black Shiver would change my mind.

Ingleborough from Scales Moor
Ingleborough from Scales Moor

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