Moughton is a limestone encrusted hill which together with Thwaite Scars forms the sides of the lovely little valley of Crummackdale.
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Of all the sub-500m hills in the Yorkshire Dales National Park I would probably rate Moughton as my favourite. Its mixture of stunning and varied limestone scenery, together with a satisfying summit with a superb panorama, is irresistable.
Moughton is, along with Thwaite Scars on the opposite side of Crummackdale a distant child of Ingleborough. Moughton stands above Crummackdale to the west and Ribblesdale to the east. Running below the southern edge of Moughton is the road between Helwith Bridge and Austwick. In sharp contrast to its other three sides Moughton’s northern slopes drop gently down towards the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve and Sulber Nick.
The Ribblesdale side of Moughton has and continues to be heavily quarried for limestone. Dry Rigg Quarry, Arcow Quarry and Horton Quarry have all taken deep gouges out of the hillside. Although this aspect of Moughton has been severely marked by these quarries there is something undeniably impressive about the sheer scale of these works. The view down into Dry Rigg Quarry, for instance, from the path leading up to Moughton Nab is certainly dramatic.
Away from the quarries Moughton has plenty of undisturbed limestone scars. These include Moughton Nab and Moughton Scar to the south, Studrigg Scar to the west and Long Scar which cuts across the summit plateau. Joining Moughton to Thwaite Scars at the head of Crummackdale is the majestic Moughton Scars.
In addition to its limestone scars Moughton also features some of the finest limestone pavements in the Yorkshire Dales – which is saying a lot! The best of these are to be found to the north of the summit and behind Moughton Scars. Walking across these limestone pavements is huge fun but care needs to be taken as it would be all too easy get ones ankles caught in the grikes.
Another of Moughton’s delights is the miniature forest of juniper trees that can be found a few hundred metres north of the summit. Few of the trees reach more than six feet in height. The small scale of the trees is positively lilliputian and makes one feel like a giant. I struggle to think of anywhere else in the Dales quite like it.
The summit of Moughton is marked by a large cairn and a trig point within a few feet of each other. The 360 degree panorama is excellent with Ingleborough to the north-west and Pen-y-Ghent to the north-east both dominating the view. So far, out of four visits to the summit I’ve never seen anyone else, definitely a mark in Moughton’s favour for those who wish to escape from the more popular hills in the Dales.
The summit can be reached from a number of directions although it must be said that there is no path as such to the top so it could be a bad place in hill fog. The route I took on my first three visits was via the bridleway leading north from Wharfe, this is left after a short way to take the path below Studrigg Scar. In turn this is left to take a thin path, unmarked on the map that climbs steeply up alongside the dry waterfall on Studrigg Scar.
On my fourth visit I took the path up alongside Dry Rigg Quarry on to Moughton Nab. This path, steep in places, seems to terminate on the map below the cliffs on the Nab. However a small notch alongside the wall provides an easy way up. Other possible options include using the path south from Sulber or from the footpath that climbs out of the head of Crummackdale on to Capple Bank and Moughton Scars.