The second MDB Walk has combined a few of Dad's fave things; Railways, the Dales and Rivers. Dad's love of all things riparian lead him to visit some beautiful places, as Victorian Westward Ho! And Water Babies Author, Clergyman and keen Angler Charles Kingsley wrote “The traveler fancies he has seen the country. So he has, the outside of it at least; but the angler only sees the inside. The angler only is brought close, face to face with the flower and bird and insect life of the rich riverbanks, the only part of the landscape where the hand of man has never interfered.”
The Dales and particularly the Ribble country held a constant fascination to Dad. The Ribble from its source to sea runs trough some beautiful and rich north country landscapes, and the most spectacular part we always felt was the area that runs from Horton-in-Ribblesdale (Horton) to Settle. On a fish stock point of view The Ribble is also a very rich habitat as it contains an assortment of fish but most notably Grayling, Brown and Sea Trout and the magnificent Atlantic Salmon.
A good map and guide for this walk can be found here: http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/outandabout/gettingactive/walking/shortwalks/Horton-to-Settle.pdf
I think the best way to arrive in Horton is on the train, services run frequently from Leeds and therefore is well connected to anywhere in the country. The train option enables you to forget about the car parking issue and with a good station at Settle to carry you home at the end of the day it is what I call a "no brainer".
The Ribble gives its name to one of The Dales famous landmarks, The Ribblehead Viaduct. Which is just a little way further up the track from Horton.
Horton is home to one Yorkshire's three peaks Pen-y-Ghent, this mountain dramatically looms over the Ribble as you start this walk and gives name to the famous brew stop, best visited before setting away.
The walk starts off by taking you through a little gateway at the side of the bridge near the village car park then across a field full of symbolic Yorkshire Dales Swaledale Sheep and then along the river edge.
Pen-y-Ghent remains very present on the landscape as you walk along.
The walk is well signposted with the 'Ribble Way' markers making it easily followed with a copy of the OS Explorer OL2 map and a dose of common sense.
The edge of the river becomes a wooded strip. You have to go with care as you pick your way through the tangle of tree roots.
You are made very aware that this is an Angler's River when you see a variety of signage warning of 'Private Fishing'.
Then you come across a very poignant and befitting reminder, a stone bench, that Dad is not the only Angler to be remembered today.
The Ribble isn't the only linear landmark that you are following for a portion of this walk you are on occasion reminded of the railway line that runs a regular train service to Carlisle.
The close proximity of the train track and the Ribble is very obvious when you find your way Helwith Bridge.
From Helwith Bridge the Ribble Way takes you up track to an area of upland, back of Bargh Hill (342m), that enables some clear views over this part of the Dales.
This upland stretch was seriously muddy, this time I thankfully remembered my Gaiters.
We passed a few small becks and waterfalls. The waters from these would, in turn, I'm sure have ended up being added to the Ribble at some point.
We encountered some hardy and friendly cattle on the tops too.
And a comedy style... Should we cross over the rather redundant style or walk through the massive gap in the fence?!
The path across the field brings you down into the pretty village of Stainforth, where we found the very welcoming Craven Heifer pub http://www.thecravenheiferhotel.co.uk/ and an even more welcoming pint of Thwaites 'Wainwright', well... it would have been rude not to partake. As we drunk we chatted to the lovely landlady who was very touched by the whole MDB Walk idea. As we left she offered me some encouraging and kind words that will always stay with me, thank you.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from good beer, an open fire and lovely company but I'm glad we did as we set back off we passed over National Trust property, Stainforth Bridge.
The pathway leads along the river bank, through fields, passed some small waterfalls to a Weir at the village of Stackhouse.
From Stackhouse it is a straightforward last leg towards Settle. As you approach Settle you are faced with sports pitches and as you glance behind you are reminded that you have traveled this route and your destination is a more populated one, set in a stunning location none the less.
As you walk along the river bank towards the Railway Station in Settle you pass over the Memorial Bridge and you are given a powerful final glimpse of the river that you have been following the whole day, The Ribble.
As I walked this familiar route I felt very close to the man that inspired my visit, my Dad.