Ribblesdale is named after the River Ribble which starts its journey near the famous Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire. Nearby are the Three Peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
The river flows along the valley through villages like Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Helwith Bridge, Stainforth, Langcliffe and Settle before turning into Lancashire and the Ribble Valley, finally entering the Irish Sea near Lytham St Annes and Southport.
Landscape … and a bit of history
The head of valley is dominated by the stunning Ribblehead Viaduct which draws large numbers of tourists each year. Ribblesdale itself is characterised by limestone outcrops, the large rounded hills that make up the Three Peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside and an extensive network of caves and potholes.
The upper valley is poor farming land so there are few settlements and only scattered farms. Lower down the valley, however, the number of settlements and farms increase. Here farming has been the main activity for a thousand years since the Vikings settled in the area. Roads, lanes and tracks were created by the Romans, by monks from the major abbeys in the wider area, and extended in medieval times. Many of these ancient tracks are now green lanes to other of the dales like Wharfedale and Wensleydale.
Major towns & villages – an overview
This is a stopping point on the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway and there is a museum about the building of the viaduct in the station buildings. The source of the River Ribble is close by, and there is a great range of walks from Ribblehead through the rugged landscape.
The limestone geology has formed an extensive network of caves, including The White Scar Caves, Gaping Gill and Ingleborough Cave. And in Gaping Gill you’ll find the highest waterfall in England.
The rugged landscape attracts a wide range of of visitors and is especially popular with cavers, potholers and walkers. The village is also on the route of the Pennine Way and the Ribble Way long distance footpaths.
The town is also the starting point for the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway route from which travels through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales.
In the heart of the town is the lovely Waterfalls Trail which winds along the Rivers Twiss and Doe.