Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales.

Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales.

He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales.

To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

STARTING from the pretty village of Clapham, heading past the cave, Gaping Gap and on to the ridge linking little Ingleborough with the main summit is in my opinion the best route up Ingleborough.

The return vis the limestone pavements completes what is one of the very best walks in the Dales.

Turn right from the car park, head up past the playground, cross the bridge over the river and continue up to the entrance of the Clapham estate. There is a small entrance fee to walk besides the lake and through the delightful woodland. It is worth it. The walk through the exotic woodland has a story to tell with much of the trees and plants originating in the far east. On emerging from the woods a short walk approaches Ingleborough Cave.

At 200 metres beyond the cave the track turns sharply left and heads North West through Trow Gill. Possibly formed by a collapsed cavern and the source of the original river from the upper slopes of Ingleborough Trow Gill is now dry, rocky with precipitous rocky sides. Clamber over the rock and after a further 200 metres pass through a stile and on to the open slopes of Ingleborough.

An excellent example of a limestone pavement is on the left. The path heads up hill, just west of north. However, before the steepest section of the climb a path heads off to the right leading to Gaping Gill, a 100 metre pothole and one of the most famous landmarks in the Yorkshire Dales. You could fit York Minster in the cave. The water that disappears in to the cave appears a mile downhill at Ingleborough Cave, a remarkable but typical feature of the limestone rock of the area.

Return to the main path and climb steeply to the cairn that marks Little Ingleborough. A lovely path then heads due north along a ridge for 300 metres before skirting to the right and climbing on to the vast summit plateau of Ingleborough at another prominent cairn. The rocky summit plateau of Ingleborough is featureless and in mist can be confusing. Head due west from the cairn for 220 metres to the large cairn, trig point and shelter of Ingleborough, the views are fantastic, particular to the north and west where the Lake District and Morecambe bay can be seen on a good day.

Keep to the northern rim of the summit plateau heading west to a rocky path next to a large boulder. After 50 metres the track divides. Take the right hand fork and join the main path to Horton. Follow this for 2 miles. Soon after a run down sheepfold and after a small river the path divides at a wall. Take the right hand fork (much fainter track) initially alongside the wall and soon enter a quite superb area of limestone pavements. I do not believe there is better in the country. After three quarters of a mile at a meeting of paths turn right on a grassy wide path. The path heads just south of west and drops slowly to a gate above Trow Gill. Here the path becomes a walled lane, follow it for the final one-and-a-half miles to Clapham.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 10 miles.

Height to Climb: 630m (2,345 feet)

Start: SD 745692. A large National Park car park 50 metres past the New Inn hotel.

Difficulty: Hard. A long day (take time to explore) with mixed terrain, particularly rough on the summit and through Trow Gill.

Refreshments: The New Inn in Clapham is nice for a pint.

Be Prepared:

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk.

You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors.