Settle, Yorkshire – 24th March 2024

Strenuous Leader :  John                              Distance : 10 miles  

Total climbing for the day approx 400 metres (1,300 Feet)

We initially head out of Settle via Castlebergh Plantation, giving some amazing views of Settle. Heading north we then take the Pennine Bridleway to the sleepy village of Langcliffe and then continue north following the River Ribble to Stainforth Force (good place for a lunch stop!).  Heading out west we take the Dales High Way to Feizor and then start heading back home over the lovely Giggleswick Scar, finally returning to Settle via Giggleswick. Hopefully there should be time for a well-earned cuppa or foaming pint!

Leisurely Leader:  David                                   Distance : 8 miles

This walk will be plotted before our trip.

Easy Leader:  Susan                                                Distance: 5 miles

This walk will be plotted before our trip.


Like other market towns in the Dales, Settle developed and prospered through its situation between the livestock farming of the uplands and the mixed and arable farming of the lower parts of the valley, in this case the Ribble. Settle’s market charter goes back to 1249, granted for it to serve Ribblesdale and Craven. Market day is Tuesday, when the market square is filled with colourful stalls and is looked down on by the unusual two-storey Shambles, whose arches are probably mid-18th century, but whose cottages were raised by a storey late last century. Two factors contribute to Settle’s ‘family atmosphere’. It has remained small, compact and intimate, and it has been faithful to its past by not destroying those buildings from the late 17th century onwards which are so important a part of its character.

Following from the market place, the short streets – Constitution Hill, Castle Hill, High Street, Victoria Street and Albert Street, the old ways into town – reveal the yards, squares, cottages, small houses and workshops which represent the rapid growth in activity from 1780 onwards, when the development of local crafts, trades and industries reduced Settle’s reliance on farming.

The striking limestone scenery around Settle is a result of the numerous ‘faults’ in the geological strata, which have caused the characteristic ‘scars’ or cliffs of limestone to appear. Limestone is a hard rock, but it is very porous because of its cracked nature, and it gets eroded by a chemical reaction from acidic rainwater into many fantastic and dramatic shapes. Underground caves are formed this way. The long cliff that forms Langcliffe Scar is a ‘cross-fault’ running north-west from the main east-west Mid-Craven fault that is the major feature of the scenery around Settle.

The railway running up Ribblesdale, the Settle-Carlisle line, is regarded as one of the greatest feats of Victorian railway engineering. Built between 1870 and 1876, the line runs through some of the wildest and most beautiful scenery in England and a ride on it is highly recommended.

The attractive little village of Stainforth owes its name to the old stony ford across the river, now replaced by the packhorse bridge. The ford was on a major packhorse route between York and Lancaster, which was of considerable importance in monastic times. Stainforth Force is perhaps the most attractive fall on the Ribble. The river bed has been eroded into a series of steps and when the river is in full spate, a lovely cascade can be seen.

Remains of numerous 19th century lime kilns dot the area between Stainforth and Langcliffe, and, at Langcliffe Quarry, there is a well-preserved Hoffman lime-kiln. This impressive structure was in use from 1873 to 1939 to produce a constant supply of lime, used to fertilise the moors and improve grazing but mainly for use in industry. The well-preserved Hoffman kiln has a series of chambers in the oval-shaped tunnel. The fire progressed slowly around the tunnel, firing each chamber in sequence. The area has now been developed into an industrial heritage trail with information boards – well worth exploring.