Here I share some must see sights from day 6 of the Pennine Way, Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale. Firstly, you’ll walk up and over a natural wonder of the Yorkshire Dales, Malham Cove. Eagle eyed walkers may even spot a peregrine falcon in the cove. Next, stage 6 will take you past Malham Tarn and over Fountains Fell to the stunning Pen-y-ghent, one of Yorkshire’s 3 peaks. Be prepared for a near vertical climb of Pen-y-ghent before descending to Horton in Ribblesdale.
The first view we had of Malham Cove was from Pinhaw Beacon on the Pennine Way Stage 5. Of course we had a much closer view as we approached Malham later in that stage. Today we’ll walk right up to Malham Cove and take the stairs up beside it. Malham Cove is a tourist hotspot, however, if you set off early it’s likely you’ll have this natural wonder all to yourself.
Have you ever seen a peregrine falcon? These are the fastest animals on earth which can dive at speeds over 200 mph. Malham Cove is a top location in the UK to spot peregrine falcons but how can you see them? The one pictured above was nesting in an opening about three quarters of the way up the cove. Additionally, I’ve seen them sitting in the tree branches which grow out from the cove. Lastly, it’s easier to spot the birds from the top.
Natural Limestone Formation
Another iconic site at Malham Cove is the limestone pavement on top of it. As a matter of fact, an iconic Instagram shot is one from the top which follows the River Aire down the valley. To walk on top of the cove is a worthwhile little detour from the Pennine Way. Finally, take care walking on top of the clints which can be slippy and even unstable.
As you walk on towards Malham Tarn I’m sure you’ll notice lots of birds jumping about. Take a closer look and it’s likely these are northern wheatears.
Malham Tarn is the source of the River Aire. An incredibly clear path will take you towards the tarn and eventually beside it.
Malham Tarn Viewpoint
As you walk alongside Malham Tarn there’s a shaded forest area. In this area you’ll pass some sculptures of a fish, an owl and a hare. Who knows, you may also see the real thing!? What’s more, there’s a stunning viewpoint of Malham Tarn which makes a good place to sit down and take a rest.
Row of Trees en Route to Fountains Fell
Once you pass Malham Tarn, the Pennine Way heads over Malham Moor to Fountains Fell. When you leave the tarn you may notice a perfectly aligned set of trees. Not quite the Dark Hedges from Lord of the Rings but certainly eye catching.
Walk to Fountains Fell
As you head over Malham Moor, Fountains Fell looks quite imposing. However, the closer you get, the less the incline seems to be. You’ll pass quite a few typical Yorkshire barns on this section and if you’re lucky you may see a barn owl.
The true height of Fountains Fell is 668 meters tall. However, the Pennine Way does not reach the main summit but does pass a couple of cairns. All in all, the Pennine Way somehow sneaks up and around Fountains Fell without any serious inclines. The same cannot be said for our next mountain, Pen-y-ghent. Lastly, keep your eyes open for any red grouse which may be lurking in the moorland.
Yorkshire 3 Peaks Viewpoint
When you cross Fountains Fell you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of all 3 Yorkshire Peaks. Pen-y-ghent is our next destination while the one of the left is Ingleborough. Barely visible to the right is the highest peak in Yorkshire, Whernside. Enjoy this stunning view. I found a shaded spot half way down Fountains Fell to eat a little before continuing across the valley. As well as enjoying the view of Pen-y-ghent, I also had an aerial view of kestrels flying over the valley beneath me.
Silverdale Road / Pennine Way
The Pennine Way follows a typical Yorkshire country road for a short while in the valley bottom. I’m talking about a single lane road with grass either side of it like something from All Creatures Great and Small which isn’t filmed too far away.
Natural Limestone Formations
Malham Cove is famous for its limestone formations and of course it draws thousands of tourists. When you leave Silverdale road you’ll pass some limestone formations which no one knows about. As a matter of fact, you’ll definitely have these all to yourself.
Churn Milk Hole
Churn Milk Hole is a doline beside the Pennine Way. We’ll see a much bigger one after Pen-y-ghent.
Pen-y-ghent is 694 meters tall and the Pennine Way does cross the summit. However, it’s prominence is just over 300 meters so it’s not as high as you’d imagine. There’s a near vertical climb as you reach the summit which can be challenging with your heavy backpack. Just don’t lean backwards! Lastly, if the weather is bad with low visibility, wind and rain I’d consider taking a short cut left before Pen-y-ghent direct to Horton in Ribblesdale.
There’s a seating area at the summit of Pen-y-ghent. This is a good place to sit down, relax and enjoy the splendid Yorkshire Dales views. In fact, as I was identifying different points of interest a friendly skylark came and sat close by. One iconic Yorkshire Dales point of interest which is visible from the summit is Ribblehead Viaduct.
Pen-y-ghent Descent to Horton in Ribblesdale
The descent from Pen-y-ghent to Horton in Ribblesdale is a clearly marked downhill path. Although it’s all visible, when you’re walking, it seems much further than it looks. What’s more, the constant downhill makes it more challenging than the uphill to Pen-y-ghent. When you come to the bottom of the path, the Pennine Way heads left. If you take a detour right, in 100 meters you’ll reach Hull Pot.
Hull Pot is a worthwhile 100 meter detour from the Pennine Way. It’s the largest natural hole in England. My picture shows exactly how it looks. If you want to see this then take the small detour. Alternatively, head straight to Horton in Ribblesdale.
Yorkshire Dales Vibes
As I was walking on the Pennine Way to Horton in Ribblesdale farmers were herding sheep in the opposite direction. This is what you expect as you walk in the Yorkshire Dales.
The day started off in Malham Cove with a peregrine falcon. In a forest on the outskirts of Horton in Ribblesdale I finished the day off with a sparrow hawk sighting.
Horton in Ribblesdale
There are a few places to stay in Horton in Ribblesdale as well as Holme Farm Campsite. Additionally, there are a couple of cafes, a pub and a village shop where you can top up on snacks. Tomorrows destination is the famous Yorkshire town of Hawes where you’ll certainly be able to top up on supplies!
Pennine Way Stage 7 – Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes