Dent & Ribblehead
Stats: 36 miles and 2240 feet of ascent
There are opportunities to take on liquids and carbs in Dent, Ribblehead, Ingleton and Kirkby Lonsdale.
This short loop trundles up Dentdale to emerge on the mysterious central plain of Ribblehead, drops down through shy Chapel-le-Dale then swings round the south-west extremity of the Dales with a final pull through equally shy Barbondale.
1. Park in Dent. Rattle over the cobbles, forking left in the village centre. The cobbles will tell you if you need to pump up your tyres because there are several cattle-grids to come. A good denture adhesive is recommended.
2. Follow the lane up through Cowgill, with the babbling River Dee on your right. At the top of the valley, a land straddled by viaducts, ignore the left turn to Garsdale Head and carry straight on, signposted towards Ingleton and Hawes. Climb steadily, under the Settle-Carlisle line, to the B6255 Hawes-Ingleton road.
3. Turn right, towards Ingleton, with an opportunity to stock up on carbs and hot drinks at the wayside van at Ribblehead. Good views of Ingleborough from here:
4. You could stick on the B-road to Ingleton but, for a quieter life, swing right where you see the sign “Chapel-le-Dale Church”. Contour the flank of Whernside pleasantly, apart from the occasional filling-loosening rattle over the grids. The retrospective views of Ingleborough are even more impressive (see top).
5. Drop steeply into Ingleton and turn right, past the waterfall walk centre and keep going until you reach the A65.
6. Again, you could go to Kirkby Lonsdale directly but it’s quieter to go straight over and follow the A687 through the charming village of Burton-in-Lonsdale.
7. When you reach the A683, turn right (although it’s effectively straight-on) signposted to Kirkby Lonsdale. You’ll soon re-join the A65 where the A683 zigzags left then right at Devil’s Bridge, towards Sedbergh. There’s another opportunity for nourishment here.
8. After a mile or so, take a right fork through Casterton, following signs to Barbon and Dent. The climb is gentle but with great views – look out for the Scafells peeping above Grayrigg if the weather’s clear. When you get to the bottom of Barbondale, at a forest, turn right and follow the valley all the way up before letting gravity haul you down into Dent.