Morecambe to Clitheroe
From the seaside into the National Park
> From Morecambe take the A5105, then the A6 for 7 miles (11km) northwards to Carnforth.
Carnforth is a small Victorian market town on the west coast railway line to Scotland. The Lancaster Canal threads through the town providing fascinating towpath walks that quickly take you into the surrounding countryside.
Here, close to the A6 and the town centre, the marina is popular with canal enthusiasts and those just seeking peace and quiet. Craft can be hired here by the day or the week.
Places to stay in Carnforth
> Follow the unclassified road 2 miles (3km) to Warton.
Warton has an unusual claim to fame. George Washington had ancestors living here, and legend has it that the famous ‘Stars and Stripes’ come from the family’s coat of arms, which can be found in the 14th-century church.
Near Warton is 18th-century Leighton Hall, built on the site of an earlier medieval house. In 1826 the estate was bought by Richard Gillow, a distinguished maker of fine furniture, and the house is a treasure chest of priceless pieces.
Places to stay nearby
> Continue on unclassified roads, across the A6 just south of Burton-in-Kendal then join the B6254 at Whittington and follow to Kirkby Lonsdale.
Visiting Kirkby Lonsdale
Kirkby Lonsdale is a fascinating town to explore. Look out for the three-arched Devil’s Bridge spanning the River Lune. Possibly 13th-century, it is one of the finest ancient bridges in the country. John Ruskin, the 19th-century writer and painter, loved this area of the Lune valley. The ‘Ruskin Walks’, which start near the churchyard, are well signposted.
Cowan Bridge, just down the road, has further literary links, for it was here that novelists Charlotte and Emily Brontë endured a harsh boarding school education from 1823 to 1825. Now only a few cottages mark the site of the Clergy Daughters’ School, immortalised by Charlotte as Lowood in her novel Jane Eyre.
Places to stay in Kirkby Lonsdale
> Continue on the A65 for 6 miles (10km), then turn left on to the B6255 into Ingleton.
Ingleton thrives as a centre for visitors to the Yorkshire Dales. The limestone hills to the north are honeycombed with caves, many accessible only to experienced potholers, but White Scar Cave is open to everyone. It is below the heights of 2,373-foot (723m) Ingleborough which, with Whernside at 2,419 feet (737m) and Pen-y-ghent at 2,273 feet (693m), forms the most formidable trio of peaks in the Dales.
Places to stay in Ingleton
> Take the unclassified road along the foot of Ingleborough to Clapham.
Tiny Clapham is the unlikely Fleet Street of the Dales, for it is here that The Dalesman magazine is published. The village has a Yorkshire Dales National Park Information Centre, and like Ingleton is a noted potholing centre. To the north of the village is Ingleborough Cave, and the famous Gaping Gill pothole, 378 feet (115m) deep, with a central chamber large enough to hold a small cathedral.
Places to stay in Clapham
> From Clapham take the B6480 to the A65 and follow before branching off left to Settle.
Settle is an attractive town, with its picturesque narrow streets, secluded courtyards and Georgian houses. By far the most outstanding building is The Folly (1675), an extravaganza of windows and fine masonry. The 71-mile (114km) railway line from Settle to Carlisle runs through the Ribblesdale valley and is one of the most scenic routes in the country.
Just outside the town is Giggleswick Scar, a rock wall caused by massive earth movements millions of years ago. In 1838, the chance discovery of Victoria Cave led to the retrieval of many bones of prehistoric animals long extinct in the British Isles.
Places to stay in Settle
> Take the B6479 north from Settle, turn off right at Langcliffe on to unclassified roads to Malham Tarn and Malham.
Malham is a focal point for geographers and geologists, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Interpretation Centre is based here. Stroll up the Pennine Way to Malham Cove, a 250-foot (76m) limestone amphitheatre. It used to be a spectacular waterfall, but the river now crawls out at the foot of the cliff. To the east is Gordale Scar, an almost vertical gorge thought to be a collapsed cavern and boasting a dramatic waterfall.
Places to stay in Malham
> Follow the road from Malham to Gargrave, then take the A65 to Skipton.
This pleasant market town is dominated by Skipton Castle, one of the most complete medieval castles in England. It was originally built in Norman times and was partly rebuilt in the 1650s after being damaged in the Civil War. Opposite the castle entrance is the Craven Museum, with exhibits on geology and local folk history. Nearby, at Embsay, is the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway which runs over 20 locomotives.
Places to stay in Skipton
> Take the A59 to Clitheroe.
After the Civil War the small keep of Clitheroe Castle was presented to General Monk, and today it still stands boldly on its limestone knoll overlooking the town. The town itself was once filled with the sound of looms – first wool, then cotton brought prosperity in the last century. Pendle Hill, associated with the trial of several Lancashire women accused of being witches, rises to 1,828 feet (557m) on the east side of Clitheroe.