Ribblehead Viaduct, Walks, Satnav & More (2023)

The Ribblehead Viaduct is a 7 miles (9 minutes) drive from Ingleton village in North Yorkshire. You’ll see the stunning Victorian showpiece of 24 arches, built between 1870 and 1876. Ribblehead Viaduct address satnav postcode: Ribblehead, Carnforth, LA6 3AS.

Ribblehead Viaduct photo

Ribblehead Viaduct is a masterpiece of British Victorian engineering. The 440-yard viaduct was built to by the Midland Railway to carry rail traffic between England and Scotland.  Work on the foundations began in 1870 with the first stone being laid in October.  The construction cost was £343,000 and was completed in 1876.  2,300 men were employed with more than 100 men losing their lives during construction.  The viaduct is 980 ft above sea level on Batty Moss moorland and is very exposed to the prevailing westerly wind. There are 24 arches and it is 104-ft above the valley floor at its highest point. The arches have a span of 45 ft each and the foundations are 25 feet deep.  

In the 1980s Ribblehead Viaduct was marked for closure but the British politician Michael Portillo (and now TV personality) was Transport Minister at the time. He’s a rail enthusiast and he overturned the closure policy. Regular heavy freight trains currently use the route avoiding congestion on the West Coast Main Line. Timber trains, and stone from Ingleton quarry, pass over the Ribblehead viaduct as do special enthusiast excursions.

Great Ribblehead Viaduct Walks to Try

Ribblehead Heritage Walks

Ribblehead Heritage Tours are organised and run by Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line volunteers. The Friends of the Settle Carlisle line offers a year-round programme of guided walks and short walking tours from stations on the Leeds – Settle Carlisle and Leeds – Lancaster – Morecambe railway lines. All of these walks and tours are free of charge (excluding travel costs) and there is no need to book in advance. The volunteers have shops at Settle and Appleby and signal boxes at Settle and Armathwaite.

Some tours also visit archaeological sites in the Ribblehead Viaduct area, including the workers’ temporary shantytowns of Inkerman, Batty Green, Sebastopol and Belgravia, the isolation hospital, narrow-gauge tramway and the maintenance shed for narrow-gauge steam locomotives and also clay-pits, brickworks and stone sorting area. Friends of the Settle-Carlisle https://www.foscl.org.uk/

Ribblehead Viaduct Circular Local Walk

If you prefer not to go on a heritage tour, you can embark on a circular walk around the famous Ribblehead Viaduct landmark in the Yorkshire Dales. The impressive Ribblehead Viaduct carries the Settle-Carlisle Railway across Batty Moss (old English word for the bog, or water-logged ground) River Ribble Valley at Ribblehead. The Grade II listed structure is noted as one of England’s greatest monuments to Victorian engineering. It is a hugely picturesque spot with the viaduct structure surrounded by imposing Yorkshire peaks.
You can begin your walk from the car park just to the south of the viaduct, off the B6255 road. You can also travel to the viaduct by public transport by train to Ribblehead railway station. It’s an interesting small station with a shop selling memorabilia and a Visitor Centre which includes exhibits about the history of the line and the fight to keep it open.
From the car park, footpaths head north on the eastern side of the railway line to Winterscales Farm, where you turn south-west towards Broadrake, before crossing Winterscale Beck and heading back towards the viaduct.

Ribblehead Railway Station and The Station Inn at Ribblehead

You can enjoy refreshments at The Station Inn at Ribblehead – Address: The Station Inn, Ribblehead, Low Sleights Rd, Carnforth. Postcode LA6 3AS. Tel  015242 41274

Ribblehead Station Inn signpost distances to various summits

Whilst at the Station Inn at Ribblehead and you have a ticket for a train which is due to depart shortly, do let their staff know and they will kindly recommend dishes that take less time to prepare. They have an excellent selection of cask beers – the very best of locally brewed ales. The Yorkshire stone pub overlooks the viaduct and has free parking. https://www.thestationinnribblehead.com/

Ribblehead Station Inn Car Park

The Station Inn at Ribblehead pub has a car park for 50 vehicles. Camper vans are welcome for overnight stays. The Station Inn at Ribblehead is also a popular stop for cyclists who like to ride the miles of green lanes that cross the Yorkshire Dales. The Station Inn at Ribblehead and is also a favourite destination for touring motorcyclists enjoying the stunning local routes. There is plenty of common land at the back of the pub, and Ribblehead Railway Station is directly opposite the pub with train connections including to Carlisle and Glasgow to the north and Manchester, Leeds and London to the south.

To extend your walking in the area you could continue west and visit Twistleton Scar where there is some splendid limestone scenery.

Walking Whernside from The Station Inn at Ribblehead

The Whernside walk can be started from The Station Inn at Ribblehead’s car park. One of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the mountain stands at a height of 2,415 ft (736) m with superb views towards the Lake District and the north-west of England coast. There is a circular walk from the Ribblehead Viaduct over Whernside, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The walk follows the ‘Three Peaks Walk’ path for most of its route, initially following the Settle to Carlisle railway line, before heading up on the path towards Dent. The path then rises over Knoutberry Hill before following a wall to the summit of Whernside. The panoramic view from the top takes in Pendle Hill to the South, round to Morecambe Bay and then the Lakeland Fells and Howgills. The return walk is via a steep drop to Bruntscar, before leaving the Three Peaks path to turn left eventually, passing Winterscales to emerge from a tunnel under the railway. The outbound path is followed for the short journey back to the pub car park.

Twin Peaks Walk

Twin Peak walk of The Whernside and Ingleborough Circular Walk starts and finishes from Ribblehead Viaduct and takes you up to Park Fell and Simon Fell before traversing two of the famous Three Peaks.

Long Distance Paths near to Ribblehead Viaduct

The long-distance walks of the Dales Way and Ribble Way both pass near to the Ribblehead Viaduct so you could join these splendid paths to further explore the majestic Yorkshire Dales National Park and into nearby Lancashire and Cumbria.

The Dales Way

The Dales Way runs for 80 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, following mostly riverside paths and passing through the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the foothills of the southern Lakeland to the shores of Lake Windermere.

There are also three Link Routes, leading from the centre of the West Yorkshire cities of Bradford and Leeds and from Harrogate in North Yorkshire to the start of the Dales Way at Ilkley.

There is also a popular alternative route across the watershed between Cam Houses and Upper Dentdale which uses the Pennine Bridleway.

The Ribble Way

The Ribble Way follows the valley of the River Ribble from the mouth of the river to the source near to the Pennine Way National Trail on Gayle Moor.

From the tidal marshes at the coast, the Ribble Way route passes Preston, Ribchester, Clitheroe, with views of Pendle Hill, Settle and Horton-in-Ribblesdale to finish beneath the Yorkshire Three peaks of Ingelborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent.

At Horton-in-Ribblesdale – a small village to the west of Pen-y-Gent, the Pen-y-Ghent Café (BD24 0HE), maintains a register of signatures and comments by those taking part in the walk.

Yorkshire Dales 3 Peaks Walk

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Walk is a circular rewarding walk taking in Ribblehead viaduct views and covering the three peaks

Yorkshire Three Peaks Heights

  • Pen-y-ghent (694 metres – 2,276 feet)
  • Whernside (736 metres – 2,415 feet)
  • Ingleborough (724 metres 2,375 feet)
  • 24.5 miles. 1,580m total height gained

Yorkshire Three Peaks Average Time To Walk

  • Average time to complete the Yorkshire 3 Peaks walk is 10.5 hours
  • Aim is to complete the route inside 12 hours
  • Common finish time is around 9 to 14 hours

Which of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks is Easiest?

Pen-y-ghent is the easiest to hike so is a popular choice for a less challenging ramble.

The Three Peaks Walk or Pen-y-ghent only walk can start from the pay and display National Park car park (Gray Bridge) in Horton in Ribblesdale near the Pen-y-ghent Café on the B6479

There is no postcode for your satnav with this National Park Car Park – use the postcode for the Pen-y-ghent Cafe – BD24 0HE – about 150m away from the cafe. The Yorkshire dales National Park car park has free toilets and a 7kW PodPoint electric vehicle charging stationmarked on the PlanPlacestoVisit.com map below.

Horton-in-Ribblesdale Car Park, Toilets and 7kW EV Charger

If the National Park Car Park is full, an alternative car park is usually available in Horton-in-Ribblesdale – local farmers and hotels charge a small fee (usually £3-£5) to park on their property.

Click the sharing icon – top right on the map below to inform your walking party via Facebook, Twitter or email

By Train – Skipton to Horton-in Ribblesdale takes 31 minutes and is then a short walk to the car park rendezvous point, passing the Crown Hotel.

Three Peaks Walking Route

Walking advice notice in the Pen-y-ghent cafe window
Wise advice notice in the Pen-y-ghent cafe window

Most walkers start at Horton in Ribblesdale, walking the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in this order:

  • 1 Pen-y-ghent
  • 2 Whernside
  • 3 Ingleborough
  • Total Three Peaks distance is 24.5 miles
  • Total Three Peaks elevation gain is 1,568 metres
Yorkshire 3 Peaks Walking Route: 1st Pen-y-ghent, 2nd Whernside, 3rd Ingleborough
Your first Yorkshire 3 Peak to walk is Pen-y-ghent

After Pen-y-ghent, descend to the splendid Ribblehead viaduct to tackle Whernside which is the second fell of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

The Three Peaks direction sign at the Ribblehead Viaduct

The third and last of the Yorkshire Three Peaks is Ingleborough

Cruciform shaped shelter on the summit of Ingleborough with centre bronze toposcope plaque
Now you’re on welcome final 3 Peaks descent from Ingleborough to Horton-in-Ribblesdale!

Black Sheep Pub under Ribblehead Viaduct

Black Sheep Brewery has opened the Breathe Inn, their pop-up pub at Ribblehead Viaduct – they call it the “Freshest beer garden in Yorkshire.” They serve Black Sheep Respire Ale under the arches of Ribblehead Viaduct.

The Breathe Inn is a great pit stop and Respire is Black Sheep’s first carbon-neutral cask beer.

In addition to Black Sheep Brewery’s visitor centre bar and bistro in Masham, they also own and operate The Three legged Mare and Last Drop in York and Mr Foley’s Tap House and Black Sheep Tap & Kitchen in Leeds.

Interested in a future trip to Whitby and Staithes on the dramatic Yorkshire Coast? Check out our information here.

Interested in a future trip to Scarborough? Discover the new Bike and Boot Hotel – superb facilities for all – especially for cyclists, walkers – and dog owners.