Gearstones - Birkwith - Source of the Ribble - Blea Moor

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For those doing our series of Pennine Way walks, either this walk, or Walks 4517 and 4519 should be used.

We start at Gearstones Lodge, on the Ribblehead to Hawes road, then pick up the Ribble Way, taking it south as far as Birkwith. Some of the paths here are tricky to find and a 1:25 000 map and the ability to navigate using contour lines will be a distinct advantage. However, once you reach Birkwith, you'll be relieved to know that navigation from here on is a breeze.

At Birkwith, we cross to the Pennine Way and head north to Ling Gill Nature Reserve. This breathtaking tree-lined limestone gorge is worth taking time out to explore (though be careful of the steep sides). Its varied arboriculture is the result of the protection from grazing animals offered by those steep sides and such upland woodlands are very rare. The beck, which drops 30m as it descends through the ravine, is Cam Beck, a tributary of the Ribble. We cross Cam Beck a little farther up the Pennine Way at Cam Bridge - a lovely little spot to stop for a rest and a drink. If you're picnicking though, be warned that you still have a long way to go.

A little further up the Pennine Way, at a locale known as Cam End, we reach a footpath junction. Here, if you've had enough, you can turn left and be at your car in little more than ten minutes. However, we turn right onto the old Roman Road known as Cam High Road. Here we are joined briefly by the Dales Way, which soon leaves us by dropping into the valley while we continue to the top of Cam Fell.

Turning almost back on ourselves, we now start our search for the source of the River Ribble. The beck known as Jam Sike is reputed to be the Ribble's longest tributary and so the Ribble Way, which follows the river from sea to source, ends near here. Finding the actual source isn't as easy as you might think, because its height on the fell depends very much on recent rainfall. However, even when it has been dry, you should find something which you can point at and believe to be the source.

We now follow the Ribble Way down to the valley (excellent views that stretch as far as the southern Lakeland fells). We cross to Blea Moor and then walk back to Gearstones. There is some rougher walking in this stretch to finish with, I'm afraid.

England - North England - Yorkshire - Yorkshire Dales - Ribblesdale

Features

Great Views, Hills or Fells, River, Waterfall, Woodland
14/07/2016 - Barbara Howcroft

We did this walk yesterday (13.07.16). Good walk, lovely views. Instruction 1, once over the step stile, don't go left to a gate to the river, but go slightly right to a small metal gate which goes over a bridge. Much easier. Also Mr Garmin E Trex 30 got the mileage to 13.8. Very dog friendly.

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