Stainforth is a village in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. With the River Ribble running alongside the village (and Little Stainforth on the other side of the river) it is nestled under Stainforth Scar. It’s a couple of miles north of the market town of Settle, and 3 miles south of the Three Peaks capital of Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
The history books suggest that Stainforth was probably first settled in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods and has seen the coming and departure of the Brigantine Celts, the Romans, The Angles, Saxons and Norse. There is little evidence of them in the village now, however!
The name Stainforth is derived from the “stony ford” which linked the two settlements on either side of the River. Stainforth was formerly owned by Sawley Abbey and the monks developed the estate which prospered. In 1595 Edward Darcy received from 4 trustees acting under the previous owner, the manor of Stainforth Underbargh and 20 dwelling houses with land. He was Groom of the Chamber to Elizabeth 1 and was knighted by her. In the 1670’s Samuel Watson (one of the first Quakers in Settle) replaced the ford with the packhorse bridge which spans the right and the grassy patch which leads to Stainforth Force. At around the same time (1678) Samuel Watson erected the Quaker Meeting House in Settle which is the same building which is in use to this day.
The village of Stainforth contains a number of historic buildings. Across the road from Woodman’s there is the Riston House and the former stables next door which date back to 1687.
Across the river in Little Stainforth you can find the Knight Stainforth Hall which dates back to middle ages, with the current version having been built by Samuel Watson in 1649.
The village pub, the Craven Heifer was originally called The Packhorse as it sat at the junction of several packhorse roads, and has served travellers for several centuries.
By heading to the left out of the house, and heading towards the village green, just walking up to the left you will find the ancient walking track which starts to go up the hill towards Catrigg Force. The walled track rises up from Stainforth levelling at the moorland edge where a side path slips to the top of Catrigg Force. The force plummets into the chasm of Stainforth Beck.