A great sense of achievement comes with standing on the summit of “Yorkshire’s Everest”.
Whernside (2,415ft above sea level) took the title from 2,585ft Mickle Fell in 1974 when the then-highest point in Yorkshire was given to County Durham in boundary changes. Whernside is the highest of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks, and this walk - well-placed for passengers arriving at Ribblehead station on the Settle-Carlisle line - follows the classic path taken by thousands of walkers each year. The early stretch passes the famous Ribblehead Viaduct and Blea Moor Tunnel and provides good views of Force Gill waterfall and Whernside Tarn. The path is well signposted and mostly well-maintained, and the ridge walk over the summit is infallible in low cloud thanks to an accompanying wall. Ravens are the most likely birds encountered on high ground, lapwings lower down.
1. If starting from Ribblehead station walk down the access track and turn right on the B6255 road. On the other side of the cattle grid cross the road and take a track leading towards Ribblehead Viaduct. (If starting from the car park, turn left for a short distance. Opposite the T-junction take the Three Peaks footpath towards the viaduct and turn right on the track.) When the track bends to pass beneath the viaduct take the right fork signposted Whernside 4 1/2 miles.
2. Cross the footbridge over Little Dale Beck and swing right to follow the track, crossing the railway line in sight of Blea Moor Tunnel. Go up stone steps and a long sloping gravel path to a stile on the left. Go over the stile and follow the clear path onto the plateau beneath the main ridge of Whernside. As it gains height the path swings left, eventually following a fence and wall to the summit.
3. Leave the summit with the wall on your right and proceed downhill. At a steep section the path swings left away from the wall. Descend with great care, passing through gates to reach a junction of paths at Bruntscar Farm. Turn left here and go through a gate to follow the bridleway, signposted to Winterscale, along the foot of Whernside.
4. Continue past the farmhouse at Ivescar and turn right to follow the bridleway signposted to Winterscales Beck. Continue along the farm road and turn left to pass through a metal gate. Cross the beck by a bridge, continue past a converted barn on the right and follow the track beneath the viaduct and then right to return to the car park or station.
Difficulty rating: 4 stars
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 4 hours
Maps: OS Explorer (1:25000) OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas, or
OS Landranger (1:50000) 98 Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale.
Parking: Numerous roadside spaces at Ribblehead, east side of B6479 and B6255 junction. Grid ref SD765792; closest postcode LA6 3JF.
Public transport: Ribblehead is on the Settle-Carlisle line served by trains from Leeds and Skipton. For times visit www.settle-carlisle.co.uk or phone Traveline on 0871 2002233 (charges apply).
Toilets: For refreshments customers