Whernside

Date: 10 June 2019             Weather: 16’C, some sun between dramatic clouds, some wind

Height gain: 1,572ft           Distance: 8.3 miles

Time taken: 4 hours 20 mins

Route:  Anticlockwise from Ribblehead parking area just next to the refreshment van at the junction of the B6479 and the B6255 following the rail track to Bleamoor Sidings and walking almost the full length of Whernside before taking a left and heading up the mountain then all the way along the top of the whale back and back down to Bruntscar and Winterscales farm then under Ribbleshead Viaduct and back to the road.


We had had a week’s holiday in the Yorkshire Dales in June 2017 with the plan to climb each of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.  After our holiday we then headed for Inverness to provide the driving for my sister and her husband on their National Three Peaks challenge.  They had done the Yorkshire Three Peaks in October 2010 with us cheering from the sidelines – I’m not fit enough to do all three in under 12 hours.

They started their National Three Peaks attempt on 10 June 2017, so exactly two years ago.  They suffered from the same terrible weather we had had all week in Yorkshire – driving rain and gale force winds.  The weather on the first day of our holiday had been ok and we had a great walk up Ingleborogh.  A couple of days later we did Pen Y Ghent in 45mph winds – not too much fun.

On our last day we had set off up Whernside in rain and low cloud.  We had walked clockwise on that occasion and after a few wrong turns through the farmland had reached the start of the climbing when S said he really couldn’t be bothered when there was zero visibility and we resolved to come back and do it on our next trip to the Lakes.  It didn’t quite turn out like that, but here we are on a much nicer day two years and two days later.

It’s a cool day with some breeze and while it felt quite sunny there was dramatic looking cloud in the sky.  We had considered Whernside a few time recently, but it happened to be a Saturday or Sunday which doesn’t feel like a good idea in June (something like 3,000 people can be doing the three peaks walk at weekends at this time of year).  We decide that a Monday might be ok.  We park up no problem and are soon on our way leaving the fabulous Ribblehead Viaduct to our left:

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Having walked clockwise last time we haven’t been on this path before and find it’s very straightforward and quickly becomes very attractive with its stone walls and waterfalls:

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There are also great views of Ingleborough in the distance:

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In fact when I get home I find about 90% of my 54 photos for the day are shots of Ingleborough from different heights and angles – I was obviously very taken with it.

We start to gain height and the path is very well engineered and straightforward – no getting lost on today’s walk:

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Were making speedy progress for us – there’s a party of three with two dogs ahead of us and we slowly gain on them.  More frustratingly there are two young women behind us, one of whom shouts her constant conversation at the top her lungs throughout the climb.  We make a few pointed drinks stops hoping to let them past and move ahead of us, but when we stop they stop and they stay the same distance behind us all the way up.  Happily they don’t stop walking when they reach the top and carry straight on chattering as they go.

We finally reach the top after the somewhat lengthy route, and this is the only point of the day where we’re surrounded by other people:

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We see our first confirmed three peakers – two young men who tell us that the sunrise over Pen-y-Ghent was fabulous this morning – it’s only 12pm so they have done very well to get here already.  They don’t hang around as they set off towards Ingleborough.

It’s only us and the party of three who were just ahead of us who settle down for lunch – we both find good spots giving each other space – them at the shelter at the top and us a few metres down from the top sheltered against the wall.  Homemade pasties today – an experiment given the disappointment of any pasty other than the Apple Pie shop.  They’re not bad – declared the second best we’ve had (Apple Pie shop still comes first).

From here we can see Pen-Y-Ghent 14 miles to the east of us:

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And Ingleborough seven miles to the south of us:

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The walk to Ingleborough doesn’t look too bad, but not with 16 miles and two peaks already in your legs – I can only admire those fit enough to do the whole three peaks in one go.

We walk along Whernside’s top descending gently.  A few more three peakers start to come past us, but we only see about eight confirmed walkers all day – our Monday strategy has worked (and it wouldn’t feel right not to see any of them at all).  A couple of them are men walking on their own – that seems a bit sad to me, no-one to share the achievement or to encourage you when you’re flagging.

The path soon heads off to the left and straight down the front of the mountain – it’s very steep but has recently been re-engineered and is therefore not too challenging other than on the knees.  There’s notices about the work that’s been done and a collection box towards the bottom – we give generously and gratefully.  There’s a party of seventy-somethings coming up by this route – one tells us it never felt this steep in his younger days, but although finding it tough they are doing just fine.

We reach the farmland at the bottom and look back up at what we came down.  You can just make out the descent path to the left of the stony patches beneath the summit:

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We find a friendly boulder in the field and stop for afternoon tea – homemade brownies, yum.

The route finding through the farms seems more straightforward then when we started this walk in the opposite direction two years ago and we’re soon back at that fabulous Viaduct:

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We get back to the car in just over four hours – that’s fast for us, almost within guidebook suggested times – at least one has said allow 4.5 hours – not often we achieve times suggested for normal walkers!!