Whernside and the Craven Wold.

Start. Ribblehead.

Route. Ribblehead - Bleamoor Sidings - Blue Clay Ridge - Force Gill - Grain Ings - Cable Rake Top - Whernside - Cable Rake Top - Knoutberry Hill - Whernside Tarns - Boot of the Wold - Craven Way - Duncan Sike - Craven Wold - Force Gill Ridge - Little Dale - Blue Clay Ridge - Bleamoor Sidings - Ribblehead.

Notes. Whernside at 2414ft the highest of Yorkshire's three peaks, some would say the uninteresting even dull sibling, oh how little do they know. Come for a wander with me on a gorgeous Yorkshire Dales day, we'll turn our backs on the tourist route and explore some of Whernside's secret corners.

I left Ribblehead via the unavoidable tourist path, across Batty Green passed the many arches of the Ribblehead Viaduct I wandered, the path ascended into Little Dale. With Bleamoor Sidings to my left I strolled on soon reaching the elegant Force Gill Aqueduct. The foot-path and the waters of Force Gill cross the railway here just below the south entrance to Bleamoor Tunnel, I crossed to be greeted by a splendid cascade. Force Gill waterfall plunges 20ft draining the mosses of Greensett, little visited but passed by many it marked the point I stepped from the path. A faint path climbed the hillside, this sometimes invisible trod guided me along the valley cut by Force Gill, the clear waters and many cataracts my ever present companions. On reaching the upper fall, a 20ft water chute I ascended a grassy ridge, this unassuming ridge guided me above wet ground to re-join the main Whernside trod.

Once on the summit the views were quite jaw-dropping, Kingsdale, Dentdale, Ribblesdale, the hills of the Lake District stretched out across the northern skyline, the Howgill Fells and to the west the sparkling waters of Morecambe Bay. Somewhat inebriated on breath-taking views I re-traced my steps across the summit ridge, when the wall ended a small stile allowed access to Knoutberry Hill, I crossed said stile before descending to Whernside Tarns. There's some stunning views to be had over Dentdale from the western edge of the escarpment, I wandered over to drink them in before descending to Boot of the Wold where I accessed the Craven Way.

The Craven Way is an excellent path, a 17th century drove road linking Dent and Ingleton, once used by pack horse trains hauling loads of coal, wool and farm products, it guided me back through long shadows and fading light via Duncan Sike, Seavey Bottom and Force Gill Ridge to the bar of the Station Inn at Ribblehead.

view route map.


Whernside as seen from Batty Green.

The formidable north face of Ingleborough seen from Bleamoor Sidings.

Force Gill Aqueduct with views to the flat top of Ingleborough.

The past endeavors of man leave scars on the landscape, these spoil heaps mark the line of the railway deep under Bleamoor, excavated to provide air vents.

Passed by many, visited by few, Force Gill waterfall.

Wandering through the vast emptiness of Greensett and Grain Ings, with the lonely cry of the mountain birds for company and the forever tumbling waters of Force Gill.

The upper falls a wonderful 20ft water chute.

I've just escaped the confines of the gill to be greeted by this view, a snow covered Whernside summit ridge.

Sitting in the palm of the mountains icy hand, Greensett Tarn.

A wonderful view across Dentdale to Great Knoutberry Hill and beyond.

Carrying a little snow Great Coum.

The stunning view across Dentdale taking in Aye Gill Pike and the Howgill Fells.

Delightful secret corners, Whernside Tarns looking to Rise Hill backed by the bulk of Baugh Fell.

In the distance the Howgill Fells as seen from Whernside summit ridge.

Trapped in time under a thin coating of ice, one of Whernside Tarns, there's three in all, sometimes four after bad weather.

A magical view back over the genteel slopes of Knoutberry Hill to Whernside.

Viewing Dentdale from the cairn above White Brows with a litany of Lakeland mountains reaching across the skyline.

Racing shadows as I descend the Great Wold to the Craven Way.

Under a dark cloud Aye Gill Pike with the rolling summits of the Howgill Fells behind.

Artengill Viaduct stands forever in the shadow of Great Knoutberry Hill.

Heading through the wild emptiness of Yorkshire's broad acres with the Craven Way under foot....

....then we come to this, it stands above the remains of the Duncan Sike lead mine, most guide books refer to it as a ruined barn, somewhere in these hills was once a coaching inn, the name slips my mind, as this is the only ruin between Ribblehead and Dent we'll allow our minds to wander back to the 17th and 18th centuries when packhorse trains plied their trade along the Craven Way.

Whernside seen from the Craven Way.

The Ingleborough massif viewed from Little Dale.

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