Whernside via the Occupation Road.

Start. Dent.

Route. Dent - Flinter Gill - Occupation Road - Kingsdale - Cable Rake Moss - Whernside - Knoutberry Hill - Whernside Tarns - Craven Way - Dyke Hall Lane - Mill Bridge - Dales Way - Church Bridge - Dent.

Notes. For many years this walk was an annual excursion for me, in my humble opinion undoubtedly the best way up the highest of Yorkshire's mountains. My starting point the lovingly-preserved village of Dent, nestled in the shadow of Great Coum and Aye Gill Pike, cobbled streets and quaint buildings old and modern draw the visitors to this delightful corner of the Yorkshire Dales.

I left the car in the main car park, almost opposite the entrance a tarmac lane leads south, soon opening out onto what can only be described as the village green, a discreet finger-post directed me to Flinter Gill. A short walk between delightful old houses followed before stepping onto a steep stoney bridleway ascending the wooded gill. The leg burning climb that followed terminated at a memorial bench and a gate that allowed access to the Occupation Road, I made good use of the bench before stepping onto the old green lane. I've got to be honest this route won't suit everybody, this old pack horse road's seen better days. Enclosed around 1859 the proceeding years have been unkind, tank exercises in the 1940s, four wheel drives and trail bikes in the 80s and 90s plus a fare number of modern farm vehicles have reaped untold damage. Deeply rutted in many places, collapsed culverts allow streams to escape there watercourses, making for a wet muddy passage over many sections. After a technical four miles I stepped onto the coll between Kingsdale and Deepdale, with tarmac under foot I started the descent into Kingsdale, at the first field boundery a gate on the left allowed access to the western flanks of Whernside, I passed through said gate, forded Long Gill before starting the steep ascent.

Described many times "like the checkout at Tesco", Whernside summit lived up to it's reputation, I didn't expect anything else on a sunny Bank Holiday monday, needless to say I quickly turned my back on the mob, heading north scanning the fence line for a small stile allowing access to Knoutberry Hill and Whernside Tarns. I crossed said stile then followed a faint path north passing between the two largest tarns to reach a rather handsome looking cairn above Deepdale Side. A quick brew followed before wandering on to the next cairn, then the next which turned out to be a wind shelter. From the shelter I descended, with the intake wall to guide me I was soon striding out between yet more dry stone walls, another ancient track under my boot soles. The Craven Way guided me off the hill depositing me in Dyke Hall Lane, I turned right then left at the t-junction next to the quaint Deepdale Methodist Church, in the shadow of Mill Wood I wandered, I crossed Mill Bridge to be met by a finger-post inviting me to Church Bridge. With the Dales Way now under foot and the many voices of Deepdale Beck for company I wandered on, Deepdale Beck soon gave way to the River Dee and the Dales Way soon gave way to a tarmac lane leading into Dent.

Wandering through the cobbled streets sucking on a rather tasty ice lolly gave me chance to reflect on the days outing, I can honestly say this was one of the most enjoyable walks I've done in ages, the views, the solitude (apart from the Whernside summit ridge), and the unforgetable Occupation Road, now felt like just another muddy puddle.

view route map.


Ascending the wooded Flinter Gill.

Adventures for another day, Aye Gill Pike as seen over Dentdale.

In the distance, head in cloud Great Knoutberry Hill.

Between the dry stone walls of the Occupation Road viewing Whernside.

Picking my way along the Occupation Road looking back over the slopes of Great Coum to the rocky outcrop of Binks.

Seen from the delightful path onto Cable Rake Moss, Crag Hill and Great Coum over Green Hill.

Great Coum seen from Cable Rake Moss.

The flat top of Ingleborough seen from Whernside.

The scene over Knoutberry Hill taking in Whernside Tarns and Aye Gill Pike.

Seen over the rippled waters of Whernside Tarns Great Coum.

Been there, Whernside summit and the mob, much quieter here by the tarns and the cairns overlooking Deepdale and Dentdale.

Wonderful views down Dentdale, seen from one of the cairns above Deepdale Side.

Stunning views over Aye Gill Pike, on show the Howgill Fells and Baugh Fell including the vales of Deepdale and Debtdale.

Another view from above Deepdale Side, Calf Top leading to Combe Scar seen over the slopes of Great Coum.

The way ahead.

Another cairn and another magical view, looking down on the valley cut by Cowgill Beck.

Viewing Great Knoutberry Hill with the arches of the Artengill Viaduct clearly visible.

Stretching across the skyline the hills bordering Barbondale, Calf Top, Barkin Top and Combe Top.

Between the dry stone walls of the Craven Way.

Looking over Deepdale from the Craven Way.

Aye Gill Pike over Dentdale.

I'm quite low down now but the Craven Way still gifts me with stunning views.

Meandering along the banks of the River Dee, in no hurry to get back.

Viewing Great Coum and Crag Hill from the banks of the River Dee.

Looking back with fond memories to Deepdale Side.

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