Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A Trio Bagged, Whernside, my favourite summit so far.

Part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, including Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent, Whernside is at 736m, since 1974, Yorkshire's highest peak. In that year there was a re-arrangement of the borders and the then highest point, Mickle Fell at 788m, found itself within the County Durham borders instead. As a Yorkshireman, I felt it was my duty to tackle our highest peak.
The start is in a very picturesque valley with the Ribblehead Viaduct, built between 1870 and 1874, a prominent feature. It is a huge stone railway bridge that I think because of its shape and the materials used in its construction sits well with its surroundings. The weather forecast was for rain with low cloud clearing around midday. While there was only the occasional light shower, the low cloud threatened any chance of photographs from the top.

After passing the viaduct, the path heads up past the signal box which is still manned, I imagine one of the few left in the country that is.

The path continued through Little Dale. It became obvious there had been some substantial rainfall in the last couple of days. The river was very busy and offered for a dramatic subject.

Force Gill Waterfall was in full swing with a large volume of water passing over it. I might look at coming up here another time and head up closer to the waterfall.

The path takes a gentle left across the tunnel alongside the aqueduct. The path rises up Force Gill Ridge (as the Craven Way). Looking back I could see that the cloud was starting to thin ever so slightly. Brighter breaks in the cloud were becoming more evident.

The path heads around the foot of Knoutberry Hill and up onto Whernside proper. At this point I was around three quarters of the way there vertically. The car was parked at an altitude of around 300m with the summit of Whernside at 736m. So I was making good time.

Up on the ridge and visibility was still extremely poor. I like to have some good views, and this was looking like a poor outcome.

Looking down at Greensett Moss I could make out the Tarn there......just. I was starting to think I would be summit photograph free today.
I was on my own today. When I walk alone I always leave my walking plans with someone responsible. I do not deviate from those plans. And when possible I make a check in call with that person to let them know I am okay. I was just making my check in call when the sun decided to make itself known. It had been worth it with some quite dramatic shots.

The shelter on Whernside is a nice one that offered some protection from the strong winds blowing at the top. They had to be somewhere up around 50-60mph in gusts as a couple of times it grabbed my rucksack and tried to spin me around. The wind was almost alive.

I took the standard issue trig point photograph and headed off to lower ground.

Just before leaving I looked north and was able to capture a great shot of the Howgill Fells off in the distance.
The path off the summit is around a kilometer south west from the summit and heads south east into the valley below. Between Bruntscar and Broadrake the path takes a left up the valley. This gives you a great opportunity to take some more shots of Ribblehead Viaduct.
It was as I worked my way back along the valley that the cloud cleared. Blue skies now I was heading back. But I knew I potentially had some nicely dramatic photographs of the surroundings from the summit that would not have been possible with blue skies. The blue skies did however give me a really clear shot of Whernside.

Looking south east and even Pen-y-ghent was clearly in view.
Returning to the car meant passing Ribblehead again. With the sun in the south the viaduct was looking quite dramatic and had to be photographed. What an end to a great walk.
Whernside has been my favourite summit experience so far. I like ridge walks, and this one will be brilliant in clearer conditions for the amazing views it will give. But don't discount a lot of cloud. If you are luck, it can make for a lot more interesting walk.

That's Little Whernside, Whernside and Great Whernside bagged.



  1. Some gorgeous pictures there, Mark.
    You might be interested to know that Whernside isn't Yorkshire's highest peak...
    Yes, I was gob-smacked too!

    1. So that's two we have lost, starting with Mickle Fell. The joy of being a Yorkshireman. And I thought we didn't like to give anything away. So it's not entirely the Yorkshire Three Peaks anymore. I wonder how many are aware. I'm disgusted.

      Thanks Alan