THE highest point in Yorkshire is the summit of Whernside. The most popular climb is from the wonderful Ribblehead viaduct. It is hard on the feet but the route is easy to follow. A satisfying day out.

From the parking head towards the viaduct, the impressive bulk of Whernside lies behind.

The viaduct was built between 1870 and 1874 with over 1,000 navvies involved and includes 24 stone arches towering impressively to over 100 feet above your head. Do not pass under the viaduct but keep to the east path alongside the railway, the line on your left.

Pass the derelict looking station house at Blea Moor station before arriving at the aqueduct that marks the start of the climb up Whernside. The tunnel ahead is Blea Moor Tunnel, a one and a half mile tunnel reflecting the skill and tenacity of the Victorian builders.

To climb Whernside, cross the aqueduct and start to climb steadily up the slopes of the mountain.

On your left is the waterfall at Force Gill, often impressive, certainly after rains. After 350 feet of steady climbing a stile to the left marks a change in direction and a well-constructed footpath heads towards the summit ridge of Whernside.

Much of the walking is on vast slabs, carefully laid. They may be hard on the feet but as well as protecting the sensitive peat land around protect the walker from wading through a knee-high


A mile from the stile the path arrive at the broad summit ridge of Whernside, follow it for ¾ a mile to the summit. The trig point is through a narrow gap in the wall and offers great views to the north with the ‘Dales 30’ summits of Gregareth (the highest point in Lancashire) and Great Coum prominent with the Howgills and southern Lakes further afield.

As you continue south from the summit it is the distinctive shape of Ingleborough which attracts the eye. Three quarters a mile from the summit the path divides, your route heads steeply downhill to the left. The lesser path carries along a broad , attractive ridge for 4 miles towards Ingleton.

The initial, steep descent has been recently repaired by the excellent Three Peaks rangers and team and is much more pleasant than previous years.

The slope flattens after the first gate. Pass through two more small gates and arrive at the farm at Bruntscar. Instead of carrying on down the main farm track (the route taken by those on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge) turn left in to a field and head north east, contouring the lower slopes of Whernside.

The path passes through the farms of Broadrake and Ivenscar before an obvious track on your right (1 mile from Bruntscar) heads towards the viaduct. Turn left at the farm of Gunnerfleet and under the viaduct back to the start.

Fact file:

Distance: Roughly 8 miles.

Height to Climb: 460m (1,500 feet)

Start: SD 765793. Park in the many parking places at the junction of the B6255 and B6479 and head towards the viaduct.

Difficulty: Hard.

Refreshments: The Station Inn is a good pub at Ribblehead, a couple of minutes walk from the parking.

Be Prepared:

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written his own book, the Dales 30, which details the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales. Visit