THE beautiful and relatively quiet Dentdale provides the base for a most enjoyable climb to Whernside, the highest summit in Yorkshire. The area near 3 Tarns is spectacular on a good day with views down Dentdale some of the best in England.

Whernside Manor on the south road to the east of Dent village provides the start of the walk. It is just over one mile outside Dent (you can walk from there), but there is some limited parking at the road junction leading in to Deepdale. Turn right in to Deepdale and a few yards further a bridlepath is signposted heading west on to the steep hillside. The path climbs steadily up a wide track for 250m (over 800ft) to the first of a series of walls coming in from the hillside to your right. On route pass the small satellite, a chance to glance around and enjoy the views back along Dentdale.

The stony track starts to decrease in steepness as it passes a further three walls on your right and a sheepfold. After the third wall (at the Boot of the Wold!) leave the track and head steeply uphill along a faint path, keeping the wall to your right. Where the wall bends right keep climbing along the faint path until it flattens at the first of the Whernside Tarns. It is worth spending time exploring these tarns and in particular head for a large and obvious cairn to the east where there are spectacular views over Dentdale to the Howgills and beyond. This ability to roam in such a lovely landscape is the joy of our mainly upland access land. Long may it be preserved and extended. Return to the track at the first tarn and head north.

After a welcome period of flat walking the path starts to climb again and closes in on a broken wall and fence to your left. Where the path meets the wall is a small stile, cross over and join the obvious and popular path heading for three-quarters of a mile towards the summit of Whernside’s long and broad whaleback ridge. Unlike its distinctive millstone grit flat topped neighbours Penyghent and Ingleborough, the top of Whernside is a graceful curve, peaking at a shelter and trig point astride the now solid stone wall. The views to the east include the other Three Peaks and the beautiful curve of the Ribblehead viaduct, but crossing the wall to the trig brings wilder country and views over neighbouring Great Coum and Gragareth (the highest summit of Lancashire). These are two more of the popular ‘Dales 30’ mountains which offer such a great and varied challenge in the area.

From the trig point head west and taking a faint path descend the mountain for 1,000ft by a series of rolling steps, steep descent intermixed with flatter areas. A wall emerges to your right half way to the road and operates as a good handrail (ie: keep it in view when the cloud is down). On meeting the road turn right and follow it south as it drops in to the farming valley of Deepdale. As the road zig zags at 721836 leave it briefly and visit one of a number of delightful small waterfalls. After a further half a mile at Willans Farm take the bridlepath down to the river at the foot of Deepdale, cross the footbridge and return to the car.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 8.5 miles.

Height to Climb: 640m (2,100 feet).

Start: SD 723858. Small parking area at the junction near Whernside Manor. Alternatively leave the car at Dent adding 3 miles to the round trip.

Difficulty: Hard: This is a long climb and some of the walking is on intermittent paths which can become wet and muddy.

Refreshments: Nearby Dent has a pub and cafe.

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 (essential on this walk). 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 based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 2 books on walks in the Dales, ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ and ‘The Dales 30’ mountains. Available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day (Beginners or Intermediates). All dates and information on the website. Next available date August 13th.

• Join one of his Navigation Weekend courses or “3 Peaks in 3 Days” guided walks in September.

Jonathan’s popular website, also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs