Yorkshire Dales: Ascent to Whernside

10 mile trek to the summit of Whernside 736 m

At 736 m Whernside is the highest peak of the Yorkshire Dales and the 25th highest mountain in England. Every year, many people complete the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge either independently or as part of a fund raising event. This means hiking the 24 mile route and climbing each of the 3 highest peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent) in under 12 hours.

Chris and I climbed Ingleborough last year (with Flo, Mike and another friend Mark) as part of a camping weekend where we stayed in Chapel le Dale.

We began our walk by parking at a roadside car park near the Ribblehead Viaduct and sat in the car in a state of dismay as the heavy rain beat down. We briefly considered postponing the walk but after a few minutes we braved the rain and like mad idiots put our waterproofs on…

We trudged off in the rain towards the Ribblehead Viaduct which was built between 1870 and 1875 by Midland Railway. Wikipedia says that over 100 men lost their lives during its construction. It is now a Grade II listed monument.

Sheep were cowering and sheltering from the rain

We walked along the footpath and through a farm…

We sat in the drizzle on a picnic bench having coffee and chocolate biscuits…

Russell, Roza, Mike and Flo

The rain ceased for a short time, just as we began our ascent up the mountain!

But the sky soon turned more dramatic as heavy clouds loomed once again…

Climbing towards the summit

Unfortunately we couldn’t see much of Whernside as we climbed towards it… it is up there in the clouds somewhere…

Conditions near the top became bleak and windy…

At the summit of Whernside 736 m

In spite of the rubbish weather conditions the climb wasn’t too difficult and we reached the trig point which marks the top!

We continued our journey past the summit and after a short walk along the ridge and with Russell’s expert guiding we turned left into the peat bogs…

If the torrential rain wasn’t quite enough we were then treated to a hail storm… this was hard going as the hail stung our faces and the back of my legs…

We continued along on our squelchy walk trying to walk on the tufty bits and avoid going ankle deep into the bog. About half way round, we found a semi sheltered spot for our picnic lunch and stood eating our sandwiches in the rain…

The rain had thankfully eased off a bit during the afternoon as we made our way for another 5 miles along the well maintained path and gradual descent back towards the car.

Back at the Viaduct

Our trek lasted just over 5 hours including a short stop for lunch. We enjoyed coffee and cake in a little teashop in Hawes on the way back! (Although by now we were all soaked and freezing cold…)

But what a fantastic adventure! I was so pleased we decided not to abandon our walk as we had an awesome day and a warm house, a hot shower and a real fire to look forward to in the evening. And a glass or two of red wine!


  1. Grand weather for it! Done the 3 peaks a few years ago and remember the descent off whernside being pretty savage for a “walk” (rather than a climb), mind you we had ok weather and there were handgliders traipsing uphill to jump off the top (must be something to do with the weather!)


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