Penhill Beacon in Wensleydale

  • Beacon is perfectly situated
  • Old lead mines below Penhill Scar
  • Views over to Castle Bolton

I approached Penhill Beacon from the wrong side. I approached the Beacon from the moorland to the west and in fact almost missed the large, and prominent cairn. Penhill Beacon was part of a network of bonfires, strategically placed throughout the country, to warn the population of any invasion. There were 2 occasions when the beacons were lit, once when the Spanish Armada steamed up the channel and 300 years later when that rascal Napoleon was threatening our shores. Fortunately neither party set foot on our lands!

The large cairn is situated on the last chunk of high land before the Vale of York with Roseberry Topping being next in line many miles to the east. The approach I took was to walk up Green Gate to the west end of West Witton and explore the old lead mines first. In fact there is not much to see here but the views of Penhill Scar and Black Scar offer some compensation on the climb up. The peat moorland on Penhill offered some excellent views down Coverdale and upper Wensleydale but once again these would have been improved if I had tackled Penhill Beacon first (thereby walking  towards the west on the high ground).

It is a good, if not infallible rule, that views looking north or west are better than south and east. The area around West Witton is steeped in history, not just through the ancient lead mines and the Beacon but also as a centre of the Order of the Knights Templar during the 14th century. All in all a varied and interesting walk to do.

Recommend: West Witton has a more interesting history than many Dales villages. In particular read up on the Order of the Knight’s Templar.

Download GPX file

Penhill Beacon map


All maps are copyright of Where2Walk ©2018

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL30 Yorkshire Dales North & Central Buy Map
Start Point: SE 060885. West Witton. Parking on the main road seems to be acceptable but head east and take the road to Melmerby.
Height to Climb: 365 ms (1,197 feet)
Terrain: The peat hags on the high land can be troublesome and the land round the lead mines also rather wet, there is a wonderful array of boulders under Penhill Scar for those wanting a picnic away from the wind.
Eating & Drinking: I have not eaten in the Wensleydale Heifer but apparently the food is excellent but for a pint stick to the Fox and Hounds, comfortable and pleasant for the sweaty walker.
Similar Walks Nearby: Climbing Addleborough
idden Semerwater
Aysgarth Falls & Castle Bolton
Places to Stay:


  1. david sandy says:

    at 64 years old,now retired and living in wensleydale i am new to walking.the view from my lounge is of penhill so i just had to walk it.not until recently have i taken any exercise,plus being a former smoker i soon get out of puff,things are slowly getting i cheat a lot by taking the car and getting as near as possible if the summit is over 400mts which penhill his.i drove to west witton and took the road for melmerby and carlton after passing penhill farm;[the road his tight with sharp take care] i crossed a cattle grid and parked on the left,this appears to be a good viewing point for cars. i then walked back over the cattle grid,note.don’t take the bridleway signposted carlton. i took the sign marked penhill 1 /34 ml though gate and followed the track on steep climb through walls,[some gated] the last climb to the large cairn is very steep,the views are stunning , well worth the hour it took me with many time i plan to do buckden pike,hope i won’t have bitten of more than i can chew.

  2. Rich Bunce says:

    Love the site! This is a really cracking walk! Interesting that you did it anti-clockwise. I’ve just posted a very similar walk on West Witton and Penhill… but the other way round on . cheers Rich

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