The ‘Dales 30’ Challenge

February 21, 2024

The ‘Dales 30’ are the mountains in the Yorkshire Dales National Park over 2,000 feet with a 30 metre drop on all sides (100 foot when all said and done).

The full list is here.

Buy  the guide book here

Over the past few years increasing numbers of people are taking up the challenge of climbing these mountains, I know this from the number of ‘Dales 30’ books that are selling, a rough and ready guide which, hopefully, reflects the mountains and areas themselves. The faint paths leading to the lesser known Little Fell in Mallerstang and Dodd Fell Hill above Hawes may also reflect their growing popularity.

There are many and varied reasons why walkers are turning to the Dales 30 for their mountain fix. Here are just 10 of them.

  1. The challenge of 30 mountains (some of which can be doubled up on) is an achievable task. There are 100’s of Wainwrights and Munros making it over facing and impractical for the average walker. Not only is 30 achievable but most (but not all) are relatively straightforward to climb.
  2. The Yorkshire Dales National Park is easy to get to from many of the large population centres. It is barely an hour from Manchester, Leeds and Teesside and little further from the rest of the North East and most of Yorkshire and Merseyside. There is much beauty close to home.
  3. The mountains sit in a lovely and often neglected part of the country. Most of the mountains lie in Yorkshire, including the famous 3 Peaks of Whernside, Pen y Ghent and Ingleborough. However 8 lie in in Cumbria and Gragareth sits proudly as the highest mountain in Lancashire.
  4. The mountains will take you to some of the least visited part of the Dales. 4 of them lie in the lovely valley of Mallerstang, another in much neglected Dentdale and the Howgill Fells from Sedbergh should be much more than a day visit. Take a weekend walking trip to all of these places to really get under their skin and gain a better understanding of these traditional working landscapes.
  5. Each mountain is very different. I have visited these summits many times and each has its own distinctive characteristic. The vast bulk of Baugh Fell contrasts with the neat summit of Great Knoutberry. The long ridges on Birks and Calf Top contrast with the more isolated summits of Pen y Ghent and Ingleborough.
  6. There is always a good cafe or pub waiting. The pubs and cafes tend to be less crowded than the nearby Lake District and most retain and often show off the traditional character of the Dales. Nothing wrong with finishing a walk with a mug of Yorkshire Tea or in my case a tasty pint of bitter.
  7. The mountains are accessible for all. My friend Debbie North is tackling them in her terrain hopper, she has done 4 so far but many more are possible. Her own story of climbing the Dales 30 is elsewhere on the website.
  8. An understanding and learning more about the Dales. The Dales has its own distinctive character, unique in Britain. Walking the mountains has always made me want to know more, more about the history, the geology and man’s influence. The importance of its industrial past is everywhere as are the incomparable stone walls and barns of the fell side.
  9. Learning how to navigate in some tough terrain. A skill you will need to learn if completing all 30 mountains. The rough, sometimes trackless terrain in the lesser visited mountains do require good map and compass skills, particularly so if the mist descends. Learning to navigate is a really satisfying skill to learn and will bring much more enjoyment and confidence to any walks.
  10. Visiting at different times of the year. The enjoyment of climbing the Dales 30 is much improved if you visit them at all times of the year (and in all weathers). Winter is obviously tougher but can be much more rewarding, as can a breezy Spring day.

Hopefully the Dales 30 book will also help you on your way. I am only selling these direct on the website and via local book shops (no Amazon!) but the publicity has been superb. There was a nice piece in the Guardian and also the local press have certainly been on board.

I have a passion for the mountains of the Dales and hope the challenge will bring many more happy and interested visitors in to the less popular areas of the Dales.

Enjoy your Walking


PS: I run a number of ‘Dales 30′ weekenders during the year. These are two days walking with a small but like minded group of people up some of the more challenging mountains.

  • Will says:

    Just want to say how much I’m enjoying The Dales 30.
    I have been walking in Wharfedale, Swaledale and Wensleydale for over 40 years. I have been up the 3 Peaks on a number of occasions, though I’ve never felt the urge to do them all in one day, preferring to enjoy the views from each!
    Your book has inspired me to revisit some old favourites such as Buckden Pike and the Howgills, but better still has pointed me in the direction of new places to walk.
    Yesterday I walked up on to Yockenthwaite Moor from Yockenthwaite. It was my first time up there and I had a wonderful time. With all the dry weather we’ve been having the walking was good under foot (though even now it was a bit soggy in places) and the 360 degree view from the top was wonderful. In the afternoon I went up Birks Fell from Litton. I’ve walked from Buckden to Litton several times but never knew about the detour to the cairn. I’d forgotten how steep the path up from Litton is and thought I’d bitten of more than I could chew but the lovely view from the summit and a tarn I’d never seen before made it well worthwhile.
    Thanks again.

  • Toni says:

    Hi im interested in buying the book does it have a tick list to fill in once one of the dales peaks is completed?


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