Buckden Pike is a striking fell in Upper Wharfedale. The summit ridge is the best in the Dales, at one end a Polish war memorial whilst at the other the highest point has excellent views.
I enjoy the two Wharfedale giants of Great Whernside and Buckden Pike more than their more popular neighbours to the west. A lot of the appeal comes from the lack of people and the joy in finding yourself alone on the mountains. Both mountains start and finish in lovely villages and are sometimes climbed together for an excellent long circuit. However it is sensible to split the hills and attack each separately. Buckden Pike from Buckden offers a fine, not too strenuous, circuit. Having now climbed it many time with many different people I think I can say it is my favourite mountain in the Dales.
The best route takes in both the Buckden lead mine and the Polish War Memorial (both worth visiting). However it does involve a fairly arduous and mainly trackless climb of over 1,500 feet. Whatever pain this entails the rewards will more than compensate. The summit is marked by a large cairn and smaller trig point. The views in all directions are superb but it is those to the west which are memorable. In fact they are so good I shot it for the cover of my book on the Dales 30.
Continue along the mile long summit ridge to the Polish War Memorial. It is a melancholy place in memory of a Polish aircraft which came down in a snowstorm in November 1942. There was one survivor. Just picture his walk/crawl to survival on that bleak night, a foreign national setting out from his dead mates, completely unsure where to go. He returned to Buckden Pike each year till he died. Have a look for the parts of the aircraft embedded in the base of the cross. The lead mines are directly in a line from the summit to Buckden, accessed from a faint path near the summit. The Buck Inn makes for a fine finish in a traditional Yorkshire pub.
Buckden Pike is one of the Dales 30 mountains
Take a torch to explore the lead mine. Fortunately the unexplained body you will hear the locals talk about has now gone!
To the east of the summit wall lies some of the remotest country in England. As a result it is a place to test advanced compass work.
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