Buckden Pike is a striking fell in Upper Wharfedale. The summit ridge is the best in the Dales, to the south is the impressive Polish war memorial. To the north is the summit, a pleasant spot with outstanding views across all of the mountains of the Dales.
I enjoy the two Wharfedale giants of Great Whernside and Buckden Pike more than the popular and much better known mountains to the west. Much of the appeal does come from the lack of people and the possibility of finding nooks and crannies where you can be on your own. A great mountain to explore. 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 climb 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.
My favourite route starts in Buckden, climbs gradually for 400 metres (nearly 1,500 feet) but with continual changing views of Upper Wharfedale. The descent takes in the remains of a hillside lead mine and the Polish War Memorial (a great story, read it below). 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 used it for the cover of the popular Dales 30 guidebook.
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 to pay homage for his long gone colleagues. Look closely at the base o the crop and you will see parts of the aircraft embedded in the base of the cross. To get to the lead mines on the descent head back towards the summit and take a faint path downhill just before reaching 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 (above Nidderdale) lies some of the remotest country in England. As a result it is an excellent location to test advanced compass work.
What a lovely walk, completed in March 2022. We planned to do this walk in preference to the slightly different one in the excellent Dales Top 30 book – preferring the trackless climb to the polish war memorial.
In fact we started out by detouring up Buckden Beck and found a delightful series of waterfalls and pools. It’s a well trodden track but in a couple of places it includes steep drops and scrambling up rocks to get around falls. The track continues to the old Lead mine where we rejoined this route.
The leadmine to memorial is a hard and trackless climb but most of our group found it worth it. The alternative (as per the book) being to visit the memorial in a there-and-back from the summit on what is a paved track.
We finished a great day in the lovely Buck Inn, the Dales at their best
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