Where is this walk?

Penhill Beacon in Wensleydale

June 30, 2018

The prominent cairn of Penhill Beacon is easily visible on the southern slopes of Wensleydale. This walk takes you up on to the moors direct to the beacon before dropping in to the remains of the lead mining industry.

The Walk

On my first visit I approached Penhill Beacon from the wrong side. Coming from the west I almost missed the large, and prominent cairn. On my second and subsequent visits I reversed the walk and approached the Beacon direct. After ticking off the high point of Penhill Beacon it is a steep scramble down Penhill and Black Scars to the remains of the old lead mining industry. Having explored these it is an easy descent on the Green Gate Lane and back to West Witton.

Penhill Beacon was part of a network of bonfires, strategically placed throughout the country, to warn the population of any invasion. There were two occasions when the beacons were lit. First 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 final chunk of high land before the Vale of York. As a result Roseberry Topping is next in line many miles to the 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.

It is a good, if not infallible rule, that views looking north or west are better than south and east. As a result the slopes of Penhill are perfect. The views down Coverdale and upper Wensleydale are particularly good. All in all a varied and interesting walk to do.


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

Navigation Tips on Penhill Beacon

There are a number of footpaths and bridlepaths to follow on this walk. The footpaths are signified by a short green dashes on the map, bridlepaths by longer ones. However on the ground the only difference is when they come to a wall or a gate. Here the bridlepath must have a gate whereas the footpath may be a more awkward stile.

  • 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 better.so 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 bends.so 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 rest.next time i plan to do buckden pike,hope i won’t have bitten of more than i can chew.

  • 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 http://www.walkingphotographer.co.uk/yorkshire-dales-walk/penhill-walk/ . cheers Rich

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