The Wharfedale 3 Peaks from Kettlewell is a very long day’s walk. The tracks are not always obvious and can be wet. However it is an classic circuit and very satisfying once completed.
Yes there are three mountains to climb in the Wharfedale 3 Peaks and yes they are all in the Yorkshire Dales. However that is where the similarities between the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the embryonic Wharfedale 3 Peaks ends. Whereas the Yorkshire 3 Peaks is popular (overcrowded at weekends) it is rare to see more than a handful of walkers strewn across the slopes of the Wharfedale 3 Peaks. The Yorkshire 3 have a well made and obvious track, almost a road in places, the Wharfedale 3 is on sheep tracks, marshy tracks, farm tracks and in places barely a track at all. Finally nobody, aside from a select few, have ever heard of the Wharfedale 3 Peaks. Maybe it is how the original 3 Peaks was 40 years ago!
A circuit of Great Whernside, Buckden Pike and Birks Fell is an excellent panorama of three distinct fells nestled around Upper Wharfedale and the attractive village of Kettlewell (another great advantage). The first two are excellent fells in their own right whilst Birks, although featureless, has some interesting views. All three are described as day walks elsewhere one website.
The circuit itself is best taken in an anti clockwise direction. This reserves the slog over Birks to be done when the mind and body are tiring. Although I like Birks there nothing that can not be revisited on a short, future trip. It is also easy to navigate in the mist. A wall heading along its broad, peaty ridge straightforward to follow and even if you miss the indistinct path to Kettlewell it does not matter. There will be another dropping in to the village shortly.
Great Whernside, Buckden Pike and Birks are all Dales 30 Mountains
Give it a go, it is a splendid alternative to the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and just as hard. Although not quite as long the nature of the terrain makes it more challenging.
PS: Do not be confused by the O/S Pillar on Birks, sadly the summit is 3 metres higher and a mile further north.
In bad weather the most difficult section on the route is the climb of Buckden Pike. From the col after Great Whenside the path you want is just north of west. After 15 minutes it meets a junction of walls. Head on the same bearing on meeting the boundary.
I did this a couple of years ago but I’m sure it was longer. I seem to remember coming down from Buckden Pike and then going from Cray to Yockenthwaite. The route up Birks was from there and took in the trig with superb views on Horse Head Fell before heading off to Kettlewell.
I am interested in doing the 18 mile version of the Wharfedale 3 peaks walk. I have the OL30 map but wondered how I can get a copy of the route map or dictions – can you help?
If you have OL30 either plot the points from the GPS file or look at the sketch map and transfer the information on to your paper map. It follows obvious paths.
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