Where is this walk?

Whernside from Ribblehead

January 3, 2024

The climb of Whernside from Ribblehead is one of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales. Any walk combining the superb viaduct at Ribblehead with the highest point in Yorkshire must be good.

The Walk

Look for my extension on this walk (under Recommend) which improves it yet further.

The most popular and well known is the classic climb from the world famous viaduct at Ribblehead. One of those massive Victorian age construction projects, the Ribblehead Viaduct was completed in 1870. The bare facts of 24 arches, up to 104 foot high barely disguises the dangers of such a construction; workers died to such an extent that the project paid for an expansion of the local graveyard at to accommodate those who had died.

From the viaduct the route follows the railway tracks to Blea Moor Tunnel, another Victorian masterpiece. From the tunnel climb the mountain. Fortunately the path from the half way stile has been completely relaid, mainly with stone slabs taken from the old cotton mills. This avoids the deep peak hags that populate the upper slopes. In the past not only was the route becoming badly damaged and the important peat hags destroyed but it was a miserable experience. The summit ridge is a delight and the views impressive in all directions.

The descent of Whernside is steep. There has always been some controversy about the erosion and potential dangers of a fall. However in 2018 the path was repaired and it is certainly better than it was. I must admit I thought it may have been re-routed to flatter ground but it was not to be. As a result the path needs some care but is compensated lower down by some lovely views over to Ingleborough.

Whernside is one of the Dales 30 Mountains


The classic route up Whernside can be improved further by carrying on at the stile and heading towards Dentdale along the Dales Highway. The views over Dentdale are excellent and unusual. At the Boot in the Wold turn left uphill passing the 3 Tarns of Whernside. This is Access Land so head right/west to the standing stones/cairns which overlook Dentdale and one of my favourite views in the Dales. From the tarn a rough path joins the main route just shy of the summit.

This extended climb of Whernside is part of the ‘3 Peaks in 3 Peaks‘ guided Walking Break I use twice a year.

Navigation Tips on Whernside from Ribblehead

Having completed the descent at the first farm take an immediate left and follow the path (marked as a hay meadow). Do not stay on the main farm track. On this path keep steep land to your left until you reach the railway.

  • Aidan says:

    We descended Whernside in rainy weather on Sept 17th 2023. It was treacherous and dangerous.

    Very, very slippy and an accident waiting to happen.

    Stones in place to combat the erosion are slippy and often sticking right upwards.

    Take the utmost care!

    • Jonathan says:

      The route down Whernside has always been steep but the recent repairs to the path have improved the situation. However the stones used on the repairs are slippy when wet as stones tend to be.
      I would not say the path is treacherous or dangerous, just care is needed on it as with many paths on the mountains.

  • Steve says:

    If dodgy knees will not take the descent are there any issues of doing the walk in reverse?

    • Jonathan says:

      Perfectly fine to reverse it and it is a less steep descent. However you will be battling the crowds going the other way, certainly on a summer weekend.

  • Ron Gee says:

    Is Whernside comparible to Penyghent in hiking difficulty for an amateur, (no experience beyond Penyghent) in good physical condition?

    • Jonathan says:

      Yes it is similar, a little longer and a steep descent but if you have done Pen y Ghent you should be fine on Whernside.

  • James says:

    Good walk

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