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.
Whernside can be climbed from a number of different directions but for the Whernside virgin the classic 3 peaks ascent from Ribblehead is the most straightforward. The path from the half way stile has been completely relaid and fortunately avoids the horrific peak hags that populate the upper slopes. It is a circular route and what I like best is that it starts and finishes at the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct. 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 to accommodate those who had died.
The walk itself is just the right length for a good challenge; the paths are well constructed and the summit views befit the largest mountain in the area. As part of the 3 peaks challenge Whernside can become extremely busy, particularly from 12 to 2 on a Saturday, but there are no satisfactory alternative routes from Ribblehead. For those staying over towards Dent and Hawes the northern ridge is a good alternative. I have been up with a group on New Year’s Eve in the snow, retreating from the summit by the valley of Deepdale which was highly enjoyable.
Whernside is one of the Dales 30 Mountains
The best initial climb for mountain virgins who want to enjoy the higher fells of the Dales. It includes the highest point, an iconic structure and a good track that it is impossible to get lost on!
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.
Is Whernside comparible to Penyghent in hiking difficulty for an amateur, (no experience beyond Penyghent) in good physical condition?
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.
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