Ribblehead to Whernside

This route is rated medium to difficult as in the good conditions it offers little challenge.  However, in more treacherous conditions it can become very difficult.

Circular  |  12.5km (7.77 miles)  |  Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Please note that the route given is a rough guide and should not be relied upon solely when planning a walk. Remember to plan ahead, get a proper map and ensure you have the right equipment.

A lot of the path is rocky so the steeper sections can be very tricky in icy conditions. There can be gale-force winds over the higher sections which made progress very difficult.  The route is very popular and can be fairly busy.  Those things aside, this is a good route with a well defined and maintained path.

1:  Walkers can park either at the nearby pub or along the sides of the road.  There is even the nearby Ribbleshead railway station.

2:  Here walkers can decided to go left, under the viaduct or right, up hill.  Going anti-clockwise is recommended as the ascent this way is more gentle, though there are steep sections in both directions.  Along this section of the route walkers should keep on the right hand side of the track.

3:   Here the route crosses the tracks on a bridge.  Despite having already been going up hill, the next section is where walkers will make their real ascent.  Halfway up this steep section walkers will be rewarded with a great view of a waterfall if it isn’t too foggy.  The route continues on along thepath then heads left at the first stile it reaches before heading towards the ridge of Whernside.  Here there is another ascent.  Along this section walkers will be able to see a tarn – again, only if it isn’t too foggy.  From here the route follow the path along the ridge.  Along this section are strong winds so walkers are advised to be careful.

4:  The route now reaches the highest natural point in the Yorkshire (about 722m) and continues along the on the ridge.  Walkers may be tempted to head right at several  points along this section – at one point there is a stile in the wall that runs along the ridge.  Some walkers on other routes may follow a path down from the stile here but it isn’t part of this route.  Eventually the path will start descending, gently at first, then it becomes much steeper for a short distance.  Eventually the route reaches the bottom of the hill.

5: Now the route heads left through a gate on the left.  From here it follows a bridleway (not as clearly defined as the previous paths but aiming for the gates on the other side of each field should get walkers there).

6: Here the route follows the road to just beyond the farm buildings.  On the left walkers will spot a stile and a footpath sign.  The route crosses the stile and follows the path (again, not clearly defined).

7: Walkers will find themselves on another road here.  The route follows it to the left till it passes a gate.  Walkers will see a walkway sign pointing right, towards the viaduct here.  Following the road it points along and leads walkers under the viaduct and back to near the route’s start.  From here walkers can head back up to the road (and maybe pop into the pub if heading back to the station).

Though there are plenty of places to park near the start of this route is may be difficult finding a place due to Wernside’s pupularity.  The Ribblehead station is not far from the start of the walk if walkers feel like taking public transport instead.  Wernside is one of Yorkshire’s three peaks.  The other two being Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent, for which there are also routes for walkers.

The route was adapted from The OS Leisure Guide to the Yorkshire Dales (1985)


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