Whernside, seen from halfway up Ingleborough
Whernside, seen from halfway up Ingleborough

Where is it? Ribblehead, North Yorkshire

In which area of outstanding natural beauty? The Yorkshire Dales

How tall is it? 2,415 feet (approx)

Write Up

Here it is, the highest of the ‘Three Peaks’, the highest hill or mountain in all of modern-day North Yorkshire (it’s also the highest if one includes South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire). It’s been labeled as a ‘Long Ridge’, shapeless and boring. It is a long ridge, there is no escaping that fact but boring? Shapeless? I don’t agree.

This is a fantastic climb, as of the eighth of August, 2009 this has been our toughest climb so far. It is steep in places, rough under foot in places and has a recurring habit of catching you off guard. Just when you think that the end is in sight – another section appears. I didn’t want to say it at the time, but I always enjoy a climb that has this particular quality. In that way this climb from Philpin Lane, Chapel le Dale is reminiscent of both Catbells from Hawse End when the summit is not revealed until Skelgill Bank is ascended and The Wrekin from Cluddley where the end is not revealed until one is almost upon it.

 

Whernside
Whernside
And they think that this is hard work...
And they think that this is hard work…

The route that we took was from Philpin Lane in Chapel le Dale, other routes via Dentdale and Ribblehead exist, the latter affording excellent views of the Ribblehead viaduct a most impressive structure on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. This truly is one of those routes where the descent is harder than the ascent. I stumbled many times on the way down as did others that I witnessed – this is not a route to attempt in snow or severely wet weather.

I was delighted to actually find this route from Chapel le Dale as Google searches for the phrase “Whernside from Chapel le Dale” had been less than fruitless – I kept on having the Ribblehead route returned to me which was neither wanted or practical as we had found a good parking spot at Chapel le Dale from which to make our temporary base and we didn’t want to yield it!

The views from the summit are worth the ascent. No superlative is needed here as the views speak volumes for themselves, needless to say I was delighted to be able to clearly see old friends Pendle Hill and Pen-y-ghent in the distance and the oncoming challenges of Wild Boar Fell and Cross Fell for the first time in reality (as opposed to a Google search result!), Ingleborough looked better on this walk than when we climbed it and this was also the first time that I had been able to see all of the Howgills with such clarity and from the position of being at a peak. After the dull and boring views from Pen-y-ghent and the absolute nothingness whilst on a mist covered Ingleborough, it was such a relief to have any views at all, to be engulfed in 3-Peakers (whom seemed to think that we were one of them – and we never let on to them the truth!).

The fantastic Ribblehead viaduct.
The fantastic Ribblehead viaduct.

Whernside is a bit of a slog, I should really reserve my opinion until I have done the all four major ascents – the one from Ribblehead, the one from Dentdale and the one which very obviously looks like a long slog as it covers the entire length of Whernside parallel (of a type) to the B6255 across the entire Whernside massif. Observent readers may deduce that I am something of a fan of this mighty hill / mountain / marilyn (delete as appropriate) and that I am. I thoroughly enjoyed our climb up it and if it meant that I had to follow Wainwright’s advice and ‘watch where I put my feet’ on the descent then that’s just the way things are. This peak, more than the other two has made me resolve to doing the “Three Peaks”, next year if at all possible (having climbed them all indivually, one walk at a time, I have the much needed respect for them), once I have got fit enough to do it! I’m already looking forward to downing another cup of coffee from the Philpin Lane barnhouse after completing Whernside again!

A ridge? Yes! Shapeless? No! Boring? Never!