June Walks Giveaway: Whernside & Ribblehead, North Yorkshire

June Walks Giveaway: Whernside & Ribblehead, North Yorkshire

This walk is reproduced from our popular walking book 'Guide to the North Yorkshire Pub Walks'.

📥 To download this walk and take it with you, click here!


Distance: 8 miles 


This walk is an ascent of Whernside (736m), the highest peak in Yorkshire and one of the “Three Peaks”. It’s a grand Pennine walk with terrific views and a close-up of the famous Ribblehead Viaduct. The ascent is easy on a broad, firm path with scarcely a steep gradient. The descent is very steep and needs care. Take extra layers of clothing as it is usually a different climate on top. 


The Station Inn, Ribblehead www.stationinnribblehead.co.uk


From Settle take the B6479 up Ribblesdale to the T-junction with the B6255 at Ribblehead. Turn left for parking at the Station Inn which is already in view or park roadside at the T-junction. Sat Nav: LA6 3AS.
MAP: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas. Grid
Ref: SD 763791.


1. From just below the Station Inn turn left along the bridleway signposted Gunnerfleet Farm, or from the T-junction take the path to the viaduct. The two routes soon join in a broad track to Ribblehead Viaduct. The whaleback shape of Whernside can be seen beyond the viaduct. Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 arches of local limestone, built from 1870 to 1875, is the most impressive architectural feature on the Settle-Carlisle line. Nearby, is the site of the camp where the workers who built the viaduct lived. It housed over 2,000 people and had a school and library. The work was hard and dangerous and many died; their unmarked graves are in the churchyard at nearby Chapel le Dale.

2. Follow the track to the right of the viaduct and up the hillside beyond. Bear left when the track divides and cross Little Dale Beck by a footbridge. Cross the bridge over the railway and keep to the main broad path as it climbs steadily to the right of Force Gill and its fine waterfall.

3. Go over the stile on the left (signposted Whernside 1¾ miles) and continue climbing. There is an unnamed tarn on the left and peat hags all around. The path swings left and eventually reaches the Whernside ridge. Nip up to the wall on the right for the best views into Dentdale.

4. Whernside’s summit is not a peak but a trig point over the wall by the shelter. The all-round view is outstanding. The table-top of Ingleborough dominates the scene straight ahead to the south, with Pendle Hill beyond. To the right is Morecambe Bay. Further round are the Howgills and the Lake District fells. To the east are Pen Hill, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside (“great” but not as high!). After admiring the view, continue going along the ridge which falls in a series of gigantic steps. After the last one, follow the main path which drops very steeply. It is now advisable to ignore the view, and watch where you’re putting your feet.

5. At the bottom of the descent at a crossroads of paths by a stone barn, turn left on the path signposted to Winterscales. The path (level walking!) goes just to the right of former farm buildings and continues in the same direction through fields just below a limestone scar. Turn sharp right in the farmyard at Ivescar, then immediately after a barn go over a step stile on the left (signposted “public footpath”). Walk diagonally across the field to a step stile and continue up a small hill and down the other side keeping the wall on your left. Go over the stile in the left corner of the next field, then cross the following field to a ladder stile just beyond the right-hand pylon. Go left along the road for a few metres, then turn right (signposted to Ribblehead) over the bridge across Little Dale Beck. Now follow the farm access road which goes under the massive arches of Ribblehead Viaduct and back to the Station Inn.


Opposite the Station Inn is the Ribblehead Visitor Centre. On the B6255 road to Ingleton are the White Scar caves. Ingleton is at the junction of the rivers Doe and Twiss and both have impressive waterfalls within easy walking distance.

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  • Alex Batho
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