Great Whernside, September 16

Walk details

  • Route The plan was to follow the track up above Dowber Gill Beck, to Hag Dyke, Great Whernside, north along Blackfell Top and Crags, across Black Dyke, along Tor Dike, and then down Top Mere Road.  All went to plan from Hag Dyke, but we inadvertently went north up Hoobank Pasture almost to Hay Tonge Farm and had to loop round.
  • Distance 9.42 miles
  • Duration 4 hours 50 mins
  • Getting there Dales Bus 875 from Leeds to Kettlewell, on the wonderful Freedom Rover ticket.
  • Weather Sunny becoming slightly overcast in the afternoon. Hot down in the valley but very windy on the summit and round the head of the valley.

Why this route?

  • The 875 only runs through September, so we wanted to take advantage while we can.
  • It’s time to climb a mountain! At 704m Great Whernside fits the bill.
  • I’d rather do my first mountain earlier in the season than later. That’s also a guide to what the temperature is likely to be lower down in a few weeks.
  • Unlike its more famous cousins to the west, Great Whernside is famously free of other people.
  • The second half of the walk is comparatively easy walking down a track, which sounded like a good plan after doing the summit.

What did we learn?

  • They say you’re always prepared for the last trip you did… Overall I was pleased with our gear. I’d looked at the forecast so we had plenty of layers, including gloves and hats. However, gaiters would have been an advantage.
  • This is the first route which I’ve done a route card for. My times per segment were slightly conservative, which is how I like it when there’s only one bus home. In the end we did the walk 45 mins faster than expected, so hopefully would have had enough time in the event of the unexpected.
  • The route card was definitely a good investment of time as it meant I was using the map to sense check location and direction rather than work out where we were, and we could make an informed decision about whether to carry on or go back once we were at the summit.
  • Shallower sections of grassland on hills may in fact be bogs… From Hag Dyke we ascended a steep scree-y section, then from the cairns at 520 up to about 600 was boggy. The top Great Whernside’s ridge was also on the boggy side, as was a chunk of the descent to Tor Dyke.
  • I can walk over boggy sections that TOH sinks in.
  • If you have a trekking pole, you should use it to test the ground.
  • TOH should also take spare socks.
  • Pay more attention to the navigation out of town. I added about another mile by not taking the path up the side of the gill.

Walk highlights

    • The summit!
    • The view of Great Whernside from Top Mere Road.
    • Tor Dyke – allegedly built by the Brigantes around AD70.
    • Kendal Mint Cake for 65p in the village store.
    • Great views of the valley, although I don’t think this section of the valley is as interesting to look at as the area around Grassington.



























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