Dent to Ribblehead via the Great Wold, January 17

Walk details

  • Route Dent Station – Lea Yeat Bridge – Little Town – Swarthwaite – Tommy Bridge – Bridge End – Dales High Way to Boot of the Wold – Craven Wold – Slack Hill – Blue Clay Ridge – Blea Moor Sidings – Ribblehead Viaduct – Ribblehead Station
  • Distance 10.75 miles
  • Duration 6 hrs 15 mins
  • Getting there Train from Leeds to Dent with a Day Ranger
  • Weather Glorious sunny day, temperatures around freezing.

Why this route?

  • TOH got me the excellent Dales Rail Trails for Christmas, 32 circular and linear routes based on the Settle to Carlisle Line, which is likely to be the inspiration for many of our walks this year. This is one of their walks.
  • I knew from our summit of Whernside that this section of the line gives spectacular views, so I thought (correctly) that this would be one of the best places to enjoy the snowy spectacular, with views of all three peaks and across to the Howgills and the Lakes.
  • We have no winter skills to speak of so we have no intention of summit-ing anything in the snow, which meant looking for a lower level route.
  • I actually had three different walks picked out and had the forecast/weather on the day looked like it was going to snow again, or had conditions looked bad under foot we would have enjoyed the view from Dent for 15 mins then got the return train and done a lower level walk. In the event it was much warmer than forecast with clear skies, so we went ahead. The path over the Great Wold is about 500m and quite exposed, but it is a well-defined track so in good conditions was fine despite our lack of experience.

What did we learn?

  • The Great Wold is probably bog 95% of the year, judging by the frequency of frozen puddles.
  • The slipperiest part was the descent down Blue Clay Ridge. As this is part of the Whernside route it had been compacted by many feet over the course of the day. I had spikes to keep my upright but TOH lost his in a patch of snowy bog, so he struggled a little. The Dentdale side was must less slippery due to lower footfall. Having found Whernside challenging to descend normally we definitely made the right call not to try our luck today.
  • We were hoping to gently test our cold weather readiness but were foiled by the high temperatures down in Dentdale. It didn’t get chilly until we got up on the Great Wold and in Whernside’s shadow, but there was no wind to speak of. That said, the fact that we ended up stripping back almost to base layers gives me hope that we would have been ok had it been colder. Though if I’m to wear any more layers, I will need a larger size coat.

Walk highlights

  • Snow!
  • Fantastic view of the snowy Lake District peaks to the west.
  • Great Coum towering over Dentdale.
  • Distant Pen-y-Ghent and proud Ingleborough.


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