Dales 30

Wharfedale is one of the better known Yorkshire Dales, with spectacular scenery and some well known tourist centres such as Grassington and Kettlewell. The upper part of the dale contains four of the Dales 30:

  • Great Whernside 704m
  • Buckden Pike 702m
  • Yockenthwaite Moor 643m
  • Birks Fell 610m

Great Whernside

Not to be confused with Whernside, one of the three peaks, which is somewhat higher. It forms a big part of the Eastern side of Wharfedale above Kettlewell, dividing it from Nidderdale. A consequence of this is that only half is actually within the national park, as the dividing line between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale goes through the mountain’s peak. It’s most conveniently climbed from Kettlewell, with a fairly straightforward path from the Hag Dyke Scout hut to the north-south ridge which includes the top. The last few hundred metres can be boggy. The ground to the east of the peak into Nidderdale is rarely visited pathless bog, often considered to be some of the remotest in England.

My route from Kettlewell.

Buckden Pike

Buckden Pike is only a couple of metres shorter than its neighbour to the south, Great Whernside. It’s a straightforward run North along the path from Buckden before turning east for a steeper approach to the ridge. Views can be extensive in fine weather, but our visit in June featured visibility so poor that other visitors had been unable to find the Polish war memorial.

The Polish War Memorial on Buckden Pike

Yockenthwaite Moor

This has a somewhat undeserved reputation for being featureless and boggy. I’ve been to the top four times and not really encountered much difficulty - certainly much easier navigation and less boggy than say Lunds Fell. My preferred route is using Gilbert Lane (a byway, watch out for occasional off-roading vehicles) and then to follow the fence from the Grey Stone boundary marker/ gate, past South Grain tarn. The route is rough to begin with, but there is a fairly clear footpath for much of the route. Following the fence from the sheep pens at the junction where Gilbert Lane heads to the east and the Pennine Journey route goes west at Green Scar top also provides a good section of very runnable terrain. I suspect that a route from Fleet Moss to the West would be very difficult going.

My route up and down Yockenthwaite Moor from Kidstones

Birks Fell

Birks Fell is part of the ridge which separates Littondale from Wharfedale and provides some fine views. I took the very clear route west from Buckden which soon turns South at Redmire and heads up the ridge. When the ridge is reached, there is a cairn a short distance to the South, but this is a couple of metres short of the peak, which is in the opposite direction, about a mile to the North, near to a number of small tarns. There are fine views on both sides at certain points. The ridge can also be approached from Starbotton, or from Langstrothdale to the North.

The pile of stones which marks the peak of Birks Fell