The Wharfedale Three peaks – Yorkshire Dales Stroll

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Route Abstract:

The Wharfedale Three Peaks, situated within the Yorkshire Dales,  is a a lot quieter different to the extra conventional Yorkshire Three Peaks. It’s centred across the village of Kettlewell in Higher Wharfedale and covers the three summits of Nice Whernside, Buckden Pike, and Birks Fell. In addition to being quieter (it’s possible you’ll solely see a handful of different walkers on the entire route), it’s additionally harder terrain than the Yorkshire Three Peaks because it lacks all the aim constructed paths and as an alternative takes you over bogs, moorland, and farmland on a mixture of footpaths, farm tracks, sheep tracks, and generally no tracks in any respect. For that reason, many imagine that this problem is the tougher of the 2.

Route Info

  • Begin: Kettlewell Storage, Kettlewell, North Yorkshire, Skipton BD23 5QZ, United Kingdom
  • Date:17-07-2018
  • GPX File: Obtain

Different POI: Kettlewell, Dowber Gill Beck, Hooksbank, Hags Dyke, Blackfell Prime, Black Dike Finish, Black Dike, Cam Gill Street, Prime Mere, Starbotton Out Moor, Starbotton Fell, Memorial Cross, Buckden, Cow Shut, Buckden Rake, Cray, Cray Gill, Hubberholme, River Wharfe, Yockenthwaite, Hagg Beck, Horse Head, Sugar Loaf, Moss Prime, Firth Fell, Previous Cote Moor Prime, Middlesmoor Pasture, Gate Cote Scar

Route Description:

The stroll begins in Kettlewell within the massive automotive park on the primary highway. Persevering with north-east, take the primary turning on the precise and observe Center Lane for a brief distance. This may be complicated because the highway that runs parallel to the north can be referred to as Center Lane. Flip left at The Inexperienced, and observe so far as a pointy bend to the left. As a substitute of taking this bend that leads over Kettlewell Beck, proceed straight forward onto Scabbate Gate. The highway continues operating parallel to the beck for some time till it will definitely veers away. Simply earlier than the observe heads throughout one other beck (Dowber Gill Beck), take a proper and proceed following the road of the beck as an alternative. That is solely adopted a really brief distance earlier than a bridge is crossed rigorously utilizing good stability and footing.

The Green, Kettlewell
The Inexperienced, Kettlewell – flip left right here!
Sign to Great Whernside on Scabbate Gate
Signal to Nice Whernside

As soon as over the bridge, a path is adopted north-east progressively uphill, initially following the road of the beck to the precise till finally the beck veers away to the east. The route continues north-east till it arrives on the previous farmhouse that’s now Hag Dyke Scout Hostel. From right here, the bottom turns into a bit of rougher. On this specific day, it was in the midst of a really dry spell and so the bottom had all dried up. On different, extra usually English days, the going could not have been fairly really easy. The route continued roughly north-east on a direct course to the summit.

The ascent of Great Whernside
The ascent begins
Hag Dyke Scout Hostel
Hag Dyke Scout Hostel

The title Whernside means ‘hillside the place millstones have been acquired’. Whern is derived from quern, which suggests ‘millstone’. The higher a part of the hill consists of millstone grit – it’s actually strewn all over the place and offers the summit a pleasant homely really feel to a walker like myself who frequents the Darkish Peak way more usually than the Yorkshire Dales. Amongst the piles of gritstone blocks and boulders web site the Nice Wherside trig pillar. I at all times suppose a summit is a bit more satisfying when there’s a trig to mark the spot.

Great Whernside summit and trig point
Nice Whernside summit and trig level
Great Whernside's western edge
Nice Whernside’s western edge

From the summit, the route heads north, conserving to the very best floor and following the road of the boundary fence. Ultimately, a path heads straight right down to the west, following the road of a wall that drops steeply down the hillside. This path is named Black Dike and is labelled on the 1:25ok Ordnance Survey map. The trail follows the wall for a short time earlier than veering away to the precise, descending roughly north-west for some time till a slim lane is crossed.

Looking back towards Great Whernside
Trying again in the direction of Nice Whernside
Buckden Pike in the distance
Buckden Pike within the distance

From the lane, the route continues west of north-west on to Tor Mere Prime. After a brief distance, it joins the road of a wall which is beneficial to help navigation. On Tor Mere Prime, the route takes a pointy flip to the precise and heads north of north-west, previous the memorial cross, and finally arriving on the summit of Buckden Pike. The memorial cross is devoted to the reminiscence of 5 Polish airmen of the Polish Air Pressure 18th Polish Operational Coaching Unit, based mostly at RAF Bramcote, who crashed their Wellington Bomber on the 30th January, 1942. It was accomplished in 1973 with the assistance of locals and the only survivor of the crash, Jozef ‘Joe’ Fusniak.

Eroded moorland
Eroded moorland
The air crash memorial
The air crash memorial

It had been a really quiet day to this point and the primary sighting of different walkers didn’t occur till the strategy to Buckden Pike. It was an enormous distinction to the Yorkshire Three Peaks problem. For probably the most half, it felt as if I had the entire place to myself. The summit of Buckden Pike is once more marked by a trig pillar and presents implausible views trying west by means of Langstrothdale and into the guts of the Yorkshire Dales past.

The path to Buckden Pike summit
The trail to Buckden Pike summit
Buckden Pike trig pillar
Buckden Pike trig pillar
Summit view - Pen y Ghent visible in the distance
Trying in the direction of Pen y Ghent within the distance, from Buckden Pike’s summit

The descent path descends steeply from the summit in a north-easterly route, initially following the road of a wall. This path finally curves to the left and finally ends up heading south-west so far as Buckden Rake the place a junction of footpaths is reached. The properly outlined path heading north and south is a part of the Pennine Journey lengthy distance footpath, and the northern route alongside Buckden Rake needs to be taken for a brief distance till a path turns into seen on the left heading steeply downhill to the foot of the hill. This ends at Cray close to the White Lion pub after crossing Cray Gill. Two Peaks down, One to go! It’s good to think about at this level that the stroll is 2 thirds full, however sadly the reality is that it’s solely midway achieved. In all probability not even that. The explanation for it’s because the third summit, Birks Fell, is lengthy. Very very lengthy. Half of the stroll feels prefer it’s spent on the highest of this fell. At this level, it’s arduous to know this and subsequently arduous to not really feel optimistic on the pace of reaching this a part of the stroll.

Upper Wharfedale
Higher Wharfedale
Langstrothdale and Birks Fell
Langstrothdale and Birks Fell
Cray Gill and the White Lion pub
Cray Gill and the White Lion pub

The subsequent part of the stroll takes you from Cray to Yockenthwaite by way of Langstrothdale, the place the ascent path to Birks Fell awaits. There’s a excessive stage possibility right here do you have to need it that ascends from Cray and follows the road of the valley at a excessive stage, above the wooded slopes and skirting the moorland above. On this event, I selected the straightforward possibility and adopted nation lanes so far as Hubberholme.

Pretty cows...
Fairly cows…
...and a very mean looking bull
and a really imply trying bull

As soon as at Hubberholme, the riverside path might be accessed behind the church. It makes a nice stroll and takes you all the best way to your vacation spot at Yockenthwaite. Right here, the river is crossed by way of the bridge and a left flip takes you down a rustic lane heading south. That is adopted so far as a cluster of buildings the place a footpath heads uphill on the precise. It initially heads north-west earlier than zig-zagging a pair occasions, finally deciding on a course south-west, following the road of Hagg Beck beneath on the left. The route finally brings you out on the summit a ways away from the Birks Fell summit. Like I discussed earlier, it is a lengthy fell. From the purpose that you just arrive on the highest, there’s over 5 miles of strolling earlier than you possibly can even begin descending once more.

Easy riverside walking
Straightforward riverside strolling
Not a sign I expected to see
Not an indication I anticipated to see
Looking back down Langstrothdale towards Buckden Pike
Trying again down Langstrothdale in the direction of Buckden Pike
Ascending to Horse Head Moor
Final large ascent of the day…

Usually at this level, it will be a case of following the trail south-east alongside the highest – nevertheless, with the Horse Head trig pillar such a brief distance away in the other way, it’s arduous to withstand the detour (or at the least it was for me!). As soon as obtained, retrace your steps and proceed following the very best floor of the fell. It continues south-east throughout Moss Prime earlier than curving to the north-east across the head of Crystal Beck after which again south-east once more. There’s a small part of deep peat groughs to navigate close to the start however after this, the strolling is pretty straight ahead. Navigation can be easy as the trail follows partitions for the entire distance of the fell. Phrase of warning although… this part of the stroll appears to go on and on and on…..

Trig pillar on Horse Head Moor
Trig pillar on Horse Head Moor
Following the wall on Horse Head Moor
Following the wall…
Exposed peat on Birks Fell
A very (g)tough space
Looking back after the exposed peat area of Birks Fell
Trying again after the peaty part

Birks Tarn is handed on the precise – sadly utterly dried up on this specific day, and finally the Birks Fell trig level is reached. This isn’t the official summit of Birks Fell although! The true summit will nearly definitely be unwittingly walked previous and is definitely situated a mile or so again on the route. After the trig, there’s nonetheless a superb 2 miles of plodding to go alongside Previous Cote Moor earlier than in the end the descent path is reached on the left. One other steep descent path is out there on the left earlier than this one, however I made a decision to go for the later one because it led on to Kettlewell and had a gentler gradient. The primary ridge of Birks Fell can have been partly descended by this level and already 100m+ of peak can have been misplaced because the trig level.

A dried up Birks Tarn
The realm previously often called Birks Tarn
Birks Fell trig pillar
Birks Fell trig pillar
The gradual descent along Birks Fell ridge
The gradual descent alongside Birks Fell ridge

The trail heads instantly downhill by means of Middlesmoor Pasture and finally to the steep rocky part of Gate Cote Scar. Care must be taken right here, particularly as muscular tissues and joints will nearly definitely be fatigued. As soon as on the backside, you’re house and dry! Kettlewell ultimately.

The descent to Kettlewell. Great Whernside in the background
The descent to Kettlewell. Nice Whernside within the background

So, a number of ideas on the stroll…

It most definitely had a unique really feel than the standard Yorkshire three Peaks. This one was very very quiet compared and introduced an actual feeling of solitude… and I like that feeling after I’m out within the hills. A couple of walkers have been handed on Buckden Pike and in Langstrothdale however aside from that, I had the hills to myself. Not a single particular person was handed in the entire 6 miles of Birks Fell. The Yorkshire three Peaks does come out on prime within the high quality of hills. It’s arduous to beat the mix of Pen y Ghent, Ingleborough, and Whernside – and that’s why the stroll is so widespread. The second peak of Buckden Pike doesn’t really feel like an enormous ascent as not sufficient peak is misplaced between there and Nice Whernside. They’re two hills on the identical vary. Saying that, the strolling is much extra rugged and it lacks the great large paths of the Yorkshire three Peaks. This, coupled with the actual fact you spend extra time on the tops, make it really feel extra of a correct hillwalking day. Admittedly, the slog throughout Birks Fell did get a bit of tedious after some time. With the Yorkshire three Peaks nevertheless, the primary slog comes within the lowland stretch between Pen y Ghent and Whernside. So would I like to recommend it? Sure, it’s an incredible stroll and makes a worthy competitor to its extra widespread cousin.

Be aware – I did this stroll on a weekday and don’t know how a lot busier it will have been on a weekend.

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