Watch that hole!
Time and time again, The Yorkshire Dales throws almost alien earth formations my way whenever I visit. From the vast caves around Ingleborough, to the mars-like landscape around Pen-Y-Ghent.
This time around though, it was the potholes up the spine of Whernside that took me by surprise.
Ingleton seems to be pretty typical of The Yorkshire Dales; Seemingly centuries old buildings and bridges, divided by vast but un-imposing car parks and more pubs and churches than buses and starbucks’ to choose from after a long day in the hills.
Starting in the south of the town, this route starts off by snaking its way through the undulating roads of Ingleton, finding the River Doe and tracking directly North along a well made farm road. Take care with your map reading while following this road, and resist the temptation to cut across the private farmland that surrounds you initially.
Your perseverance is rewarded as you pass the last of the farm building (If you’re lucky, they’ll be serving coffee from their quaint trailer!), and break out onto the open access land.
Some heavy feet and well thought out zig-zagging will get you up and over the initial tongue of land that hides the vast ridgeline that extends to the summit of Yorkshires’ highest peak; Whernside.
Like climbing up the spine of a giant beast in sleeping, pick up and follow the fenceline that tracks almost directly to the summit. While you follow the fenceline, the potholes I mentioned before start to appear left right and centre. Take care to not fall in, but do take a moment to take in their curious shapes and carvings. According to the information boards in Ingleton, these put holes are some of the only tell-tale scars on the land that hint toward to vast cave network that spreads out for miles around this area.
It’s anyone’s guess how the vegetation hanging from the formations here manage to survive when my houseplants conduct such amature dramatics if looked at improperly!
As you near the final push for the summit, the route re-joins the rat-race route; so tread well as you climb the final run to a seriously large summit cairn – you’d struggle to miss it. The summit of Whernside provides nothing but the most rewarding all round views of The Yorkshire Dales, including the huge cliff formations to the northern flanks of Ingleborough. There’s no better place for lunch on this route than the gentle grassy slopes that surround the summit, so take your time to wander and find your spot.
Backtracking for less than a mile, and following the three-peaks route down the flanks of Whernside will take you into the valley below. Most of the people heading down this way will be continuing onto Ingleborough as part of their Three-Peaks efforts, but this route takes a leisurely valley stroll back towards Ingleton.
Cresting the very same tongue of earth that you came over inbound, you’ll pick up the made farm track again. Instead of tracing your route back through the farm buildings, take a right and follow the trail on the other side of the water course of the River Twiss. This way around gives you the perfect vantage point of some of the amazing waterfalls, but can get pretty busy from my experience.
Arriving back in Ingleton after what should have been a pretty easy-going hike, but 14 miles nonetheless, will definitely have your taste buds watering from the many pubs and restaurants that litter the town centre. Be sure to pick up an ice cream as bare minimum!
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