Take The Easy, Tourist Free, Route To The Top Of Whernside

Nay, you don’t want to take the route from Ribbleshead viaduct, I’ll tell you the best route to the top of Whernside!

These were the words of a Yorkshire farmer who I met while camping by a waterfall near Dent in the Yorkshire Dales. I was telling him of my intention to walk the to the three tarns near the summit of Whernside when he waved his arms in horror at my consideration of talking the normal route.

He told me that the shortest and most stunning route to the top of Whernside was from the west. It’s a straight line and you’ll be at the top in no time, he declared. Who was I to argue with a man that had lived his entire life farming in this beautiful landscape.

Whernside Map - route from the west
Whernside Map – route from the west

The best place to park is on Thornton Lane, as marked on the map above. If there is nowhere to park, travel further north for a minute or so and you’ll see another lay-by for parking. I’d get yourself a copy of the Ordnance Survey Map for the area.

The start of the walk is by my recommended parking spot and it’s literally a straight line to the summit of Whernside.

West route up Whernside
West route up Whernside

Once I’d reached the top there were literally hundreds of people making there way to the top via Ribbleshead Viaduct. I felt a little smug that I’d shared my route with no one and enjoyed wonderful uninterrupted views. 

The height of Whernside is 736metres (2415 feet). My recommended starting point is at 468 metres (1536 feet), so you’ll save yourself a little climbing! It takes less than an hour to get to the top of Whernside at a steady pace with frequent stops for photos. With the time you’ve saved getting to the top I’d highly recommend extending your walk to include the three Whernside tarns which sit to the north of the summit (see my photo map above).

Whernside Tarns
Whernside Tarns
Three Tarns at Whernside
Three Tarns at Whernside

Check out my short video showing the view from the tarns.

The route back is the same as the route to the top.

Parking spot
Parking spot

I’d highly recommend visiting Yordas Cave a few minutes drive away from the parking spot. For a full weekends itinerary for wild camping and exploring caves and waterfalls in the area, read my blog Weekend Campervan Trip Ideas For Exploring Dentdale Caves And Waterfalls In The Yorkshire Dales.


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  1. Clare Field
    July 29, 2021 / 7:51 am

    Looking to attempt this with my two children in our quest to walk the 3 peaks. Is there a footpath or was this across unmarked paths? I can only see a boundary line on my os map. Thanks!

    • TheCamperVana
      July 29, 2021 / 9:23 am

      Hi Clare
      Simply following the stone wall for the first half then after that continue in a straight line. There is a vague path for the first half. You can’t get lost don’t worry! I’d definitely go to the three tarns if the kids aren’t too tired. The path to the tarn is very clear until you are in sight of them, at which point you don’t need a path as you can just explore around them. Hope you enjoy the walk.

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