Activities Yorkshire

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

Where to park near Whernside?

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.

Shortest Route Up Whernside

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. The tarns 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 says:

    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!

    1. TheCamperVana says:

      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.

      1. Clare Field says:

        Brill. Thank you. It cuts off a fair few miles!

        1. TheCamperVana says:

          The best bit is you don’t see anyone else so you have the route to yourself! Hope you enjoy / enjoyed the walk.

  2. Teresa says:

    Stumbled across your post while looking for a shorter route up Whernside. What a find!! Walked it today and the only people we saw where a couple of paragliders. Very steep in places but only 90 mins up. We walked to the tarns afterwards and as the weather was fine, dry and good visibility we circled back round along the ridge top wall (bit boggy in places) rather than go back up the main path with the crowds doing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
    Thanks so much for sharing the route. We felt very smug emerging right next to the trig point haha!

    1. TheCamperVana says:

      Hi Theresa
      Many thanks for your comments. It’s a great route isn’t ist! It’s nice to feel that you have the route to yourself. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Nicky Grace says:

    Hi Ana

    Is this route suitable for doing with a dog? Bit concerned if it’s not an actual footpath and don’t want to cause any problems for the farmer.


    1. TheCamperVana says:

      Hi Nicky
      It was the farmer that recommended it to me! I can’t remember now if there were sheep about. However, I don’t recall any problem stiles. I was thinking about doing the walk at the weekend too! ENJOY! Ana

      1. Nicky Grace says:

        Thank you Ana!

  4. K Moore says:

    Thank you for this. We thought about the route when driving along Thorntons Lane but couldn’t see it marked on the OS map. I searched for a shorter route as I had developed back problems just before our trip and didn’t want to risk a longer walk.
    There is a reasonable path to the top and it took only 45 minutes. We met a few people at the top but no one on the way up or down. Just as well as there is limitedcparkinh and it would be a nightmare meeting lots of cars along the road.

    1. TheCamperVana says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! x

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