Whernside wander, Yorkshire Dales National Park, 15 November 2018

Needing to be in Skipton on the Friday and therefore to stay there overnight the night before, I decided that a walk in the Yorkshire Dales could be fitted in on the Thursday. The weather forecast was good and I’d initially decided to do a walk on Moughton Scars from Horton-in-Ribbesdale. However, I changed my plans and did a walk from Ribblehead instead so that I could photograph the sun setting behind Ribblehead viaduct.

So it was that I found myself leaving the train at Ribblehead at about 10:30 in glorious sunshine. Ominously though, there was cloud on Penyghent and Ingleborough, but Whernside, my destination was basking under a clear blue sky.

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My train leaving Ribblehead station with Whernside, my destination, in the background
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Looking back to a cloud covered Ingleborough

I headed north past the viaduct on a clear track that took me on past Blea Moor signal box, surely one of the most remote signal boxes in the country. The track continued alongside the railway and then crossed it close to the southern mouth of Blea Moor Tunnel. I was annoyed that just as I was walking away from the tunnel, a freight train rumbled out of it; it would have made a good photograph. The path started to climb, close to the impressive falls at Force Gill, much of it improved by the use of slabs, gradually describing a semi circle to get onto the north ridge of Whernside. As I got higher, there were tantalising views of Dent Dale and the Howgill Fells. By now, cloud had settled on Whernside, so the views changed as and when the cloud cleared and broke. I reached the summit at 736m and had my lunch in the lee of the wall that runs along the top of Whernside.

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The summit of Whernside

I now started the descent on the path used by Three Peakers climbing Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. Although the path had been improved, it was still heavily eroded in places and needed further work. The descent was quite steep and I was glad to reach the valley near Broadrake Farm. From here, in beautiful sunshine again, I walked across fields to Ribblehead viaduct and spent some time taking photographs of this impressive structure whose condition was almost responsible for the line closing in the late 1980s. Fortunately the viaduct was repaired and the line stayed open.

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Ribblehead viaduct from Whernside
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Train crossing Ribblehead viaduct
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Train crossing Ribblehead viaduct

Having reached Ribblehead, it was time to find a location to photograph the sun setting over the viaduct. I found a suitable spot east of the viaduct where I could get the whole viaduct in shot with Ingleborough in the background. The setting sun was beautiful but as soon as it set, a cool wind sprang up and I retired rapidly to the Station Inn for a pint of beer. The pub was quiet and it was pitch dark outside when I left to walk the short distance to the lonely station; there really is nothing in Ribblehead other than the pub and the railway station. The brightly lit station was a welcome sight and my train soon arrived to take me to Skipton.

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Sunset over Ribblehead viaduct; Ingleborough to the left
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Route taken from Ribblehead station
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