Yorkshire Dales Walks
Buckden Pike & Great Whernside
Date: 8th May 2004
Distance: 13.9 miles
Ascent: 2615 feet
Time: Too long ago to remember!
Start Grid Ref: SD942773
An extended walk taking in the twin Wharfedale giants of Buckden Pike and Great Whernside.
Route Summary: Buckden - Buckden Rake - Buckden Pike - Tor Mere Top - Little Hunters Sleets - Great Whernside - Hag Dyke - Kettlewell Dalesway - Buckden
1. On the summit of Buckden Pike
2. Boggy Buckden
3. Matt on Great Hunters Sleets with Nidd Head in the background
4. A hazy view up Wharfedale from the summit rocks of Great Whernside
5. Matt on the summit of Great Whernside
6. Looking down towards Kettlewell from Hag Dyke
8. Looking across the Wharfe up to Buckden Pike
Walk Detail: I think we both made the assumption the Yorkshire Three Peaks were the three highest summits in Yorkshire so I was surprised to find out that both Buckden Pike and Great Whernside were higher than Pen-Y-Ghent. By this time I was already hooked on walking so I just had to climb them. As preparation for the Three Peaks we decided to link these two Dales giants together to make a longer walk which involved climbing more than one peak. What we did not take into account though was how unremittingly boggy and wet Buckden Pike was.
Before we even reached the summit I had already put one leg in as far as my knee. On seeing this Matt then spent what seemed an eternity trying to find an alternative route to my own unfortunate choice. In doing so he got stuck on a wobbly tussock, the first time we had come across ‘blancmange’.
When we reached the summit of Buckden Pike the weather was fairly overcast and the views were underwhelming. Later, as we walked towards the memorial cross for the Polish airmen, we came across groups of people floundering around in the opposite direction. At the least this gave us heart, as we knew we were not the only ones suffering in the quagmire. Eventually as we got towards Tor Mere Top the ground became more solid.
Before starting our ascent of Great Whernside we were harassed by lapwings, something we would get used to that spring. The ascent of Great Whernside was quite steep and hard going though mercifully short from Little Humters Sleets. The plateau on top surprised me by how rocky it was.
The sun had finally begun to come out and we got some good views from the summit though we did not stay too long due to the presence of a rather grumpy looking group of climbers. The descent of Great Whernside still ranks as one of my favourite walking moments. The sun came out properly and much of the way we followed was on a delightful grassy path down to Kettlewell.
From Kettlewell we followed the river all the way back to Buckden. The last few miles were quite tiring and we were suffering from sore feet. It was a mixed walk, ‘Boggy’ Buckden was unpleasant and though I had no desire at the time to repeat the experience I have since returned twice. Great Whernside more than made up for the earlier bog hopping. Perhaps more importantly though it was having completed this walk that I really began to believe I could do the Three Peak Challenge.