Yorkshire Dales Walks
Date: 19th February 2005
Distance: 9.3 miles
Ascent: 1521 feet
Time: 4 hours 15 mins
Start Grid Ref: SE065884
An enjoyable walk up to the top of Pen Hill, arguably the finest hill in Wensleydale.
Route Summary: West Witton - Scot Gate - Templar Preceptory - High Lane - West Witton Moor - Black Scar - Height of Hazely - Penhill Scar - Witton Steeps - West Witton
1. Matt in the remains of the Templar Preceptory
2. Looking across the valley to Bolton Castle
3. Looking up to Penhill Scar
4. A distant view of Bishopdale
5. On the unmarked top of Height of Hazely
6. Looking south towards Great Haw from the shooters' track
7. Matt by the stone trig point on Pen Hill
8. A view of Coverdale from Pen Hill End
9. The large cairn on Pen Hill End
10. Looking back up to Pen Hill End and Penhill Scar
Walk Detail: After the previous day’s exertions I was a bit wary about my knee but it seemed fine as we started off. After a mile and a half of empty fields (where were the sheep?) we arrived at the under whelming ruins of the Templar’s Preceptory.
After a couple of photos we headed along a number of well maintained tracks up the terraced hillside towards Pen Hill. It made for interesting climbing with short steep sections punctuated by flatter moments. The final climb up between Pen Hill Scar and Black Scar was a real joy and we had some great views down Wensleydale, particularly of Addlebrough and Wether Fell.
The weather was very bright and clear but unfortunately there was a cloud sat over Pen Hill that blocked the sun from shining directly on where we were, there was also a very strong wind (again!!).
After the climb zig zagging up the scar the terrain changed dramatically into a fairly flat sea of heather at the top. Being purists (or idiots if you like) we had to make the lengthy diversion to the Height of Hazeley, the true summit of Pen Hill, an unmarked and fairly indeterminate point to the southwest. Still by going that way we did get some good views down into Bishopdale and across to Naughtberry Hill and Buckden Pike and we found a nice point to stop for lunch on the way.
Rather than retrace our steps along the wall we decided to cut across the moor. What followed was a painfully slow trod through knee deep heather where it was very difficult to see where you were putting your feet. Eventually we found our way to a shooter’s track which wasn’t marked on the map which we followed back to the gate where we had climbed over on to the moor top.
From there we followed the wall east to the stone trig point and then on to the large cairn on Pen Hill End which, at the time, I mistakenly took to be the beacon site which we missed altogether.
The descent was down similar paths to the ones we had followed up but this time my enjoyment was tempered by a recurrence of the pain in my knee. Matt was kind enough to let me use his brand new walking poles which were particularly useful on some of the steeper sections. All in all this was a nice walk. Pen Hill is one of the most visually impressive hills in the Dales and though it lacks the height of the more western hills it easily dominates the eastern end of Wensleydale and so gives good views in most directions.