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Whernside, the highest of the Three Peaks, by the Ribblehead Viaduct


Our little walking group thought it was time to walk Whernside again, we’ve been trying for a few weeks now but happenings in life haven’t allowed us, we’d also read that a new path had been laid on the west side and were interested to try it out. Friday was our day and so off we went to Ribblehead.

Ribblehead Viaduct is the most impressive structure on the Settle-Carlisle Railway and what I didn’t know is that it’s also known as Batty Moss Viaduct and carries the Settle–Carlisle railway across Batty Moss in the Ribble Valley. Well worth a visit even if you’re not walking or better still take a train ride which travels through some stunning countryside. Garsdale to Settle is a lovely ride and will take you over the viaduct, Settle is well worth a visit too.

Back to our walk………………. Safely parked on one of the laybys near the viaduct, promising ourselves an ice cream from the van on our return. Togged up, good footwear, map at the ready although the path is very well defined, the clouds were clearing from the top of Whernside and we were hopeful we were going to get good views and that the weather would be kind, the weather forecast wasn’t particularly good for the day but we were armed with waterproofs just in case. We set off towards the viaduct, there was even a train going over, and then followed by the side of the railway line to Blea Moor and started our climb so going in an anticlockwise direction. The walk starts slowly into the steady incline but ever onwards and upwards. Coming to a footpath junction we noticed the finger post indicated Deep Dale five plus miles and have noted this for another day, perhaps a day long walk we thought, but over the stile we went to continue to climb.

Once on the top there is a structure where you can rest a while and take photos of yourselves at the trigg point, most important of course! By this time the cloud had returned which obscured our view of anything at all but we were happy we’d made it to the highest point. After a short break we began our descent towards to the west. All was well, we said hello to a couple of guys who were busy with the path, thank you to them, it was well cleared here and again easy walking. By this time the cloud had lifted just a little and gave us this incredible view across the valley and the viaduct, never have I experienced anything like it looking directly under the cloud, what a treat! The mist continued to swirl, we were okay, the path was wide but then we started down the serious bit, steep of course as you would expect and the new path.

At first I felt okay but the way was so uneven, I’m not good with heights at the best of times but have learnt to take it steady and concentrate on where I’m putting my feet not the surroundings! Got so far down though and just froze, my nerve had gone, the way was just so scary. A few deep breaths did the trick and I was on my way again, very gingerly! Now I presume the stones will weather in, not sure, and there has been an awful lot of work put in by the volunteers which we thank them for but for me it wasn’t good. One in our party slipped down a couple of times perhaps because it was a little damp, one felt they were perfectly okay, the other two like me felt they were too uneven to be comfortable with. Two guys caught me up after I’d finally managed to make it down over the last of the new stones and I asked what they thought of the new path. ‘A bit dangerous’ was the response. They were doing all three peaks that day so not inexperienced walkers, I felt a little less whimpish with this, although they had seemed to scamper down! Needless to say, I’d really rather not go down the path again but more than willing to go the other way round next time, up the new stones! Always seems better to go up the awkward bits rather than down!

Into the valley at last, Ribblehead Viaduct beckoning, across fields and back to the car, a good walk after all as always, in some terrific countryside. We did go to The Station Inn and have lunch, always a warm welcome, a walker’s pub, and excellent soup and plenty to talk about! We forgot all about the ice cream until we were well on our way home, one for next time!!

Country Hideaways

Written By Nadine Bell

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