Yorkshire Dales Walks
Whernside via Force Gill
Date: 11th Sept 2010
Distance: 7.7 miles
Ascent: 1593 feet
Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Start Grid Ref: SD764790
Route Summary: Ribblehead - Blue Clay Ridge - Force Gill - Greensett Tarn - Whernside - Broadrake - Ivescar - Ribblehead
Walk Summary: Although this was my sixth visit to Whernside it was the first time it had featured in a walk of mine for nearly five years.
I hadn't actually planned on going up Whernside this year but when Claire, my sister-in-law, had said that she wanted to start walking as a hobby I offered to take her out on an expedition and I plumped for this walk.
The first time I'd visited Whernside with Matt we'd gone up the popular path via Blea Moor Sidings and while it was a nice walk there wasn't too much of interest after crossing the railway line apart from a distant glimpse of the large lower waterfall of Force Gill. On our second visit we'd had to take a rougher route to the south of Force Gill as we'd been unable to cross Little Dale Beck.
This time I wanted to explore Force Gill in more detail and also visit Greensett Tarn which I had only previously seen from up on the ridge.
We were greeted on our arrival at Ribblehead by a particularly heavy shower and the sight of low cloud covering most of Whernside. Fortuntately by the time we'd donned our waterproofs the rain had eased off and by the time we got to Blea Moor Sidings the clouds began to break.
As a route of ascent Force Gill was something of a revelation. In places a thin trod on the north side of the stream made walking fairly easy while the intimate views of the the two main waterfalls were really quite stupendous. It was a particularly busy day on the fell with lots of Three Peakers and so while the main path looked like there was a line of ants marching along it we had Force Gill all to ourselves.
From the top of Force Gill we navigated a section of marshy ground to reach both Greensett Tarn and the cloud level so we decided to sit by the tarn to eat our lunch and enjoy the view over its peaceful waters.
After our lunch a short steep section took us back on to the main path and an easy pull up to the summit where we had to get into a queue to have our photo taken by the trig point. One party contained a four year old lad who had not only attained the top of the highest peak in the Dales but had done so via the steep route from Winterscales.
While Claire had really enjoyed the walk thus far I was a bit disappointed for her that the cloud was still covering the summit so she would be unable to get a view. We were very lucky therefore that only five minutes after leaving the summit the cloud cleared sufficiently for us to have a grand view back down to Ribblehead.
Only a few minutes later as we began the descent the cloud came down again. As much as I love Whernside I don't really like the route down to Bruntscar especially after rain makes the already tricky path wet and slippy. After negotiating this stage the final section of the walk was a nice easy stroll back through the fields to Ribblehead.
Claire had thoroughly enjoyed the day and had actually shown herself to be much fitter than I had been the first time I'd visited Whernside. It was also nice for me because I'd been able to gain a new perspective on an old favourite.
1. Claire all kitted out for her Whernside adventure
2. Ribblehead Viaduct
3. Safely navigating the stepping stones
4. The entrance to Blea Moor Tunnel
5. Approaching Force Gill Force
6. Claire and Force Gill Force
7. Looking down at Force Gill Force
8. Force Gill
9. Looking back at Blea Moor
10. Upper Force Gill Force
11. By Greensett Tarn
12. Looking back down on Greensett Tarn
13. On the summit of Whernside
14. Looking back down to Ribblehead
15. Looking south west to Combe Scar
16. Ribblehead from just above Bruntscar
17. Ribblehead Viaduct from near Gunnerfleet Farm
18. Looking back at Whernside