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Great Whernside

  • Height: 704m (2,310 feet).
  • The River Nidd rises just to the east of the summit ridge.
  • Several aircraft have crashed on Great Whernside, resulting in many deaths of crew members.
  • The National Park boundary runs along the long summit ridge, taking in Black Fell Top and leads to Little Whernside.
  • Its name comes from the Old English cweorn-side meaning the hill from which the millstones come.

Great Whernside is the sixth highest mountain in the National Park, and not to be confused with Whernside in the Three Peaks, which is the highest.

The summit has on it a triangulation pillar and large cairn and consists of limestone, topped off with grit stone crags and a thinly-vegetated, peaty ridge.

Views extend to both coasts of England on clear day as well as Buckden Pike, high Dales peaks like Pen-y-ghent and Fountains Fell, and Lakeland mountains.

The summit can be reached by one route from Scar House Reservoir in Nidderdale and three from Kettlewell – one by  Hag Dyke, another via Tor Mere Road and a third from Coverhead Pass.

Hag Dyke – a Scout hostel administered by the Ben Rhydding Scout and Guide Group in Ben Rhydding, Ilkley – is one of the highest buildings in the county at 1,525ft. There is more information on the group's website.

Coming west off the summit at Black Dike End, the path leads into Tor Dyke, a large defensive earthwork that may date to the Dark Ages. Later it marked the boundary of Scale Park, a medieval hunting park, used amongst others by Charles II. Read more about medieval hunting parks on our Out of Oblivion website.

There are many signs of the leadmining industry on the western slopes, including a number of shallow shafts and leadmine shafts. Below the summit on Dowber Gill Beck is the Providence Lead Mine with its spoil heaps, crushing floor and remains of waterwheel building that powered crushing machinery. To read more about leadmining in the Yorkshire Dales, visit our Out of Oblivion website.

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