Waterfalls to Whernside

28 02 2012

The waterfalls walk from Ingleton is a beautiful walk but ‘proper walkers’ are sometimes a bit disdainful of it as it’s only around 3.5 miles long – although quite a tough, and a very interesting, 3.5 miles at that. Also, you have to pay for the pleasure of doing the waterfalls walk, which is all right and good, as the entrance fee pays for the upkeep of the superb pathways and bridges throughout the walk.

This is a walk I sometimes do to extend the Waterfalls Walk into hill territory and I have several variations of it (including using Oddies Lane for one half of the waterfall walk and thereby not always paying my way!) – depends on my mood.

Oddies Lane cuts up between the two rivers of the waterfalls walk and is extremely pleasant and sometimes I just don’t feel like following the crowds on the busier days up the made riverside paths.

There are a lot of attractions if the walk is extended up onto Twistleton Scars at the end of Whernside. You can also include Whernside but the ridge from above Ingleton is around 7 miles long. Here, I’ll describe the longer walk but point out the various attractions and shortening points en-route.

After you’ve parked up, admired this red hawthorn (if it’s May) and then paid the entrance fee for the waterfalls walk, you proceed on excellently-made and well-graded paths alongside the River Twiss up the gorge of Swilla Glen. The photo below is just one of the beautiful falls in the glen.

At the head of Swilla Glen the waterfalls culminate with this beauty – Thornton Force – as you can see from the photo below, a popular picnic and bathing place in summer. This waterfall is great in that you can scramble on the rocks behind it and sit and watch the world through a curtain of water.

From here you are out in the open and, as you continue round the next bend, the glories of Kingsdale’s limestone come into view.

You could opt out of the rest of the waterfall walk at this point if desired and explore Kingsdale. A left turn at the T junction across the river bridge would take you into Kingsdale and, a right turn at the road and another couple of miles along it take you to Yordas Cave – an ex show-cave and well worth a look.

Kingsdale – Dry Fall Approach to Yordas Cave

My Mum and I arrived at the cave entrance one summer’s day minus any kind of torch and gazed wistfully at the entrance. Soon, another couple rolled up in the same circumstances and joined us gazing wistfully… Not many minutes later, a couple of professional caving guys came along with all the gear including 1000-candlepower torches. Here was our opportunity, we all thought and, as they ducked through the entranceway into the gloom below, they were followed by four hopeful (and totally inexperienced) cavers!

The first part of the cave goes steeply down a muddy bank into the darkness. This was the point my mother decided she wasn’t really all that keen and backed out of the venture. The rest of us carried on behind the cavers (who surprisngly hadn’t told us to bugger off yet) – we’d have looked well if they’d been continuing on through the cave to come out somewhere else! They turned right at the foot of the muddy slope into the main passage of the cave where we all paddled up the underground beck to where we could hear the thunder of a great waterfall. The fall, when we reached it, was spectacular! It was behind a rock curtain wall with a large hole in it through which we could observe the waterfall crashing down behind. Very luckily for us, the cavers then decided to exit the cave the way we came in (don’t know if that was their original plan or not).

Anyway, assuming you haven’t gone off to Kingsdale for a little illicit caving, you continue on the track which curves east towards a farm. Nearly at the farm, a track rakes diagonally back off up the hillside to the left heading back away from the farm. This takes you up onto the end of Twistleton Scars – a superb area of limestone scenery with limestone pavements and areas of sinkholes with great views of Ingleborough. This is my favourite part of the walk.

Baaaa – bloody tourists!

The track zig-zags a bit and then heads straight to the point of the ridge where Whernside bursts into view.

If you head across to the obvious limestone pavement areas at this point and explore them, you will come across quite a few limestone-lined sink-holes, some quite deep.

I found one with a little limestone bridge across the depths and decided I had to make myself walk across it for a dare. Limestone is very slippery so don’t try this in the wet!

You have two choices at this point – you can either follow a path through the limestone pavement area which crosses Twistleton Scar but stays below the escarpment of Whernside’s Ridge – this is actually a more pleasant walk than heading for the peak itself but it depends on your objectives. I more often take the Twistleton Limestone Pavement walk than Whernside, mainly because I prefer the approach to Whernside from Ribblehead railway station.

If you follow the Twistleton Scar path, it eventually joins a farm track – a right turn onto this will take you down to Chapel-le-Dale. From there you can return either all the way down Oddies Lane to Ingleton (not unpleasant walking at all) or you can rejoin the waterfalls walk at the top of the hill above Ingleton and complete it by descending the River Doe – I actually prefer this side of the waterfalls walk myself.

Ingleborough from Oddies Lane

My Mum Pretending to do a High-Wire Act Across River Doe Stepping Stones (Twistleton Scars Behind)

I’ve also returned from Chapel-le-Dale over Ingleborough (2,372 feet) as the Chapel route is my favourite path up the peak. If you do decide to do that, the Crina Bottom/Fell Lane path off to the south-west from the summit takes you back to Ingleton.

Ingleborough From Chapel-le-Dale

But if you want to bag Whernside (2,416 feet), the biggest of ‘The Three Peaks’ of Yorkshire, head over to the wall running up the ridge to the summit. The ridge is long and grassy with a couple of rockier rises in the last mile or so. From the summit of Whernside, you have two choices of descent. One is longer and continues along the summit ridge until you descend off the end on a stone flagged path curving down to the right.

Whernside Behind Ribblehead Viaduct

Ingleborough Behind Ribblehead Viaduct

Passenger Train Crossing Viaduct

This takes you back towards the Ribblehead Viaduct (a couple of miles further on the path takes you to the pub at Ribblehead if you’re thirsty, if not, you turn off before then). This descent is quite pretty and passes, if you look back just before you reach the railway, a pretty waterfall and Blea Moor railway tunnel.

After crossing over the railway and following it for nearly another mile, a path takes off to the right through a livestock underpass under the line. This takes you back along under Whernside to Chapel-le-Dale village where you have the same options as above to return to Ingleton.

If you want a shorter walk back from the summit of Whernside, back-track from the summit along the ridge and down the two rocky descents where you will then see a path taking off to your left. This is steep and goes down narrow stone-pitching so might not be a good option in icy weather! This route again takes you to the track back to Chapel-le-Dale – turn right when you meet the farm track and right again at the village.

One evening returning on Oddies Lane I saw this dramatic evening sky…




12 responses

4 07 2013

I always spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s articles or reviews all the time along with a mug of coffee.


29 02 2012

I am ever amazed looking at your photos, Carol…I had no idea your terrain and geography in the Isles was as diverse as it is in your shots. You have a beautiful country…. Thank you for sharing it as you do. 🙂


29 02 2012

Thanks 🙂 We have almost as much diversity in landscape as we have unpredictability and variety of weather! 😉


29 02 2012

Funny how we get those balances. 🙂


28 02 2012

You’re certainly spoiling me with these posts at the moment as we’re off down to the Dales in a little over a month and heading to the Hebrides in the summer!

Great pics & report as usual – thanks for the share.


29 02 2012

You’re just going to the Hebs to make me green with envy!

I have another Hebs report in draft ready to put out – just don’t want to hammer everyone with too many posts at once – I’m sure everyone has lots else to read as well 🙂


28 02 2012

Had a couple of days great caving down there in mid winter in the past.Nice and quiet then with few tourists about the place.Your photos really capture the essence of that area well Carol. I,ll need to do the waterfall walk if I make it down there again.It Looks beautiful.There,s as many adventures to be had underground in that region though as there is on the surface.Hopefully I,ll stay topside and dry if I go back. I,m Too old and knackered now alas to enjoy crawling around on my belly in streambeds anymore.


29 02 2012

Hi Bob, Paul (below) has done a good report on the Waterfalls Walk with much better, and more, pictures. You should have a look…

I want to do some caving… just nothing really scary like a squeeze or a sump! 😮


28 02 2012
Paul Shorrock

Nice one, Carol!

In my potholing youth we occasionally went to Yordas if we had an hour to spare – there’s a nice through trip where you can abseil down the waterfall then exit the cave the way you did.

I wrote a route for walkingworld.com a couple of years back, which started and finished at the top of the waterfall walk and followed the Turbury Road out to Yordas, then followed footpaths via Braida Garth farm to get back – this avoids any road walking. I mentioned in the route description that it’s possible ‘with care’ to have a look inside Yordas.

A few months after the route went live on their website I was listening to the news on the radio and my ears pricked up when I heard something about a fatal accident in Yordas! I couldn’t believe it! And there’s me advising all and sundry to go wandering round inside.

I listened to the next news rather anxiously – they had got it wrong! It was Alum Pot near Selside where the accident had occurred. Relief all round.

Yordas is perfectly safe and all you need is a torch of some kind, though the entrance slope can be slippy. The main danger is the legendary giant called Yordas who apparently used to live in the cave, and whose diet consisted mainly of small boys! I thought small girls might have tasted better, but apparently not 🙂


29 02 2012

Ha! I’m gonna take my noisy neighbour-son then next time! I’m not used to having kids living next door (was a nice, quiet, elderly couple before) and I hate it – it’s totally screwing up my sleep off nightshifts 😦

My Mum and me did actually climb up above the waterfall afterwards (so she could see it after she’d turned back) and looked down the shaft you must abseil down. Now I can abseil, perhaps I should get someone to take me on the full route 🙂


28 02 2012
Suzi Smart

This looks great. I may just have to hike here in the summer when we are over there.


6 05 2015

Even if you just did the ‘Waterfalls Walk’ you’d enjoy it I’m sure. Where are you from?


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