At least 100,000 people climb Whernside every year, many of whom are taking part in the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. But the main descent route from its summit has become so badly eroded the only option is to start again – at significant cost.
An iconic peak
At 736m, Whernside is the highest point in Yorkshire. People have been attracted to its summit since Victorian times, and today it is estimated that it gets well over 70,000 walkers every year. Whernside also provides the stunning backdrop to the Ribblehead viaduct and together they make one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Whernside is not only a fantastic walk in its own right, but also part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks route where thousands of people take the 26 mile challenge of walking Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in one day.
WATCH: ‘Mend the Yorkshire Dales’ on BMCTV
Last time round
The last Mend Our Mountains campaign helped to repair the Swine Tail path, the last climb before reaching the summit of Ingleborough from the north, the route taken by the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge. It made a big difference, as you can see in the photo below. Read more about this work and other projects funded by the last Mend Our Mountains campaign here.
Although the work of the first Mend Our Mountains was important, there is just as much work to do on another nearby path.
The main descent off the summit of Whernside is known locally as Bruntscar. The steepest section of the route is particularly susceptible to damage and the path is becoming increasingly eroded, making walking unpleasant, undermining the local ecology and creating an ever-widening scar on Yorkshire’s highest hillside.
This section of path, because of its instability and steepness, has posed problems over the years. In 2003 it was stone-pitched using stone sourced locally from the site. However the sheer pressure of use, the unsuitability of the stone, the site conditions and the wet Yorkshire weather means that its condition is deteriorating. In its current condition the route is extremely difficult to use, causing people to walk off route, which in turn is causing additional erosion on the adjacent slope.
A fresh start
Unfortunately, it seems that the ongoing battle to maintain the existing path has been lost – under the pressures it faces its condition has reached a level where the only solution is to start again.
This project will therefore create a new 200 metre section of stone-pitched path on the steepest section and landscape the adjacent areas of erosion. The newly created route would be sensitively designed to ensure the least possible impact on the landscape and provide a route that can stand up to the enormous number of walkers it receives every year.
For the work to be successful, we need to use stone that is of sufficient size to create a route that will provide a sustainable long-term walking surface. As this is not available on-site it will be necessary to fly in approximately 150 tonnes of hand-picked stone.
With an estimated project cost of £46,000, the scale of the task is huge given Bruntscar’s remote location and steep conditions. However, we feel that Whernside’s worth it!
We’re almost done – but you can still donate
Thanks to the generosity of thousands, the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal has succeeded in raising enough money to completely fund work on nearly all 13 of the projects we set out to support – a fantastic result.
Repairs have already started on several of these paths (see the blog for the latest updates), and the rest will be completed over the summer of 2019 and into 2020.
This project, Whernside, has already been fully funded. However, you are still very welcome to make a donation to Mend Our Mountains overall. Your money will go towards either supporting additional work on the projects listed on this website or helping to fund future Mend Our Mountains initiatives.
You can make a donation of any size – choose ‘Donate what you want’ – or select one of the other amounts.
All online donations are currently via PayPal – if you would prefer not to use this method or would like to make a large donation (£500~), please contact the team directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. All money raised goes via the BMC’s charity, the Access and Conservation Trust.