Penhill is one of the most familiar landmarks in the Dales, standing at the entrance to Wensleydale. This walk takes us to the top of Penhill from the south, starting in West Burton and heading south into Waldendale, before climbing up to the top of a pass that leads into Coverdale. This brings us to the southern end of Penhill, from where we get spectacular views into Wensleydale.
Ascent: 1,600ft/ 480m
Length: 8.7 miles/ 14km
Map: Explorer 30 Yorkshire Dales North and Central
Last Walked: 4 May 2007
We start this walk from the very pretty village of West Burton, at the entrance to Walden and Bishopdale. There is a reasonable amount of roadside parking by the village green - as always be careful not to block anyone's access.
1: SE 018 867
We start on the pretty sloping village green in the centre of the village of West Burton. Head down hill towards the north eastern corner of the green. Here the road turns to the left, while a small lane turns right. Turn right onto this lane, which soon brings us to Walden Beck, and an impressive waterfall. There is also a bridge across the stream. Cross over this bridge, and take the footpath that climbs up the slope on the far side. At the top of this short climb the path enters a field, and turns to the right. Follow the path along the right hand side of this field, passing just to the right of a field barn and into the next field.
2: SE 020 867
We are now at the western end of an irregularly, roughly L-shaped field. Our path follows the right hand wall of this field as it bends around to the right, leaving through the south wall of the field. Our path then runs across the middle of the next three
fields. In the next (fourth) field the far wall runs diagonally across the field. Our path reaches it, and then follows it to the right, heading downhill with the wall on the left. It the runs diagonally across the next field, returning to the side of Walden Beck, before running alongside the beck through two more fields, before reaching a side road at Cote Bridge.
3: SE 018 856
Turn left onto this road, continuing to head south. We only stay on this road for 500 feet. Just after the road crosses over a small beck, a rough track leaves the road to the left, running between two stone walls as it climbs up the valley of Thupton Gill.
4: SE 024 852
After just under half a mile, the track emerges from between the walls, and turns sharply to the right. Here there is a rare error on the OS map. A right of way exists over the pass ahead into Coverdale. Here, that right of way is show as cutting diagonally across the broken ground directly ahead, while the track heads off up Harland Hill to the right. This is no longer the case - the diagonal path no longer exists on the ground. Instead, turn right, and follow the track for about 500 feet, with a stone wall to the right and the open hillside to the left. When the wall ends, the track turns to the left and splits in two. The leftmost branch turns through ninety degrees to the left, and heads up towards the pass. Take this track and follow it for the next three quarters of a mile, until it reaches the top of the pass.
5: SE 033 850
At the top of the pass a stone wall runs from north to south along the top of the ridge that links Penhill to Harland Hill. Just before we reach this wall, a rough land-rover track leaves the main track, heading left up the hill. Turn left and follow this track uphill, heading gradually towards that wall. Eventually it reaches the wall, and turns into more of a path. Follow this path as it heads north alongside the wall. After a bit the wall is replaced by a fence, which runs up to the highest point on the Height of Hazely.
6: SE 037 860
At the highest point on this boggy plateau, our fence joins a second fence running west-to-east across the hill. Turn left and follow this fence for a short distance, until it turns into a wall. The last segment of the fence is lower than the rest, with a small pile of rocks at its base. Cross the fence here. A reasonably clear path heads north
away from the fence, roughly following the edge of the summit plateau. After just under a fifth of a mile this path reaches a wall which follows the northern edge of the plateau. We follow this path with the wall to our left for just over a mile. This section of the walk provides fantastic views down into Wensleydale.
7: SE 053 865
We follow this path all the way to the eastern end of Penhill. A quarter of a mile before this we pass the trig point on Penhill. The path then reaches the eastern edge of the hill, overlooking Coverdale. At this point a stile crosses the wall to the left. Take this stile.
Here we are going to deviate slightly from the official right of way. Instead of descending immediately down the side of the hill, we are going to continue north east along the high ground towards the very large cairn at the north eastern corner of the hill. From here a path heads north east off the summit plateau.
8: SE 058 868
We follow this path into the next field. Here a very useful permissive footpath leaves to the left, heading north , downhill along the left hand side of the field. Follow this path across the field.
9: SE 058 873
At the end of the field the permissive path reaches Flint Lane. Turn left onto this track, and follow it west for the next half a mile.
10: SE 049 872
For most of this distance the track runs between two stone walls. It then enters a field, following the left hand wall, and then passes through a gate into the field to the left. In this field follow the clear path that continues on to the west, with the wall to the right and the remains of Penhill Quarry to the left.
11: SE 042 872
After about a third of a mile we approach the western end of this field. Here the track passes back through the wall, and begins to drop down the next step in the side of the hill. Follow this track as it heads north through the next two fields.
12: SE 044 878
At the end of the second field we reach High Lane. Turn left and follow this track for the next mile as it curves around the northern slopes of Penhill, at first heading west, but eventually turning to the south.
13: SE 029 878
At this point the track splits in two. The left hand branch starts to climb gently up the hillside, while the right hand branch drops steeply down the side of the hill. Take this right hand branch, and follow it down hill all the way to the main road just outside West Burton. Turn left and follow this road back into West Burton, keeping the Walden Beck to your left all the way to the bottom of the village green and our starting point.