Great Whernside
Great Whernside.jpg
Great Whernside from next to Tor Dyke near the road between Kettlewell and Coverdale
Highest point
Elevation704 m (2,310 ft)
Prominencec. 288 m
Parent peakWhernside
ListingMarilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall
Coordinates54°09′39″N 1°59′54″W / 54.16091°N 1.99843°W / 54.16091; -1.99843Coordinates: 54°09′39″N 1°59′54″W / 54.16091°N 1.99843°W / 54.16091; -1.99843
Great Whernside is located in Yorkshire Dales
Great Whernside
Great Whernside
OS gridSE002739
Topo mapOS Landranger 98

Great Whernside is a fell in the Yorkshire Dales, England, not to be confused with Whernside, some 17 miles (27 km) to the west. Its summit is the highest point of the eastern flank of Wharfedale above Kettlewell. Great Whernside forms the watershed between Wharfedale and Nidderdale, and is on the boundary between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The River Nidd rises on the eastern slopes of Great Whernside, above Angram Reservoir.


The name Whernside, first recorded in 1214 as Querneside, is of Old English origin. It is derived from cweorn 'quern' or 'millstone' and sīde 'hillside', so means "hillside where millstones are found".[1] The upper part of the hill is composed of millstone grit, and there were once quarries on the Wharfedale side. According to one source the name was originally applied to the hillside on the Wharfedale side, and then extended to the whole hill as seen from Wharfedale. The hill as seen from Nidderdale was known as Blackfell.[2] The addition of Great was first recorded in 1771, apparently to distinguish the hill from Little Whernside.[1]


Until 1997 no public right of way was established to the summit of Great Whernside. In that year two public footpaths were registered, one from Kettlewell in Wharfedale to the summit and one along the summit ridge.[3] Following the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 large parts of the fell became open access land. Great Whernside can be ascended from Kettlewell,[4] or by a shorter route above Park Rash on the minor road from Kettlewell to Coverdale. It can also be ascended by a longer, less popular, route from Scar House Reservoir.[5] Routes from the East are often boggy even after prolonged dry weather.


Little Whernside, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) northeast of Great Whernside, forms the watershed between Coverdale and Nidderdale.

Hag Dyke, halfway between Kettlewell and the summit, is a hostel run by 1st Ben Rhydding Scout Group in Ilkley.

The fell is the site of several aircraft crashes.[6]

Tor Dike (situated on the north western flank) is an earthwork with ditch and rampart constructed in the limestone.[7] It appears to have been built either by Iron Age tribes, perhaps in the 1st century AD, to protect themselves from the invading Romans,[8] or in the Dark Ages.[9]


  1. ^ a b Smith, A. H. (1961). The Place-names of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Vol. 5. Cambridge University Press. p. 218.
  2. ^ Lucas, Joseph (1882). Studies in Nidderdale. p. 88. The Ordnance Survey map still uses Whernside for the western slopes.
  3. ^ Bibby, Andrew (2006). Wharfedale and Nidderdale. Freedom to Roam Guides. Frances Lincoln. pp. 79–81. ISBN 0 7112 2553 2.
  4. ^ Yorkshire Dales National Park website: Kettlewell Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Walk 2:Great Whernside from Nidderdale" (PDF). Open access walks. North Yorkshire County Council. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  6. ^ Peak District Aircrashes website
  7. ^ Photo on Geograph website
  8. ^ Brigantes Nation
  9. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 47039". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 16 November 2013.

Media related to Great Whernside at Wikimedia Commons