Buckden Pike is a fine hike in the heart of Upper Wharfedale. It is one of the Dales 30 mountains and in my opinion one, if not the, best.

It is a good first walk in the high mountains as well, good paths and full of interest including the memorable Polish War Memorial on the summit ridge.

I always enjoy getting the main climbing out the way early so exit the car park via a gate at its north end and head on a wide track to the steep flanks of Buckden Pike, initially skirting the steepest ground.

After passing through some pleasant woodland the track turns north east and, after a further 200 metres, divides at a small gate. A signpost points uphill to Buckden Pike. From here the path climbs steadily just north of east for one mile until it meets a wall near some steeper ground. Follow the wall (on your left) south east up some rock steps to the summit of Buckden Pike.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Buckden Pike walk map

The summit is distinctive; a trig point and a large cairn with a neighbouring, even taller post next to it. The views are superb in all directions, particularly to the west where all of the better known Yorkshire Three Peaks are displayed, and to the north towards the Howgills and the mountains above the valley of Mallerstang.

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Buckden Pike is one of the Dales 30 mountains; a challenge describing every mountain in the Yorkshire Dales over 2,000 feet. It is a satisfying and achievable challenge and to complete all 30 will bring you to wonderful, rarely visited areas such as this.

Head south along the wide summit ridge for nearly a mile, next to a wall and with a pleasant surprise at its conclusion. Just where the ridge starts to drop away look over the wall for the Polish War Memorial.

The cross is dedicated to the six Polish air crew who crashed on Buckden Pike in 1942 on a training exercise in bad winter weather. There was only one survivor, who was able to crawl to the pub at Cray and later helped commission the memorial. Look closely at the base of the cross which has parts of the aircraft embedded.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Buckden Pike Polish memorial

It is possible to carry on south and join a bridleway which winds its way gradually down towards Starbotton but I prefer returning towards the summit and taking a faint permissive path heading west at the stone wall, just to the south of the summit trig.

This leads south west down some steep slopes before arriving at the top of Buckden Gill and the remains of a 19th Century lead mine. Do not be tempted to head down the gill, but cross the little wooden bridge and take the footpath above the stone wall heading just west of south for three quarters of a mile.

Follow the wall to the point where it turns steeply downhill. A shortcut directly down to the village is possible but it is more sensible to carry on south for a further third of a mile to a further wall junction and a more obvious path.

The path then drops and reverses itself as it heads north back towards the car park at Buckden.

Walk facts:

Distance: Roughly six miles.

Height to climb: 500m (1,640 feet).

Start: SD 942774. There is a large car park at the north end of Buckden. The toilets were open with suitable hygiene last week.

Difficulty: Medium/hard. A steep climb in places is followed by a descent on intermittent paths. Some of the going is quite rough.

Refreshments: The Buck Inn in Buckden is the most popular place for a drink or snack.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL30) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

  • Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 mountains and Walks without Stiles. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website. • Climb the Three Peaks in three days (Yorkshire version) on September 6, 7 and 8. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle (next date September 2). All dates and details are on the Where2walk website. Where2walk.co.uk also features hundredss of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.