Height of Hazely is the name given to the large, flat and heathery summit of Penhill, one of the better known hills in the eastern Dales.
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Indeed only peak baggers are probably aware of the name Height of Hazely, for most people the fell is called Penhill. The majority of walkers who head up on to Penhill don’t even go near the summit and instead stick to the Penhill Scar / Penhill End side of the fell. As a peak bagger myself I have to admit that out of my four visits to Penhill only twice have I gone up to Height of Hazely.
The reason for this is fairly simple, not only does the summit require a ‘there and back’ detour from the main paths on Penhill, but it is also a fairly uninspiring place. Unmarked by cairn or trig point the summit is a slight rise on a flat moor. Now there is nothing wrong with a featureless summit but in this case it contrasts badly with all the interest the fell has to offer elsewhere. For Penhill is one of the finest hills in Wensleydale.
It is fair to say that Penhill dominates the views of the eastern end of Wensleydale, it is a constant presence in the lives of local people who live in the local villages. So recognisable is its profile it is one of the few Dales hills that can be individually identified from the Hambleton Hills across the other side of the Vale of Mowbray.
Its steep flanks drop down in a series of terraces towards the village of West Witton, probably the best starting point for climbing Height of Hazely from Wensleydale. There are numerous options for climbing Penhill from West Witton, all of which end in either a climb up to the cairn on Penhill End, or up the sunken zig-zag path between Penhill Scar and Black Scar. The latter is my favourite route and ends at a gate in the wall. Most people will turn left at the wall and follow the path above Penhill Scar. For the summit pass through the gate and follow a faint path shadowing the wall for approximately a mile to reach Height of Hazely.
Turning left however is where some of the more interesting features of Penhill can be found, not least the opportunity to walk above the steep crags of Penhill Scar. The views of Wensleydale, both up and down dale, are superb. On a fine day the distant outline of the North York Moors is well seen as can, less picturesquely, the chimneys and factories of industrial Cleveland.
Sat back from the edge is a broken wall and fence. On the other side of the wall from Penhill Scar can be found the Penhill trig point which sits at an altitude of 526m, 27m lower than the summit. The difference in height being almost indiscernible when looking towards the latter as the increase in height is so gradual across Hazely Peat Moor.
Further south along the edge the site of the former Penhill Beacon can be found. Now just a green mound this was once the site of one of the many beacons that adorned the hills of the Pennines, ready to warn people of invasion.
Continuing on, at Penhill End, there is a large cairn which is something of a landmark that can often be picked out from the valley below. This used to be a solid square shaped cairn but seems to have been recently refashioned in to a shelter cairn. The views of lower Wensleydale from Penhill End are simply superb.
Penhill End can also be reached on a good path climbing out of Carlton in Coverdale which crosses Melmerby Moor before taking the bridleway up on Penhill End, a path also known as the Middleham Peat Road. Another option from Carlton include forking off the Melmerby Moor route to take a shooters track that climbs all the way up to the gate at the top of Black Scar path.
A more direct route to Height of Hazely from Carlton is to take the bridleway that crosses the saddle between Height of Hazely and Harland Hill before dropping down into Waldendale. Upon reaching the saddle simply turn north and climb on the left hand side of the wall up to the top. This route can also be used for people who may want to start from Waldendale or West Burton.