Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Great Shunner Fell and Lovely Seat from Hawes 31.8.13



A circular walk, 14.1 miles. 6 - 7 hours.

This Yorkshire Dales walk heads from the North Yorkshire town of Hawes in Wensleydale, through to the edges of Swaledale and back, taking in two of the Dale's summits over 2000 feet.

I had planned this particular walk back in December initially as a winter hike, but with last winter being as harsh as it was - the task of actually getting to these fells on an available weekend to me was nearly impossible. I had almost forgotten about the walk and the route I had drawn up and all the planning to get there, so after a quick refresh of the route again and the transportation times - it was time to get this one done.

 It was a Saturday, and a sunny end to the month of August. The train from Leeds was pretty busy, packed with hikers and cyclists off for an adventure in the hills and moors of the Settle-Carlisle railway area. The stop for this hike is the Cumbrian village of Garsdale, some two and a half hours north from Leeds. As predicted the vast majority of hikers got off at the popular destination of Horton-in-Ribblesdale and further up the line - Ribblehead. But arriving into Garsdale I was certainly not alone, a guided walking group got off the train with me. As expected the Little White Bus - a reliable and vital link to the surrounding villages was waiting to take us to our destinations. In order to get to the other side of the railway at Garsdale where the bus was parked, you need to head along to the end of the platform and then cut left along a lane, and pass under the railway bridge, then turn left again up a steep slope to get to the car park where the bus was waiting. For £3 the friendly bus driver took me the 20 or so minute journey to Hawes where the walk begins.

This picture taken just after getting off the bus in the market place in the centre of Hawes...
  It was a breezy day, and if anything the north-westerly wind felt a bit chilly after the heat of the last few months. The route I drew up takes you more or less straight north through the pretty village, Hawes is worth a visit in itself, the Tour De France is heading through here next year and this place will be heaving with folk trying to get a glimpse of the race. 
 Here heading out of the village on the road towards Hardraw...
The edges of Stags Fell high above...
The route now cuts away from the road and follows the edge of the River Ure directly towards Hardraw...
The Green Dragon at Harwdraw is another possible starting point for this walk...
The route now turns left at the Green Dragon pub and heads along the road for about 300 yards before you need to cut right onto the Pennine Way...
This wide track is where the climb starts...
An interesting warning...
The wide and seemingly drivable path gets a bit more rugged from here on and continues to climb, in the below picture the dark area of moorland to the centre right you can see is the distant high point of the walk - Great Shunner Fell...
Heading across the moorland of Black Hill Moss here...
As with so much of the Pennine Way - at this point flag stones have been laid to help walkers across the peat bogs. This is a place that I would imagine was pretty grim before they placed these here...
Cairns also mark the way for a reassurance if in low cloud...
Here just to the north east of Broadmea Crag - the final steep part of the climb begins before reaching the summit...
The summit comes into view...
Great Shunner Fell - the third highest point in the Yorkshire Dales at 716 metres (2,349ft) summit is marked by a cross shaped wind shelter...
The summit Trig Point is interestingly built into the wind shelter's northern arm...
The wind was pretty strong on the summit, so I was quick to move on. My route continues along the Pennine way for just another 200 yards or so before cutting right out onto the wild open moor called Thwaite Common, the fence in the below picture and quad bike track is the path I used to continue on towards the lower slopes of Great Shunner Fell...
 The distant and remote Rogan's Seat is a notable high point to the north east...
The steep downhill path heads towards my next goal - Lovely Seat...
Where the land flattens out just to the west of Grainy Gill Moss, it is quite boggy and can be bit tricky to navigate...
The surprisingly impressive profile of Lovely Seat is clear up ahead now, the ridge on the side of the fell to the left in the below picture is called Long Scar...
The path drops away to reveal the Buttertubs Pass, a high road that is seemingly a favourite with cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers. The Buttertubs that the road is named after are a series of deep potholes that the road passes, they apparently take their name from the days when farmers would rest there on their way to market. When the weather was hot, they would lower the butter they had brought with them into the potholes to keep it cool.
 This road will also feature in next years Tour de France as one of the King of the Mountains stages...
My route follows the edge of the road south for a short while, before descending onto the road itself...
After about 200 yards this well walked path cuts off to the left allowing out onto the side of Lovely Seat...
 A fairly tough looking climb ahead here...
Looking back towards a now distant Great Shunner Fell from the lower slopes of Lovely Seat...
 A fence provides a good way marker to follow towards the summit...
The 675 metre (2,215 ft) summit is marked by a cairn and a large stone built chair...
Here the chair with a shadowy Wild Boar Fell just behind to its right, and Great Shunner Fell...
The Yorkshire Three Peaks are all visible from the summit, in particular Ingleborough is the most distinguishable here in the distance to the right of the chair... 
The route continues south now towards a stile...

After crossing the stile the route cuts left following a fence until the moor drops steeply away...
 A tricky part of the walk here and some navigation is required across the peat bogs and uneven tufted grassy moorland...
After a tough old slog across the lower slopes of Lovely Seat, a series of Grouse shooting butts provide a rough route path...
That's handy...
After slogging across the boggy and uneven lower slopes of Lovely Seat I could have kissed this track - great to get back onto a substantial path after the moor...
It's a good mile and half of walking this track before heading off it and cutting right on a downhill path...
Hawes comes back into view from the upper slopes of Stags Fell...
I just had to take a close up picture of this interesting looking high point, Addlebrough - it looks well worth a walk up at some point in the future...
Addlebrough in the distance as I head towards the village of Sedbusk. The outline of Buckden Pike is just about visible too sticking up behind the ridge line in the right of the below picture...
Sedbusk, with the high point of Dodd Fell beyond...
And finally back into Hawes for the bus back to Garsdale, after a pint of course.
Overall a good hike that took me 5 hours. In bad weather I would allow yourself at least two more hours due to the terrain. Thanks for reading.
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