Great Shunner Fell from Hardraw.

Start. Hardraw.

Route. Hardraw - Hollin Hill - Bluebell Hill - Little Fell - Hearne Top - Great Shunner Fell - Little Shunner Fell - Butter Tubs Pass (Cliff Gate Road) - Shaw Gill Wood - West House Farm - Hardraw.

Notes. Great Shunner Fell at 2,349ft the third highest mountain in the Dales, this sprawling mass of high upland wilderness, at almost twenty square miles in extent is no stroll in the park. The five miles along the Pennine Way from Hardraw are long miles, the summit seems tantalizingly close but never gets any nearer. The first time I graced these slopes was way back in the early eighties, the walk in was wet and treacherous, the path around severn foot in width cut through peaty ground with no escaping wet feet, and the discomfort that followed. In 1996 a paved path was laid making for easy passage and less erosion.

I've got Sue for company so have opted for a long but relatively easy ascent. From Hardraw a finger post invites walkers to ascend the Pennine Way, the dry stone walls of the Hearne Coal Road guided us over Hollin Hill and Bluebell Hill before we left the old road at a fingerpost signed the Pennine Way. Still ascending we crossed Little Fell then Hearne Top where we ignored a finger-post to Cotterdale in favour of the one to Thwaite. A paved path carried us across Black Hill Moss before the final pull to the summit, adorning the summit a cross shaped wind shelter incorperating a trig point at the end of it's eastern arm, where we sat down had a brew and planned our descent. To the east of the summit a boundary fence leads down the fell, this was to guide us over Little Shunner Fell and Hood Rigg as far as the Butter Tubs Pass. We stepped over a stile to begin our descent, this turned out to be a wonderful way off the hill, following the fence line through wild, lonely rolling moorland, just us the mountain birds and silence, a descent over soft turf, easy on the joints, all too soon we stepped onto the Butter Tubs Pass.

The boring bit next, well the road walking was a little tedious, almost two miles but the views were quite spectacular. After passing the disused High Quarry we entered fields to make our descent to Shaw Gill Wood, this is a must visit. The beck, Hardraw Beck cuts through a delightful hidden dell tumbling over several small falls in a ever ending hurry to reach the big one, Hardraw Force. The woodland is full of wild flowers predominantly wood garlic at this time of year, alive with bird life, mosses and lichen cling to the trees, it's a cool enchanting place, all too soon we stepped onto tarmac again. A hundred yards along the road a path lead through West House Farm followed by a steep descent over grass back to our starting point.

view route map.


Welcome to sunny Wensleydale.

On the skyline partially hidden by the morning mist, Abbotside Common seen over Smithy Hill.

Hazy views into Wensleydale.

Parting of the ways, it's the Pennine Way for us, all the way to the summit.

Pike Hill across Fossdale.

This gate and ladder stile mark the access point onto protected grouse moorland, the view a hazy Wensleydale.

And just to prove a point this little fellow refused to move from the path edge.

Looking to the eastern Mallerstang skyline, High Seat and Gregory Chapel.

Rising above Wensleydale, the Pike Hill slopes of Abbotside Common.

The summit shelter and trig pillow, Great Shunner Fell.

Sue soaks up the views from our descent path, blue/grey across the horizon Loveley Seat.

Looking back up the eastern slopes of Great Shunner Fell.

Looking to Swaledale from the traverse of Little Shunner Fell.

Across the Butter Tubs Pass (Cliff Gate Road) Loveley Seat.

Sue strides out along the Butter Tubs Pass one of the most spectacular passes in the north of England, only the Lakes can claim better, Hardknott and Wrynose.

As seen from the Butter Tubs Pass, Great Shunner Fell.

A hazy view west across Wensleydale.

Just visible through the early afternoon murk, Hawes.

In Shaw Gill Wood looking to one of the many cascades of Hardraw Beck.

Our route through Shaw Gill Wood.

Through the gate Dodd Fell and the path to Hardraw.

Looking down on the small village of Hardraw.

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