Great Shunner Fell from Hardraw.

Start. Hardraw.

Route. Hardraw - Hollin Hill - Bluebell Hill - Hearne Top - Black Hill Moss - Bleak Haw - Hearne Edge - Hearne Fell Hags - Great Shunner Fell - Hearne Fell Hags - Hearne Edge - Bleak Haw - Black Hill Moss - Hearne Top - Bluebell Hill - Hollin Hill - Hardraw.

Notes. Great Shunner Fell the highest ground in Wensleydale, at 2,349ft this hill gifts the walker, who can be bothered to make the long ascent with wonderful panoramic views over many dales, the principle two being Wensleydale and Swaledale. It's vast mires feed the River Swale and Ure but never fear the Pennine Way crosses the immense summit, measures installed to combat erosion include stone paving slabs stripped from derelict mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire, all add up to a dry traverse. I hold my hands up and admit the route today wasn't my intended, my intention was to make a round of Cotterdale. After summiting Great Shunner Fell I'd intended to traverse the watershed between Cotterdale and Swaledale before crossing the high ground of Lunds Fell above Mallerstang, eventually descending Cotter End, 14 plus miles of wonderful walking. Naively I thought snow on the high tops would bear my weight, it didn't, tramping in knee deep snow through pathless terrain had some air of finality about it, I listened for the voices in my head that usually lie, insisting it's fine to continue, in this case all I heard was the whistling of the mountain wind, the demons that guide me were silent, an ominous sign,wisely I turned back.

Just west of Hardraw a finger-post bears the acorn of the Pennine Way, this path was to guide me onto Great Shunner Fell. Ascending between the dry stone walls of the Hearne Coal Road I traversed Hollin Hill and Bluebell Hill before leaving the lane to access open fell. A good path guided me over Little Fell and Hearne Top then above Humesett Crags, the higher I climbed the deeper the snow. Over paving crossing Black Hill Moss before ascending Hearne Head, the snow was well above my knees up here, although not very far it took ages to cross Shunner Fell Hags to gain the summit. I sat a while mulling over the map, in the interest of self preservation I opted to re-trace my steps back to Hardraw before calling it a day in the bar of the Green Dragon.

view route map.


Dominating the scene, Wether Fell seen from near the start of the Hearne Coal Road.

In the confines of the Hearne Coal Road with stunning views across Wensleydale.

Rising from Wensleydale, Dodd Fell.

Looking over the great divide of Wensleydale, under snow Wether Fell.

On Bluebell Hill with this view behind me, Wether Fell towering above Wensleydale.

Viewing the deep snow slopes of Lovely Seat and the ribbon of the Buttertubs Pass, said to be one of the most spectacular passes in England, you'll have seen it on many a car add.

I've gained a little height now, the wind's icy, it looks like the walking will be to. On the far horizon Great Shunner Fell with Little Shunner Fell to the right.

A wonderful view across Wensleydale, taking centre stage Pike Hill.

The landscape's proving rather hard to identify all dressed up in it's winter clothes, lets just call this a wonderful view.

Stunning walking conditions above Crag End Beacon.

Heading through the wild emptiness above Hearne Edge looking to the summit of Great Shunner Fell, look closely you can just make out the summit shelter.

Magical views on the approach to the summit.

Nearing the summit of Great Shunner Fell, pausing to soak up the views to the north.

Almost there and I'm not alone.

The summit shelter with big skies and endless views.

Deep snow on Great Shunner Fell, do I really need to head in that direction?, well yes I do but common sense prevails, I'll be back when the weather warms a little.

Winter conditions across the Yorkshire Dales.

Distant views down the valley of Swaledale.

Looking south to Wensleydale over Hearne Edge hags.

Wandering through an icy wonderland viewing the sun lit slopes of Lovely Seat.

The peat hags and quarry scarred slopes of Pike Hill tumble into Wensleydale.

View taken from the final intake, Wensleydale the largest of the Dales of Yorkshire.

Widdale Fell and Cotter End seen over Cotterdale.

On the slopes of Bluebell Hill looking to Addlebrough across Wensleydale.

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