Great Whernside – last of the winter snow?

Great Whernside in distant

Date of walk – 7th April 2012. Distance 15km (9.75 miles) Total ascent 540 m (1770 ft). Time: 5 1/2 hours.

Route Taken: Kettlewell – Dowber Gill Beck- Providence Pot- Summit trig of Great Whernside-Blackfell Top-Black Dike hole-Nidd Head-  Gate (SE 0085676401)- Little Hunters Sleet-Cam Head-Top Mere Road- Kettlewell. 

The forecast did not look terribly good for most of the Easter weekend, but Saturday suggested 70% chance of cloud free summits in the Dales.  This coupled with the opportunity of walking in probably the last of the winter’s snow was too good a proposition.  The change in weather from the previous backpacking trip  was like day and night. I was back to my winter stuff after the unusually warm conditions a week previous.

Prior to starting this blog I rather stupidly lost hundred of photos from dozens of trips in the hills on a camera card which I did not back up.  One of these trips was Great Whernside. I am looking to repeat some of these trips so I  have photographic records of all my trips.

I parked up at Kettlewell and made my way through the small village and up the lane that runs along Dowber Gill Beck.  Turning off this lane and continuing along the Beck up to Providence pot – hole.

Dowber Gill Beck

 From here I followed a faint path northwards over deep snow drifts.

The ground leveled out for awhile before I put on my microspikes to give me some added traction whilst tackling a steep section of snow.

On top with the low cloud there was not much to see. Finding a suitable flat rock to sit down on I  brewed up while I ate my lunch.  There was little or no breeze on top which is pretty unusual for a 700 metre (2300 ft) summit  and almost certainly accounted for the cloud cover.

Summit trig

Just as I was packing up after lunch, the clouds started to part and for a short while I was able to see some more of the mountainside.

I set off along the ridge to Nidd Head via the shelter at Blackfell Top, the going was easy, not much snow about and on fairly decent paths.  There were good if a little misty views towards Scar House and Angram Reservoirs .

Angram & Scar House Reservoir

I tried to see if I could spy Meugher Hill on the other side of these reservoirs, the subject of James and Martin’s recent posts, but it was obscured by cloud.

My route dropped down to a gate in the wall next to a crossing path.   Through the gate I dropped in height further, along a path marked by some stakes.  The stakes soon ran out and the path disappeared under patches of deep snow.  This 2.5 km section was really rough going, slogging through deep snow and the very rough boggy terrain. Unable to figure out where the path was, I ploughed (almost felt like it at times) my own course stopping several times to de-layer and drink, as I was really working up a sweat on this difficult section.

Eventually I spied the path running down to the road near the remains of the Little Hunters Sleet Toll House on the Kettlewell – Leyburn road.

I passed two fell runners coming up the path which then turned into a swamp towards the road.  The first glimpses of sun was felt as I crossed the road and made my way along the path to Cam Head.

The snow was piled up deep against the stone walls, but it was quite easy to walk on or around.

From Cam Head it was a fairly straightforward walk along the track – Top Mere Road back down to the village of Kettlewell.

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18 Responses to Great Whernside – last of the winter snow?

  1. Your video really seemed to give off a cold feeling there! I once bivied out on the summit amongst all those rocks – it was one January and was very cold, but no snow.

    I notice you used your trusty microspikes again – I think I’m going to live in mine next winter, after this year’s slip!

    • Strange day, cold on this section but I was sweating buckets on the way down because there was such rough terrain. I don’t blame you about living in your microspikes. How is it going with your leg?

      • Today has actually been the very first day that I’ve started walking again in ordinary footwear. Quite a strange feeling! I still don’t have full range of movement in that ankle though so I shall asking for some physio when I see the consultant again in 2 weeks time. Beginning to think life might eventually get back to normal now, although the GP keeps telling me not to expect too much for the next 6 months or so. He said yesterday that anyone ‘normal’ probably wouldn’t notice any problems, but that someone like me who wants to be walking great distances in the hills might notice swelling etc for quite a while whenever I push it. I’ll have to make sure I’ve got a supply of ibuprofen with me wherever I go! Off to Norway in the summer for 5 weeks, so that’s the next big target now. :)

      • Hey that is good to hear. It takes time, I took 6 months or more to walk properly after snapping my achilles tendon (not quite the same), but I was in a plaster after an operation for a similar amount of time. Mary my wife after all the terrible problems she has had after her accident is back to some sense of normality. It is two years now. We are taken the dogs for walks in the woods in our village, usually about an hour every other day, but I doubt whether she will really get back to how she once was. Her ankle swells up when she has gone too far. I sure you will make a full recovery. Five weeks in Norway, sounds great !

  2. Great post Mark – one of my favourite Dales walks.

  3. GeoffC says:

    Atmospheric photos there, especially the contrast of snow against the dark grey sky. Nice top Great Whernside, pitched there once.
    Did you have to use the pay car park in Kettlewell?. There were just a few roadside spots on the last visit, but maybe they have those sewn up now.

    • Thanks Geoff. I parked at the car park. £4.00 for all day parking. Didn’t see any spare places. A sign says that there is £2.00 parking, I think it was at the campsite opposite the car park, but it looked full with caravans and tents. I don’t mind putting some money back into the local community – hopefully the money does not go elsewhere.

  4. Alan R says:

    Good walk and photo’s Mark, Lovely area. I am hoping to get a walk there myself this year, i havn’t been to Kettlewell for a while.

  5. Jules says:

    Enjoyed the report and photos! Pity about the grey weather, but I know why you’d want to catch possibly the last of the snow!

  6. Martin Rye says:

    I dont recall walking on Great Whernside. Must make amends. A fine walk with contrasting conditions. We must do a walk there sometime Mark.

    • Not very far from your trip with James the other week. Looking at the map if I had a bit longer then I could have taken in Meugher Hill. Looked for it from the summit, but obscured by cloud.

  7. surfnslide says:

    Brings back some memories for me. I’ve skiied Great Whernside once and on another occasion nearly came to grief by nearly getting be-nighted in a white-out after deciding a stroll to the top after a several lunchtime beers was a good idea – very silly but it was 30 years ago and I was young and foolish

    Great report though, some really interesting features up that way

  8. backpackingbongos says:

    Looks like a good day out there Mark. Amazing the contrast weather wise to the last trip you had in the Dales.

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