Route taken: Hardraw – Pennine Way – Black Hill Moss – Hearne Head- Great Shunner Fell – Stony Hill – Pickersett Edge – Hearne Coal Road- Hardraw. 15.4 Km ( 9.5 miles) – 4.5 hours
The opportunity for a walk in anything other than low cloud and rain has been a rare event during much of November, December and early January, so when the forecast suggested a weekend of fine weather, I knew I had to grab the opportunity. Ideally it would have been the whole weekend walking, but I had been away on business for most of the working week and I don’t think it is particularly fair on the family to say – “I have been away for the whole week – I’m off for the weekend – see you !”
Given the shortage of time, I was looking for area within reasonable driving distance of home and which would offer great views, something missing of late in my walks with the dire weather we have had.
Great Shunner Fell at 716m (2350 feet) is the 3rd highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales, despite this, it does not feature in the 3 Peaks challenge, it’s place taken by the lower Pen-y-ghent.
I parked up on the roadside of Hardraw village, just outside Hawes, in Wensleydale. The temperature was around – 5C and clear, but with high cloud moving in. Within a few metres I was on the Pennine Way heading gradually uphill on a very icy track.
The climbing is relatively easy to the top, with the view opening up more and more each time you stop. In places, slabs are laid down to avoid very boggy conditions, not a problem today as everywhere was frozen sold, but made for lethal walking conditions on the slabs and rocky areas. Kahtoola microspikes are great for this type of situation.
Unfortunately, the weather was not going to be crystal clear as it had been on Saturday and the sun was blotted out by high cloud. By the time I had reached Hearne Head, a strong cold wind had whipped up and with the temperature below freezing gave quite a wind chill. I reached the stone shelter at the summit at lunchtime and was glad to have refuge from the biting wind.
In weather like this, taking a leisurely lunch is not a wise option, so after having my fill, I headed off in a South-east direction away from the Pennine Way down Stony Hill and along the ridge of Pickersett Edge. The frozen ground made for relatively easy going, which normally would be a slog through very boggy ground. I was heading straight into the biting wind, it was bitter, but I was warm except where the chill wind caught my face.
There is no obvious path over this ground, so one needs to take a bearing or follow to a waypoint, aiming for the start of the Hearne Coal Road. There is a very well made track, this is not what you are looking for. This is a road which serves the shooting boxes and ends up on private land – so avoid taking this route. Eventually I reached some small spoil heaps, the start of the road, although there is no road at all, just a faint path which becomes more distinct the further one walks . From here I walked back to Hardraw due south along the Hearne Valley, along side the beck meeting up with the Pennine Way near to Hardraw.