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.
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.
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 .
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.