Great Shunner Fell, Yorkshire Dales; March 2015

Well it’s been ages and that’s because of being unwell, very busy at work and the way the chips have fallen. I went hiking this weekend which I will blog about in a few days, but I thought I better write up the below walk first.

For the last three years I’ve booked a cottage in one of our national parks for my birthday; the idea being to have a walk and a few beers. This year it was near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

I decided that Great Shunner Fell would be straight forward enough as I’ve walked it a couple times and it (along with the North Western Shoulder of High Cup Nick) has the most accommodating gradient which you could walk on all day and not notice it.

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The plan was to walk up and then track over open access land to an old miner’s track south of south east of the summit. I originally wanted to press on up the Pennine Way and then follow the next valley along back to Hawes, but felt this too much for the group.

We started off well, but then gaps gradually appeared in our number for various reasons – not least of which Mike who is my regular hiking partner who had exhausted himself cycling from Leeds the night before as well as having a knee injury which is still causing issues as I write today.

At first I walked with various people of the group, but, after a brief spell trying to get Mike to come along, pressed on ahead getting into a nice rhythm and through some snowy patches. None of the Lakes neve here just Dales soft snow which was easy to get through.

Arriving at the summit I realised the others were nowhere to be seen which I wasn’t too concerned about as there were two veterans of our Israel trekking with the group as well as my friend Mark (training to do the national three peaks) who is becoming a pretty strong hiker.  I watched for a while, but when it appeared they were a little time I curled up in the shelter and went to sleep. It had been tough at work that week.

Eventually the others caught up and we had lunch which was a bit of an issue because I’d now become pretty cold and my fingers have known more agile times.

Using the GPS to navigate I led us to the old miner’s track except there wasn’t any path – just the stream which the path follows. I pressed on inwardly shrugging my shoulders as I’m used to this kind of off piste crap (equal parts terrible navigation and wanting to go places that don’t have a path) and didn’t think much of it. However, this was too much for Mike’s Knee and I decided it best to head back up to the Pennine Way. This was a stiff climb without path over snowy/boggy ground albeit not a massive elevation gain – probably 150m or so. I got up followed by Mark and then people straggled up including Helen who was hysterical upon reaching us: when questioned later it was the difficulty of the climb combined with the Sisyphean reality of being back where she was about an hour before.

From here it was easy going with Mike’s knee much better on easier paths and everyone heading downhill. We got to the pub and had a couple of beers and all was well.

Next year I am going to stop inflicting hiking on people and go to London for a craft beer tour instead!

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