Yorkshire Dales Walks
Great Shunner Fell & High Seat
Date: 3rd September 2005
Distance: 19.3 miles
Ascent: 2872 feet
Time: 9 hours 15 mins
With: Matt and Jo
Start Grid Ref: SD866911
A long but hugely enjoyable walk linking together Great Shunner Fell and High Seat, two of the giants of the Yorkshire Dales.
Route Summary: Hardraw - Pennine Way - Great Shunner Fell - Knoutberry Currack - Hugh Seat - Archy Styrigg - High Seat - Hangingstone Scar - Hell Gill Beck - The High Way - Cotter End - Holme Heads Bridge - Hardraw
1. Looking south west towards Widdale Fell
2. Great Shunner Fell
3. Matt and I on the top of Great Shunner Fell
4. Knoutberry Currack looking towards Hugh Seat and High Seat
5. Lady's Pillar on Hugh Seat
6. Sat by the remains of the cairn on Archy Styrigg
7. High Seat from Archy Stryrigg
8. Hangingstone Scar
9. Three cairns overlooking the Mallerstang valley
10. Looking back up to High Seat and Mallerstang Edge
11. Looking across Cotterdale towards Great Shunner Fell
12. Cotter End
13. Hardraw Force
Walk Detail: By a strange twist of fate, not only was our Three Peaks walk on the same September weekend as the previous year but also our final prep walk together was on Mallerstang.
The Pennine Way to the top of Great Shunner Fell is a well graded path and it really is one of the easiest climbs to a major Dales summit. On the way we saw some good views of Lovely Seat and Lunds Fell but much of the Three Peaks and Wensleydale scene was lost in the haze. One distressing sight we encountered on the way up, and one which was to be repeated along much of the route back, was the sight of a rabbit dying, presumably from mixamatosis.
The summit of Great Shunner Fell really is a grand viewpoint and while the conditions were much better than my last visit the haze did restrict the number of photos I could take.
When a family party arrived at the summit we quickly made way for them and headed across to the saddle with Hugh Seat. It was longer than it looked and although Matt and I had been over much worse ground Jo found the conditions under foot quite difficult. For me the highlight of this section was spotting a Wheatear perched on Knoutberry Currack. Hugh Seat, Archy Styrigg and High Seat all looked like clearly defined tops from this angle and Hugh Seat in particular looked lovely with its covering of red tipped moor grass.
When we reached Archy Styrigg I was gutted to find that someone had committed an act of vandalism on the stone cairn and had in fact knocked Archy’s block off. Still we sat and ate our lunch here before heading up to High Seat and it numerous cairns, none of which seemed to mark the high point.
From High Seat there was a wonderful panoramic view including High Pike Hill and also the impressive Birkdale Tarn which had been in sight for the majority of the walk from the summit of Great Shunner Fell. The descent to the High Way gave us a chance to view the impressive scars that make up Mallerstang Edge, features we had seen little of on our trip up here in awful weather the previous year.
I had not been looking forward to the long stretch of the High Way and the first few miles over a hard track were quite tedious despite the nice views of Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell. After we passed High Dyke though the path turned into a lovely grassy way with patches of limestone breaking through. Cotter End was particularly delightful and had a great view of Wensleydale and the eastern side of Cotterdale. From the entrance to Cotterdale the route back to Hardraw was all along roads. Again it was hard on the feet but thankfully it didn’t last too long.
As we had finished in reasonably good time I suggested we take advantage of the beautiful evening to visit Hardraw Force. It is England’s highest single drop waterfall and it is certainly an impressive sight tucked away in its little cove. Afterwards we had a well-earned drink of pop in the Green Dragon before making our way home.