Great Shunner Fell
It`s great when the weather is good, to be out striding the high moors of Yorkshire, the sense of space and openness, combined with the physical exercise gives a sense of wellbeing that cannot be matched. I always think the best weather is to be out when a high pressure is over Ireland and to the west, that way the anti-cyclonic winds bring a northerly airstream of polar winds, so pure and clean you know your lungs are just going to be filled with magic!
So it was for the programmed walk on 7th October when Great Shunner Fell and Lovely Seat was the objective. Four of us met in the Muker car park, Allison, Sharman, Len and myself and like good citizens paid the high car parking fee, even though free parking is available in the village! We went through the days walk, with key information being given by myself as walk leader-the place for a coffee stop, lunch and finally which pub we would visit at the end of the day!
We followed well signposted field paths through to Thwaite and after less than an hour stopped at the Kearton Hotel for morning coffee, this was a moderate walk after all and was appreciated by all as delicious cappuccino and biscuits were served. Thwaite has recently been the base for a film unit making Wuthering Heights using a house near the Pennine Way as the fictitious Heights. Extras have been recruited locally and Len and myself argued who would make the best Heathcliffe!
From Thwaite the Pennine Way was followed all the way to the summit of Great Shunner Fell, initially by farm track, but then by laid stone flags forming a gentle and easy way to the summit. The flags were laid over a decade ago now to prevent erosion of the peat hags. They have substantially reduced damage and in popular walking areas I am generally in favour of this footpath work. From the summit at 2,340`the views were extensive including to the north to Cross Fell and south to the Three Peaks, just the place to have a leisurely lunch sitting at the cross wall shelter similar to Helvelyn.
From Shunner Fell no distinct path occurs and a series of tracks and quad bike trails is followed down to the Buttertubs Road, before heading back uphill to Lovely Seat, the second high point of the day. Lovely Seat is much quieter than Shunner Fell and views to the south probably better, again calling for an afternoon tea break. The way ahead now crossed peat hags along the Swaledale watershed before dropping down to intake fields high above Swaledale. The last few miles are along a `Green Road` back to Muker with fantastic views of the village and dale. The late afternoon sun made the stone walls even more photogenic and cameras came out to capture the views.
The day was too good to end and so we decided to go for a pint in the Farmers Arms in Muker, the Theakstons Best Bitter being as good as ever and allowed us to do the obligatory review of the day - 11 miles, two major Pennine summits ,excellent views and nice stops for coffee and beer. But the best thing about the day was the quality of the air, just magic!