Snowy Adventure from Hawes 6 December 2020
Snowy Adventure from Hawes
Ron and I had arranged this walk from Hawes as the final day of a short break there in our motorhome along with fellow members, Dave and Carol Wilkinson in theirs. When we arrived in Hawes on Thursday afternoon the hilltops already had a good covering of snow. Then we had a wet day on Friday (ideal for Christmas shopping and turkey lunch in the Wensleydale Pantry), followed by a sunny day on Saturday (ideal for a shortened version of Sunday’s walk), so we were a little anxious when we woke up to a very grey sky on Sunday. We needn’t have worried because, although the clouds remained low and dark, we were spared any heavy precipitation and the air was generally very still and calm, even higher up.
The walk was well attended with 2 groups setting off from the National Park car park at a half hour interval. Ron and I were joined by Brian, Ann L, Caroline and Sharon and Dave and Carol led the second group of Bob B, Ann W, Jenny and Mark. We started off across the fields that lie between Hawes and Hardraw. About a month ago this area was under water and the power of the water can be seen in the large number of stones from the walls that have been scattered several hundred metres into the fields! The fields were still a bit soggy as we climbed up to Sedbusk where we joined Shutt Lane track up towards Stags Fell. We reached the snow just before the top and stopped for coffee with a view back towards Hawes.
We joined the track along North Rakes Hill and the snow was quite deep here. The cloud was low but visibility was not bad as there were tyre marks along the track. It was at the point where the bridleway leaves the track that the fun started as, despite the well spread out waymarkers, there were no footprints to guide us and the snow had drifted in places making it quite deep. Ron and I had walked the route only two weeks previously but it’s amazing how a path can disappear under a covering of snow! We used a combination of Ron scouting ahead and me checking the OS map app on my phone to regain the path. We hadn’t actually wandered very far from it. Sharon excitedly gathered up snow and made a little snowman. Once we had crossed Shivery Gill we soon dropped down to the blacktop of the Buttertubs road and had our lunch stop just below the cattle grid, again with views towards Hawes.
Dave and Carol’s group arrived just 10 minutes after us, having (sensibly) taken the shorter route down the track back to the road rather than the snowy bridlepath. We left them to their lunch and continued down the fields and dropped down into Shaw Gill Wood along Hardraw Beck, before it plunges over the edge. We were lucky enough to spot a red squirrel going about its business amongst the trees just before we crossed the bridge back towards the road at Simonstone. Then we descended along the flagged paths across the fields to Hardraw and back across more soggy fields to the start point.
The second group finished off the day with coffee and cake at the Chapel Gallery in Hawes. We had discovered this little gem the day before when we found out that it is run by SOC member Ellie Bates, a canoeist, and her husband. We can report that she serves excellent coffee and locally baked cakes.