Sunday, 28 April 2013

Great Whernside, Wharfedale

Somehow the middle of March 2013 offered that rarest of occasions -  a free day! When I checked my diary and realised Claire and I had a weekend without appointments, so after a quick chat with our fellow walker Dave we decided to meet up at Kettlewell for an exploration of some of the fells of the Dales. The original plan was to take in both Great Whernside and Buckden Pike, but the weather had other plans for us.

There are a number of ways Great Whernside can be tackled from Kettlewell, and the route we picked seemed pretty straightforward and direct.

We started off heading out of the village along the pretty lanes before taking the footpath heading towards the interestingly named Hag Dyke. This was pleasant walking territory and we gained in height pretty quickly. We got a little bit confused at the scout hut which is situated at Hag Dyke, about halfway up Great Whernside, but soon found our way back onto the path.

Shortly afterwards and we found ourselves walking in the white stuff, and it was only a few minutes until we were knee deep in snow at times!

The deep snow made the walk considerably harder, but we pressed on upwards, soon reaching a collection of cairns. From here onwards we encountered a whiteout and wouldn't really see anything beyond the white ground and sky until well off the summit of Great Whernside.

Fortunately we were well equipped with map, GPS and the compass which kept us headed in the right direction, and shortly afterwards we reached the trig point that marks the top of Great Whernside. At this point the snow was also coming down and so we didn't hang around for long, as when we stopped for even just a couple of minutes the cold really got to us. We stayed on the summit plateau for a short while mainly guided by compass as there was no way of discerning the path on the ground!

Conditions improved slightly after we had passed through the summit crags and we could see a slight depression in the ground which looked like it was where the path should be and fortunately we were right. A short while on, and we came to some very steep slopes.

It was far too slippery to attempt to walk down them and so we had to just sit down and slide all the way down. It was great being a kid again and we've never come off a fell quite as quick as this!

Now that we were off the higher ground the visibility improved, but by this point we had got fairly chilled, and the prospect of going through that all over again wasn't all that appealing and so we decided to head back to Kettlewell and save Buckden Pike for another day.

We crossed the little road from Kettlewell to Coverdale, and took the path back to the village, following Tor Dyke and the Top Mere Road. This was a really nice path that made for pleasant walking, and as the skies cleared we had great views back over to Great Whernside and down onto the picturesque village of Kettlewell.

All in all a great day out and good preparation for the next big Dales walk, which I'll be telling you about very soon!

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