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Hiking Great Shunner Fell: My First ‘Dales 30’


by Marcellina Huhn



Embarking on outdoor adventures has always been a passion of mine. There’s something incredibly exhilarating about immersing oneself in the beauty of nature, pushing physical limits, and witnessing awe-inspiring landscapes. Recently, I decided to take my love for adventure to a new level by participating in the Dales 30 Challenge.


The Dales 30 Challenge is a popular hiking initiative that involves conquering 30 peaks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a test of both physical endurance and mental resilience, while also showcasing the incredible natural wonders that this region has to offer.


For my first hike, I chose to tackle Great Shunner Fell, a majestic peak with an elevation of 716 meters (2,349 feet). Its prominent position in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales made it an ideal starting point for my Dales 30 journey.


Join me as I recount my experience of hiking Great Shunner Fell, from the initial planning to the jaw-dropping views at the summit and everything in between. I hope this account inspires you to embark on your own adventure and explore the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.


Background on the Dales 30 Challenge

The Dales 30 Challenge is a hiking endeavor that captures the essence of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It involves conquering 30 of the most iconic peaks in the region, testing the physical and mental stamina of participants while providing an opportunity to immerse oneself in the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.


Originating in 2016, the challenge was created to highlight the lesser-known peaks in the Yorkshire Dales, beyond the popular Three Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. By completing the Dales 30 Challenge, hikers gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse landscapes, rich history, and unique geology of the area.


The 30 peaks included in the challenge vary in difficulty and elevation, providing a well-rounded experience for hikers of all levels. From the gentle slopes of Buckden Pike to the dramatic cliffs of Great Whernside, each peak offers its own rewards and challenges.


Participants can choose to embark on the challenge at their own pace, completing the peaks in any order and timeframe that suits them. Some avid hikers aim to conquer all 30 peaks in a single season, while others spread their hikes throughout several years. The flexibility of the challenge allows individuals to tailor their experience to their fitness level and time constraints.


The Dales 30 Challenge not only promotes the physical and mental benefits of hiking but also encourages a deeper connection with nature. Participants have the opportunity to witness the ever-changing beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, from lush green valleys and cascading waterfalls to rugged limestone formations and sweeping panoramic views.


Moreover, the challenge is not just about personal achievement; it also serves as a means of supporting local communities and conservation efforts. By hiking these peaks, participants contribute to the sustainable upkeep of the trails and the preservation of the natural environment.


Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a new challenge or a nature enthusiast looking to explore the Yorkshire Dales, the Dales 30 Challenge offers a rewarding adventure filled with exploration, discovery, and a profound connection with the great outdoors.


Choosing Great Shunner Fell as my first hike

When it came time to select my first peak for the Dales 30 Challenge, the decision was not taken lightly. After much research and deliberation, I ultimately decided to start my journey with Great Shunner Fell. This majestic peak, towering over the surrounding countryside, captivated me with its allure and promise of breathtaking views.


One of the main reasons I chose Great Shunner Fell was its central location within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Situated near the village of Hawes, it offered a convenient starting point for my hiking adventure. Additionally, its accessibility from nearby towns and the availability of well-marked trails made it an ideal choice for a novice hiker like myself.


Another factor that drew me to Great Shunner Fell was its reputation for panoramic vistas. From the summit, hikers are treated to sweeping views of the surrounding dales, including Wensleydale and Swaledale. The thought of standing atop this majestic peak and taking in the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales from such a vantage point was enough to fill me with anticipation and excitement.


Additionally, Great Shunner Fell has an interesting place in local folklore and history. Legend has it that the fell got its name from an ancient Viking warrior who was left to die there after a battle. Standing at its summit, I felt a connection to the past and a reverence for the rich heritage of the area.


Furthermore, I was enticed by the challenge that Great Shunner Fell presented. With an elevation of 716 meters (2,349 feet), it required a moderate level of fitness and determination to reach the top. I saw it as an opportunity to test my physical limits and prove to myself that I was capable of conquering the Dales 30 Challenge.


Overall, choosing Great Shunner Fell as my first hike for the Dales 30 Challenge was a combination of practicality, stunning views, historical intrigue, and the desire for personal accomplishment. Little did I know at the time that this would be the beginning of an incredible journey through the Yorkshire Dales, filled with unforgettable experiences and a deep appreciation for the natural beauty that this region has to offer.


Planning and preparation

As with any outdoor adventure, proper planning and preparation are key to a successful and enjoyable hike. Before setting off to conquer Great Shunner Fell, I took the time to gather information, make necessary arrangements, and ensure I had all the essential gear.


The first step in my planning process was to research the trail and gather as much information as possible. I studied maps, read online guides, and consulted with fellow hikers who had previously tackled Great Shunner Fell. This allowed me to familiarize myself with the route, understand any potential challenges, and identify key landmarks along the way.


Next, I checked the weather forecast for the day of my hike. The weather in the Yorkshire Dales can be unpredictable, so it was important to be prepared for varying conditions. I packed layers of clothing, including a waterproof jacket, warm hat, and gloves, to ensure I was equipped for any changes in weather.


Additionally, I made sure to pack enough food and water to sustain me throughout the hike. Snacks such as energy bars, nuts, and dried fruit provided me with the necessary fuel to keep going, while a refillable water bottle ensured I stayed hydrated throughout the journey.


It was also crucial to have the right hiking gear. I wore comfortable and sturdy hiking boots that provided ankle support and good traction, as well as moisture-wicking socks to prevent blisters. I also carried a backpack with essentials such as a first aid kit, a compass, a map, a headlamp, and a whistle, in case of an emergency.


I made sure to inform someone of my hiking plans, including the route I would be taking and my estimated return time. This is an important safety precaution in case of any unforeseen circumstances or emergencies during the hike.


In terms of physical preparation, I engaged in regular exercise in the weeks leading up to the hike. This included cardio workouts, strength training, and hiking on local trails to build endurance and strength.


Lastly, I mentally prepared myself for the challenges that lay ahead. I visualized reaching the summit of Great Shunner Fell, imagined the breathtaking views that awaited me, and stayed positive throughout the entire planning process.


With all the necessary planning and preparation in place, I felt confident and excited to take on the challenge of hiking Great Shunner Fell. Little did I know that this adventure would not only test my physical capabilities but also provide me with memories that would last a lifetime.


The start of the hike

As the day of my hike on Great Shunner Fell finally arrived, I was filled with a mix of nerves and excitement. The early morning sunlight cast a golden glow over the rugged landscape of the Yorkshire Dales as I made my way to the starting point of the trail.


I parked my car at Hardraw, a charming village located near Hawes, where I would begin my ascent. The village, with its quaint stone houses and babbling brooks, set the perfect ambiance for the start of my adventure.


As I laced up my hiking boots and adjusted my backpack, I took a moment to soak in my surroundings. The air was crisp and filled with the scent of wildflowers, and the distant sound of sheep bleating added a touch of tranquility to the scene.


The initial part of the hike involved following a well-marked footpath that meandered through lush meadows and alongside babbling brooks. The gentle incline allowed me to warm up, both physically and mentally, as I settled into a steady pace.


I was not alone on this journey. Other hikers, each with their own aspirations and motivations, dotted the trail. Some exchanged friendly greetings while others preferred to immerse themselves in the serene ambiance of nature. It was a reminder that we were all connected by our love for the outdoors and shared desire to conquer the challenges that lay ahead.


The landscape gradually transformed as I ascended higher. Rolling hills gave way to craggy outcrops, and the distant peaks of Great Shunner Fell emerged on the horizon, beckoning me forward. The anticipation of reaching the summit grew with every step.


As the trail wound its way up the mountainside, I reveled in the beauty of my surroundings. Wildflowers adorned the hillsides, their vibrant colors adding a touch of whimsy to the rugged terrain. The melodic song of birds provided a soundtrack to my journey, creating a symphony of nature that reminded me of the incredible biodiversity of the Yorkshire Dales.


With each passing milestone, my excitement intensified. I could feel the challenge of Great Shunner Fell drawing nearer, and a mix of determination and awe flooded my senses. It was a reminder that this hike was not just about reaching the summit; it was about embracing the journey, immersing myself in the natural wonders of the Dales, and pushing my limits.


As I continued my ascent, the trail became steeper, and my breathing grew heavier. But with every challenging step, I felt a sense of accomplishment and a renewed sense of purpose. The start of the hike was just the beginning of an adventure that would test my physical and mental strength, and I was ready to embrace it wholeheartedly.


With my gaze fixed on the summit, I pressed forward, eager to see what lay beyond the next bend. Little did I know that the journey to the top of Great Shunner Fell would be filled with breathtaking views, unexpected surprises, and a sense of fulfillment that words could hardly capture.


Ascending Great Shunner Fell

As I continued my hike on Great Shunner Fell, the ascent became more challenging, both physically and mentally. The trail grew steeper, demanding increased effort and concentration. But with each step, I drew closer to the summit, driven by a mix of determination and anticipation.


The rugged, rocky terrain tested my balance and agility. I carefully negotiated my way across uneven surfaces and hopped from one boulder to another. The sound of my boots crunching on the gravel and the rhythmic beating of my heart echoed through the silence, heightening my focus on the task at hand.


Despite the physical exertion, the ascent was not without its rewards. As I gained elevation, the panoramic views began to unfold before me. The rolling hills and deep valleys of the Yorkshire Dales revealed themselves in all their splendor, a visual feast that served as a reminder of the natural beauty that surrounded me.


As I forged ahead, I noticed the change in vegetation. The lower slopes were adorned with colorful wildflowers, their fragile petals dancing in the gentle breeze. But as I climbed higher, the flora transformed into hardy grasses and low-lying shrubs, sculpted by the harsh winds that often swept across the fell.


Throughout the ascent, I encountered fellow hikers who, like me, were on their own journey to conquer Great Shunner Fell. Encouraging nods and exchanged words of motivation passed between us, creating a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. We were all united by the common goal of reaching the summit and experiencing the euphoria that awaited us there.


As I approached the final stretch of the ascent, my heart pounded with a mix of excitement and fatigue. The gradient seemed steeper, and my legs burned with the effort of pushing forward. But the summit was within reach, its presence beckoning me to overcome any obstacles that stood in my way.


With each determined stride, I finally reached the crest of Great Shunner Fell. The feeling of accomplishment washed over me as I stood there, taking in the breathtaking 360-degree views. The vastness of the Yorkshire Dales stretched out before me, a patchwork of green fields, meandering rivers, and distant peaks.


As I caught my breath, a sense of tranquility enveloped me. The silence of the summit, broken only by the occasional gusts of wind, allowed me to fully appreciate the magnitude of the natural beauty that surrounded me. I marveled at the power of nature, the sheer vastness of the landscape, and my own ability to conquer the challenges that came with ascending Great Shunner Fell.


The journey to the summit had not been easy, but every step, every grueling moment, was worth it for the sense of accomplishment and the awe-inspiring views that awaited me. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the remarkable experience that hiking Great Shunner Fell had to offer.


Enjoying the breathtaking views

Standing atop Great Shunner Fell, I was rewarded with a visual feast that surpassed all expectations. The panoramic views stretched as far as the eye could see, inviting me to immerse myself in the raw beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.


The landscape unfolded in all its grandeur, a tapestry of emerald green valleys, jagged limestone formations, and cascading waterfalls. The undulating hills and deep valleys painted a picture of serenity and tranquility, offering a respite from the chaos of everyday life.


The vastness of the views gave me a newfound perspective on the world. The open expanse made me feel both small and connected to something greater than myself. It reminded me of the power and resilience of nature, and the importance of preserving such treasures for future generations.


As I gazed out at the breathtaking vistas, I could spot the distant peaks of other mountains, their jagged silhouettes etched against the sky. It was a humbling reminder that there was always another adventure waiting, another peak to conquer and another view to be amazed by.


The changing play of light and shadows added a dynamic element to the experience. As the sun ducked behind the clouds, pockets of sunlight danced across the landscape, illuminating different areas with a golden glow. The interplay between sunlight and shadow created a dramatic and ever-changing scene, as if nature itself was performing a masterpiece just for me.


I savored my time at the summit, taking in every detail of the surrounding landscape. I allowed the beauty of the views to seep into my soul, rejuvenating and inspiring me. It was a moment of pure bliss and a reminder of the immense power of nature to uplift and awe.


It wasn’t just the distant vistas that captivated me; it was also the intricate details up close. The delicate wildflowers that clung to the mountain’s rocky crevices, the small creatures scurrying about their daily routines, and the wind whispering through the grasses – all these elements together created a symphony of sights, sounds, and sensations.


I took the time to capture the views through my camera lens, knowing that no photograph could truly capture the essence of what I was experiencing. But these images would serve as souvenirs, reminders of the stunning beauty that had unfolded before me and the memories that would forever be etched in my mind.


As I reluctantly prepared to descend from the summit, I carried with me a sense of gratitude and wonder. The breathtaking views from Great Shunner Fell had touched my soul and left an indelible mark on my heart. They reminded me of the power of adventure and the beauty that exists just beyond the beaten path.


With each step on the descent, I savored the memories of those awe-inspiring views, knowing that future adventures awaited, each offering their own unique vistas and experiences. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a remarkable journey through the Yorkshire Dales, filled with countless more breathtaking views and unforgettable moments.


Descending Great Shunner Fell

After thoroughly enjoying the breathtaking views from the summit of Great Shunner Fell, it was time to begin the descent. As I navigated my way down the mountain, a sense of satisfaction and nostalgia washed over me.


The descent offered a different perspective of the landscape. The downward journey allowed me to appreciate the vastness of the Yorkshire Dales in a new light. The rolling hills and picturesque valleys unfolded before me, revealing the intricate details and pristine beauty that I may have missed on the way up.


The process of descending required a different level of concentration and agility. I carefully placed each step, ensuring a solid footing on the rocky terrain. The descent was steep at times, but with each controlled movement, I felt a renewed sense of confidence and a growing appreciation for the physicality of hiking.


As I made my way down, I encountered other hikers who were just beginning their ascent. We exchanged brief conversations, sharing our experiences and exchanging tips. It was a reminder of the diverse community that hiking fosters, where kindred spirits come together to connect, support, and encourage one another on their individual journeys.


The changing scenery on the descent provided a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. I noticed the vibrant wildflowers that lined the trail, their petals swaying gently in the breeze. The chirping of birds accompanied me, their melodies creating a soothing soundtrack to accompany my footsteps.


Descending Great Shunner Fell allowed me to reflect on the magnitude of what I had accomplished. Every step down was a celebration of the strength and determination it took to conquer the challenges of the ascent. It was a physical and mental reminder of the resilience that lies within each of us.


The pace of the descent provided an opportunity to process the memories and emotions that had been stirred during the hike. I cherished the moments of solitude, allowing the stillness of nature to envelop me. It was a time of introspection and gratitude for the privilege of experiencing such natural wonders.


As the trail gradually leveled out, I knew that the end of my hike was nearing. However, the essence of Great Shunner Fell had imprinted itself on my soul, and I carried it with me even as I returned to the starting point.


Finally, as I reached the base of the mountain, I turned back one last time to bid farewell to Great Shunner Fell. I stood in silent reverence, appreciating the beauty that had unfolded before me and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to experience this remarkable adventure.


The descent from Great Shunner Fell was not just a physical journey; it was a reflection of personal growth, resilience, and the connection between the self and nature. It reinforced the transformative power of hiking and left me with a longing for more adventures in the breathtaking landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.


Reflections on completing my first Dales 30 hike

Completing my first Dales 30 hike on Great Shunner Fell was an experience that left me with a mix of emotions and a profound sense of accomplishment. As I reflect on the journey, I am reminded of the personal growth, the connection with nature, and the joy that comes from challenging oneself.


First and foremost, completing this hike instilled in me a sense of achievement. Standing at the summit of Great Shunner Fell, I felt a deep sense of pride and satisfaction. The physical and mental challenges I had faced on the ascent and the sheer determination to reach the top had paid off. It was a reminder that with commitment and perseverance, I could overcome any obstacle.


The journey also provided an opportunity for introspection and personal growth. Spending hours immersed in nature allowed me to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with my inner self. The solitude of the mountains provided a therapeutic space for reflection, self-discovery, and clarity of mind. It was a chance to gain a new perspective on life and appreciate the simplicity and beauty of the natural world.


Moreover, completing my first Dales 30 hike left me with a deeper appreciation for the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. The rugged beauty, the vast expanses, and the ever-changing vistas captured my heart. It was a reminder of the importance of preserving these natural treasures and the responsibility we have to be stewards of the environment.


The hike also strengthened my connection with the hiking community. Throughout the journey, I met fellow hikers who shared their stories, provided encouragement, and offered valuable advice. This sense of camaraderie and shared passion created a supportive and inclusive atmosphere that made the experience even more fulfilling.


Completing my first Dales 30 hike on Great Shunner Fell ignited a flame within me to continue exploring the Yorkshire Dales and conquer more peaks. It was the start of a personal journey of adventure, self-discovery, and connection with nature. The Dales 30 Challenge had opened up a world of possibilities and inspired a thirst for exploration.


Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunity to embark on this remarkable journey. The memories of the stunning vistas, the challenging ascents, and the sense of accomplishment will forever be etched in my mind. The completion of my first Dales 30 hike was not just a physical achievement; it was a testament to the power of the human spirit and the transformative nature of adventure.


I eagerly anticipate the next chapter of my Dales 30 Challenge, knowing that each peak will bring new experiences, new lessons, and new perspectives. With each hike, I will continue to push my limits, deepen my connection with nature, and nurture the sense of fulfillment that comes from embracing the unknown. The completion of my first Dales 30 hike was just the beginning of a lifelong journey filled with unforgettable moments and the joy of exploration.



Embarking on the Dales 30 Challenge and completing my first hike on Great Shunner Fell has been a transformative experience, filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, personal growth, and a deeper connection with nature. The journey to the summit tested my physical limits, but it also offered moments of reflection, gratitude, and a renewed sense of adventure.


The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a true gem, brimming with natural wonders that captivate the hearts of adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. The Dales 30 Challenge allowed me to immerse myself in this beautiful landscape, uncover hidden gems, and gain a deeper appreciation for the natural heritage of the region.


As I stood at the summit of Great Shunner Fell, witnessing the panoramic views that stretched before me, I felt a profound sense of accomplishment and a connection to something greater than myself. The journey was not just about conquering peaks; it was about embracing the journey, fostering personal growth, and finding solace and inspiration in the beauty of the outdoors.


Completing my first Dales 30 hike was a testament to the power of pushing beyond my comfort zone and embracing the unknown. It taught me that with determination, preparation, and a love for the natural world, incredible adventures are within reach.


The memories of the challenging ascents, the breathtaking views, the camaraderie with fellow hikers, and the moments of solitude will forever hold a special place in my heart. They remind me of the transformative power of hiking and the importance of preserving the natural wonders that surround us.


As I continue my journey through the Dales 30 Challenge, I eagerly anticipate the exploration of more peaks, each offering its own unique rewards and pushing me further along my path of personal growth and discovery.


The Dales 30 Challenge is not just about conquering mountains; it is an invitation to step outside of our comfort zones, connect with nature, and find solace and inspiration in the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. It is an opportunity to challenge ourselves, foster a deeper respect for the environment, and create lasting memories.


So I invite you to join me on this incredible adventure, to conquer mountains, to embrace the unknown, and to connect with nature in ways that will leave lasting impressions on our souls. Together, let us embark on the Dales 30 Challenge, one peak at a time, and let the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales inspire us to seek new heights in both our personal journeys and in our love for the great outdoors.