Day 8 of the Pennine Way takes us 17 miles from Hawes to Tan Hill. Highlights of stage 8 include Hardraw Force, Great Shunner Fell, Swaledale, East Gill Force and Tan Hill. Fun facts about today are that Great Shunner Fell is the third highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales and Tan Hill is the highest pub in England.
The Pennine Way leaves Hawes by crossing the River Ure before entering a hamlet called Hardraw. Hardraw is home to England’s largest single drop waterfall known as Hardraw Force. There is a small entry fee to see it but it’s well worth taking a few minutes off your walk to view it. Lastly, movie buffs may recognise this waterfall from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) famously bathed in the water beneath the waterfall.
Great Shunner Fell Ascent
After a relaxing start, the Pennine Way Stage 8 has a serious climb ahead. To be more precise, an ascent of the third highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales, Great Shunner Fell. Although, the peak is quite high, it’s a long steady climb to the summit. A flagstone path makes it impossible to get lost even in bad weather.
Great Shunner Fell Peak
Great Shunner Fell is 716 meters tall. As a result, it’s the third tallest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales after Whernside and Ingleborough. Both of which we saw clearly from the Pennine Way Stage 6 in Pen-y-ghent. At the summit you’ll find a sheltered area to sit down, enjoy a snack and perhaps appreciate some clear views.
After the long descent from Great Shunner Fell you’ll enter a hamlet called Thwaite in Swaledale. Thwaite is home to a friendly pub and even a hotel. In addition, there’s a farm and the immediate surroundings are of course, farmland. After passing through Thwaite the Pennine Way heads through farmland and around the side of Kisdon Hill.
As you follow the Pennine Way around Kisdon Hill you’re rewarded with stunning views of Swaledale. As a matter of fact, when I walked this section, I didn’t see another soul. There are no roads, it was so peaceful. Perhaps this is a good place to sit down and enjoy a snack?
Rabbits at Swaledale
I didn’t see any other ramblers on this section of the Pennine Way. However, I did see hundreds of rabbits. Some of these rabbits, were enjoying the views as much as I was!
Spectacular Swaledale Views
As you get closer to Keld, the views become more spectacular. As I looked at this particular view, I wondered if there are peregrine falcons here like the one I saw at Malham Cove? It would certainly be more peaceful for them here.
Lapwings have been a common sight along the Pennine Way and Stage 8 is no exception.
East Gill Force / Keld
Keld is a popular town to end day 8 of the Pennine Way. Why? Because Keld is a beautiful area with a couple of hotels and campsites. In fact, I even saw wild campers on the way into Keld. If you do stay in Keld it will add around 5 miles to tomorrows walk but you’ll be able to view several waterfalls here and it’s much cheaper than Tan Hill. However, I’m heading to Tan Hill for the night.
As you walk through moorland between Keld and Tan Hill you’ll see lots of tow-story barns. I’d imagine at dusk and dawn barn owls are prevalent here.
Kestrels and Barn Owls
Although I was hopeful of seeing a barn owl, it was kestrels which were out in force. If you see a big bird hovering in the sky it’s likely to be a kestrel.
Friendly meadow pipits will accompany you across the moorland to Tan Hill. More likely, they are distracting you from their nests but they do fly pretty close.
Tan Hill Inn is known to be Great Britain’s highest inn at 1732 feet. The Pennine Way runs right up to the entrance which marks the end of Stage 8. You can stay at Tan Hill Inn in a private room, bunk room or camp outside. More importantly, you can eat a pub meal after walking here from Hawes.
Pub Meal at Tan Hill
After my 17 mile walk from Hawes I decided on fish and chips with an ice cold pint of Coca Cola. The meal was complemented by a beautiful sunset.
Where to Stay at Tan Hill
As I mentioned earlier, there is only one place to stay at Tan Hill which is Tan Hill Inn. I camped in the designated camping area outside the building and was ready for an early start to Middleton is Teesdale tomorrow.