Ramblin’ Rosie: High Cup Nick

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Today we eschewed the delights of the Lake District (just as well, given how murky it looked over there) and headed for the North Pennines and the charming village of Dufton, deep in the Westmorland sheep country.

Dufton Green

Dufton is a traditional staging post on the Pennine Way. Traditionally, travellers from south to north arrive in Dufton after one of the most gruelling stages, from Swaledale. Many walkers break the journey at Middleton-in-Teesdale so will have come from there, so making it quite an easy stage, which is just as well as the next day takes them over succession of high points culminating in Cross Fell, the highest ground in England outside the Lake District. In the photo, Cross Fell is the snow-capped ridge to the left of the tree. At the far right of the picture, especially if you see it full size, is Great Dun Fell capped by its Air Traffic Control radar station. We’re not going that way. We will be following the southbound Pennine Way towards Teesdale for a way before turning back to return to Dufton.

The Pennines are qualitatively quite different from the Lake District. There are no real peaks; even Cross Fell is a big windy plateau. A Pennine summit is generally a patch of bog slightly more elevated than the patches of bog surrounding it. So there is no straight climb to a summit, but a succession of long slogs in which every time you thing you are near the top another higher rigde appears. Even the sheep are different; here the Swaledale with its grizzled muzzle and curly horns rules and Herdwicks are few and far between. And the weather, when it has a mind to be, is vile. In particular, when there’s a strong easterly like those that have scoured much of Britain for the last few days, there is nothing whatever up there to stop it. So, when we reached our objective, the striking geological feature called High Cup Nick…

High Cup Nick

… we didn’t hang about because it was bitter and there was a real possibility of being blown off. So there’s not many photos, I’m afraid. Feel free to click on these to see what there is.