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High Cup Nick looking down High Cup Gill
High Cup Nick looking down High Cup Gill

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Route No. 179 - Thursday 4 May 2006
Dufton, High Cup Nick, High Cup Gill
Keisley, Bow Hall circuit - 15km
North Pennines . . .

Around 400m climbing on Pennine Way track
Map: OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells & Upper Eden Valley at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service


Dufton Pike to our north as we left Dufton village
Dufton Pike to our north as we left Dufton village

We set off along the village street to map ref. NY 693248 and turned on to the lane to Bow Hall farm and High Cup Nick following the route of the Pennine Way

This morning we drove to Dufton near Appleby and parked in the little car park by the public toilets at map ref. NY 689250.

Heading out from Dufton along the lane to Bow Hall
Heading out from Dufton along the lane to Bow Hall

The foothills south of the Pennine Way as we began the climb up to High Cup Nick
The foothills south of the Pennine Way as we began the climb up to High Cup Nick
The Pennine Way track as we approached High Cup Nick
The Pennine Way track as we approached High Cup Nick
It is a long steady climb of about 6km to High Cup Nick at the head of High Cup Gill. The weather was poor as we started the climb with squally showers and low cloud but even so the views down into High cup Gill were amazing. The valley is a huge feature, 'U'-shaped in both plan and cross section surrounded by high cliffs and rocky pinnacles.
Our first view down into High Cup Gill
Our first view down into High Cup Gill
Walking round the edge of High Cup Nick on the Pennine Way
Walking round the edge of High Cup Nick on the Pennine Way
Rock formations in the cliffs around High Cup Gill
Rock formations in the cliffs around High Cup Gill
Rock formations in the cliffs around High Cup Gill
Rock formations in the cliffs around High Cup Gill
It was quite windy and we sat a couple of metres below the rim of High Cup Nick on a ledge about 2m wide to be out of the wind for our break. The view was awsome - the camera just cannot do justice to it. After a few minutes the sheer drop of a couple of hundred metres below us made us both feel rather uneasy so we continued down the precipitous decent - it is a recognised path but does need care to descend. Once at the bottom og the gill where the stream bubbles up from a series of springs, we sat down to finish our lunch. By now the weather had cheered up and the sun was out with lots of blue sky, in fact a very pleasant day indeed.
The descent into High Cup Gill
The descent into High Cup Gill
Looking back to High Cup Nick from the bottom of High Cup Gill
Looking back to High Cup Nick from the bottom of High Cup Gill

We continued following the path down High Cup Gill, but the path is a bit odd. On the OS Explorer OL19 the public footpath is shown about 60m from the stream, crossing a wall that runs at right angles to the valley (map ref. NY 739254). I did not find any stile in the wall at that position (mind you I often look for things at home only to declare them lost whereupon my wife goes to the place I first looked and returns with the required object) Anyway there was a stone step stile in the wall parallel to the stream at map ref. NY 738253 with a yellow way marker and a well defined path. In one way none of this matter since all you do is follow a well worn path down the valley, but the actual path is lower down the valley side. Lower down the valley it's easy to follow the wrong quad bike track. We kept to a footpath that climbs up to Map ref. NY 727238 below the cliffs of Middle Tongue from around map ref. NY 728243, a climb of about 30m.

Looking back to Middle Tongue as we walked down to the farm at Harbour Flatt
Looking back to Middle Tongue as we walked down to the farm at Harbour Flatt

Looking across to the foothills as we approached harbour Flatt farm
Looking across to the foothills as we approached Harbour Flatt farm
Looking across to the foothills as we approached harbour Flatt farm
Looking across to the foothills as we approached Harbour Flatt farm
Looking back to High Cup Nick in the distance as we approached Harbour Flatt farm
Looking back to High Cup Nick in the distance as we approached Harbour Flatt farm
A big old oak tree - I just love big trees!
A big old oak tree - I just love big trees!

From Harbour Flatt farm we took the path across the pasture to the road at map ref. NY 717234. From here we followed the road round to Keisley. The bank by the road was full of spring flowers and by our turning to Keisley at map ref. NY 707238 was a blackthorn bush in full flower.

Blackthorn with it's show of white blossom before any of its leaves appear.
Blackthorn with it's show of white blossom before any of its leaves appear

A few bluebells with the last of the primroses and celandines wild strawberries wood anemonies
A few bluebells with the last of the primroses and celandines, and wild strawberries and wood anemonies all in the same bank beside the road
Heading back to Bow Hall with Dufton Pike in the background
Heading back to Bow Hall with Dufton Pike in the background
We walked up the lane and followed the footpath signs at the top that directed us across the fields back to the lane at map ref. NY 704250 near Bow Hall farm. At the lane we turned left to retrace our steps back to Dufton. The whole route had been about 15km and had taken us around 5 hours to walk including our stops. We drove into Appleby where there was traffic chaos due to some paving and landscaping work in the town centre, which should look very nice when it's all finished. We managed to find a parking spot and a tea shop for our traditional cup of coffee and a toasted tea cake before returning to the pub for anothe relaxing evening ready for our final walk in the Howgill Fells tomorrow.