High Cup Nick

A day walk in the North Pennines. Lucky (again) to be invited to accompany Paul Besley (guidebook author and mountain rescue search dog handler), and his canine sidekick Scout. Paul was researching a walk for Trail magazine and i was to be his ‘model’ ! An early o’ clock departure saw the 3 of us heading further away from home than we had in a very long time.

As a kid growing up in the North East i had, from the age of 17, managed to sneak westwards to the Lake District whenever we could afford the fuel for my mates Mini Metro. We would always stop at the greasy spoon cafe at Scotch Corner for a big breakfast roll and a tea. It was like passport control’ leaving the smog of Teesside behind and seeing the expanse of the Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and Lake District open up before us. It was a trip down memory lane to queue at the cafe and get the breakfast rations in.

‘passport control’

Onwards then to the beautiful little village of Dufton. Immaculately tidy, great facilities, and a wealth of information for the visitor. We parked in the village centre (the villagers have taken over ownership of the toilets and car park (Eden Borough Council were going to close them) so please do give generously in the honest box.

And then we were off windong through the woodland and farmland en route to the ‘open end’ of High Cup Nick. The landscape was rich with flora and fauna, and barns that we’d quite happily convert and live in.

free range
‘has potential’

I can’t have been in High Cup Gill for at least 20 possibly 30 years. I know i went there whilst doing A level geography. The Gill is rightly regarded as an excellent example of a ‘U’ shaped glacial valley. A path winds its way slowly up the valley and the steep head wall gets closer.

High Cup Gill
the home team
the away team

It was getting colder now. Flurries of snow fell, and the 10 minutes of hard effort up the headwall passed. The view from the Nick, especially with snow and rain falling in the distance ranks as one of the best landscape views in England. In warmer weather it really would be one to sit and savour.

High Cup Gill

Onwards then to Maizebeck Scar, another (albeit much smaller) interesting feature.

Maizebeck Scar
guess the flower ?

…. and onwards along the beck and then a 4×4 track to Great Rundale Tarn where Scout showed off his ability to run on water …


We then passed the (sadly locked) Shooting Cabin, and began the descent down Threlkeld Side and Pus Gill towards Dufton. Notwithstanding the history of lime kilning and mining in the upper reaches of the Gill, the 4×4 track to service the shooting community is an absolute eyesore.

lime kiln
Lake District horizon

And so back to the village. We only saw six people all day, and four of them were in the distance. Having been warmish and moving all day the next 1 hour waiting for the kitchen to open (whilst drinking pints of hot tea) whilst wearing warm jacket + hat + gloves, and then 1 hr and 10 minutes spent waiting for the food to arrive (sat in a marquee in a field in the North Pennines on a windy damp day at about 3 centigrade) was, shall we say, ‘character building’.

Paul and his two hour stare …

Grateful for the banter with good company on a grand day on the hill.

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