High Cup Nick in Spring..ish


We arrived in the lovely village of Dufton for a mid week walk up to High Cup Nick. It was Debbie’s first mountain outing in the terrain hopper of the year. We roped in Andy (being her husband we could not really leave her behind), Jane, Lesley and a stray man named Dave and his trusty spaniel called Hal. The weather was warm and clear; our only initial issue being the Stag Inn was closed (as it was on our return) so any chance of a caffeine shot or some other liqueur remained out of reach. The landlord did appear however to wish us well…not useful.

Above Dufton

Above Dufton

High Cup Nick is a geographical masterpiece but being hidden away in the Pennines near Appleby it is not a popular day walk. Stick this perfect U shaped glacial valley in the centre of the Lakes or nearby Dales and Dufton would soon become a magnet for visitors. However the route from the head of ‘the Nick’ to Dufton is well used. It is part of the Pennine Way and many have staggered down the path towards Dufton as part of this long and remote long distance trail.

Overlooking High Cup Nick

Overlooking High Cup Nick

The bridleway up to High Cup Nick is 3.5 miles and in excellent condition. It does not have any steep sections and the views improve with every step. Lesley, as is her want I found (it was the first time I had walked with her), strode on miles ahead in order to avoid talking with anyone, my disloyal collie Mist at her side. The rest of us staggered on behind, enjoying the new lambs and the company of ‘Patch’.  Patch is a farmers dog (we assumed) who had taken it upon herself to follow us all the way to the Nick…and then back again. To this day we have no idea where he came from. The only other incident of note was when the Debbie failed to negotiate a steep patch of snow in the hopper, much mirth and no help from her companions.

Head wall of the Nick

Head wall of the Nick

Eventually the rag tag party made it up to the rim of High Cup Nick. This is a wonderful spot well worth a visit whether you are a budding geographer or not. I have seen parties of school children up here; inspiring I hope for the children and a credit to their teachers. Near the rim we tucked in to some sandwiches and considered what to do next. The decision making process was not helped by our new friend Patch disgracing himself by weeing on Jane’s leg.

Overlooking High Cup Nick

Overlooking High Cup Nick

We had considered carrying on round the rim and complete the day with a climb of Merton Fell (one of the 3 pointy sisters that flank this part of the Pennines). However I had never walked that side, preferring instead the steep descent to the valley floor. Therefore I was a little unsure if it was Hopper friendly so decided to leave this grand circular to another day. Despite the group agreeing on the return Jane broke ranks (she demands trig points on her walks) and her and Lesley (who had carried on anyway) set off to explore the southern flanks. Disappointingly they failed even to locate the bridlepath and headed along a footpath which was never going to be suitable. We last saw them struggling up a snowfield in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I should return Jane’s money from the clearly unsuccessful Navigation course she joined me on!

Mist over High Cup Gill

Mist over High Cup Gill

The rest of the party headed back down the track to Dufton in an incident free descent. However the arrival in to Dufton was livened up by a lady who had taken to enjoying the reasonable spring day by cleaning the cattle grid that led in to her property. Now I have never seen anyone do this before but then she was not alone in her eccentricity. We all thoroughly enjoyed the man in his potting shed working on the same pot as when we left, the lady who appeared to be taking her wheel barrow for a walk and of course Patch the ownerless collie. Dufton is a fine place.

A not very swift drive to Merton to pick up a grumpy Lesley and Jane. Their humour not helped by me pointing out they took the wrong route. We locked them in the back of the van and took the short drive to the New Inn at Brampton where new managers are making an excellent job in creating a great pub for the area.

Stag Inn, Dufton

Stag Inn, Dufton (not the New Inn at Brampton!)

This really is an excellent and very straightforward walk for any party, if you would like to find out more details refer to my previous walk up High Cup Nick which has  a map and some route details.

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