My partner and I were heading off to the lake district for the New Year and also trying to find time for a walk with some friends which we were all determined to fit in some how. After a bit of head scratching and perusing of maps we settled on High Cup Nick in the North Pennines. It’s en route to the lake district so we could keep on heading west and our friends could head back east.
A couple of text messages and we convened in the village of Dufton. Given the recent decidedly soggy weather the fact that the pennine way runs through the village and leads directly out to High Cup Nick is a distinct advantage, at least for the first half of the walk. You can’t actually see the nick from the village and it’s a bit of the pull up the hill before you get the view around the corner. It’s worth the wait though.
The standard route sticks to the top of the escarpment until you get to the farthest point of the nick. At this point you can either continue around the far side or drop down through the middle to head back. The days are short at this time of year and we didn’t have a lot of time in the first place so we decided to improvise a route down the hill side. It’s steep and it was a bit slick under foot after all rain lately but passable with care. I should imagine it’s child’s play in summer. The stream in the bottom took a bit of crossing including one flying leap for those with short legs but everyone made it intact.
The thing about walking through a narrow, steep sided valley is that all that rain which runs off the hills has to go somewhere. In this case it found it’s way to the bottom of the hill and discovered that there was nowhere else to go. Everywhere I’ve walked over the last few weeks has been absolutely sodden. It appears that the whole of the North of England is just saturated. With the water table at roughly ankle height there was nothing for it put to plodge our way out. Oddly enough no one really seemed to mind. Hill walkers are a peculiar bunch at times. At least there were plenty of excuses to stop and admire the view behind. We were even blessed with enough sunlight to make shadows at some point. I’m second from the left holding the camera.
It was enough to make us squint anyway. Not the most flattering photo, although I say that about every photo of me, but I’m the lanky one on the left.
From this point it was a steady wade out of the valley and then a wander back along the minor road that runs from Murton to Dufton. Having travelled many miles and braved high wind and high water the worst aspect of winter walking was still ahead of us. The pub was closed!