logo Walking Britain
Home About Holidays FAQ Email MENU ☰

High Cup Nick from Dufton

North Pennines Walk

Region - North Pennines

County/Area - Cumbria - North Pennines

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 10.5 miles / 17.1 km    Ascent - 1400 feet / 424 metres

Time - 6 hours 40 minutes    Grade - moderate

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Explorer OL19Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL19Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 91Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 91Digital Map1:50kBUY

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - High Cup Nick
Click image to visit gallery of 12 images.

This is a "five star" route that includes interesting geology, wild moorland and fantastic views all contained in a few square miles of the North Pennines. One word of warning is that the section from Great Runsdale Tarn to the bridge on the Pennine Way over Maize Beck could be very wet underfoot after rain with an added risk of flash floods. Care is therefore needed. Despite this warning, crossing this desolate moorland is easy from a navigational point of view provided you do not stray from the beck.

The start is the attractive village of Dufton (Grid ref. NY689249) a few miles north along a minor road from the A66 at Appleby-in-Westmoreland. There is a small car park, a pub, village store and tearoom together with public toilets. Exit the car park and walk back towards Appleby (south) following the road around to the left. Where the lane turns right walk straight ahead along a lane. Keep to the right where the track divides (Grid ref. NY 691 252) and with improving views ahead climb steadily with conically shaped Dufton Pike to your left.

Having reached a col due east of Dufton Pike the track descends slightly before entering a deep steep sided valley where evidence of former mine working can be seen. The track continues to climb but never steeply into the narrowing valley. Stay on the track past a section that has seen recent reconstruction towards a shooting cabin. From here the northern shore of Great Runsdale Tarn is just over a hundred metres south.

Turn left along the shore and locate the outflow. This is Maize Beck and needs to be followed downstream for approximately 2.5 km. There is a path of sorts and it will probably be fairly damp underfoot so be prepared for some "bog trotting". The view ahead across some of the wildest moors in England is dominated by the whaleback of Mickle Fell.

Reaching a footbridge over Maize Beck means that you have reached the Pennine Way. Turn right (southwest) to follow this National Trail, which is marked by posts, across a limestone pavement to reach spectacular High Cup Nick. This is where the Whin Sill, which is formed of blue-grey dolerite, has provided extra resistance to glaciers and formed one of the most spectacular natural features in the UK.

After spending some time taking in the view, which on my last visit included every peak in Lakeland, follow the wide path along the northern rim. This is again the Pennine Way and is followed all the way back to Dufton. On reaching the road through the village, turn right and follow it back to the start.

Other walks nearby

Walk 1715 Dufton Pike & Duftoneasy5.0 miles
Walk 1784 Rutter Force & Hoff Beckeasy/mod8.0 miles
Walk 3071 Cross Fell & Great Dun Fell from Kirklandmod/hard12.0 miles
Walk 3274 Cronkley Scar & Cauldron Snoutmoderate8.0 miles
Walk 1683 High Cup Nick & Cow Green Reservoir moderate12.8 miles
Walk 3336 Cauldron Snouteasy3.6 miles
Walk 3593 Meldon Hill from Cow Green Reservoirmoderate9.2 miles
Walk 2453 Askham Fell from Lowther Castleeasy/mod7.4 miles
Walk 3758 Tynehead and Ashgill Force from near Garrigilleasy/mod8.2 miles
Walk 1084 Garrigill, Alston & Nentheadmoderate13.1 miles

Recommended Books & eBooks

Walking the Lake District Fells - Patterdale

Walking the Lake District Fells - PatterdalePart of the Walking the Lake District Fells series, this guidebook covers a wide range of routes to 35 Lakeland summits that can be climbed from Ambleside, Grasmere and Patterdale and the Thirlmere and Ullswater valleys, with highlights including Helvellyn and Fairfield. Suggestions for longer ridge routes are also included.
More information

The Pennine Way - the Path, the People, the Journey

The Pennine Way - the Path, the People, the JourneyA portrait of the The Pennine Way, Britain's oldest and best known long-distance footpath, stretching 268 miles from the Peak District to the Scottish Borders. This personal, thoughtful and often humorous story of the path's remarkable history, includes the experiences of walkers and local characters on this exhilarating and complex path.
More information

Messaging & Social Media

Message Walking Britain and follow the latest news.

Facebook  Twitter

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.