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North Pennines Walk
High Cup Nick from Cow Green Reservoir

Region - North Pennines

County/Area - Durham & Cumbria

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 12.8 miles / 20.8 km

Ascent - 600 feet / 182 metres

Time - 7 hours 0 minutes

Grade - moderate

Start - OS grid reference NY810309
Lat 54.672806 // Long -2.296139
Postcode DL12 0HX (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - High Cup Nick from Cow Green Reservoir
Click thumbnails for larger images.

The North Pennines offer some wonderful walking through often wild and windswept landscapes. This walk uses a lengthy section of the Pennine Way which makes route finding much easier yet it still retains the natural characteristics of the area. The route is, in effect, an out and back walk something I'm not usually in favour of but in this case I feel the choice is justified. The walk is not demanding with little ascent yet the length and remoteness does mean you should be well prepared and carry food and drink. If you have the benefit of two cars then the walk could be extended to the village of Dufton making it a one-way walk.

The start is the small car park above Cow Green Reservoir (grid ref. NY810309) where you immediately get a feeling of the wild country you are about to traverse. From the car park walk back up the road and take the first path on the right (grid ref. NY812307) heading roughly south east. Reaching a cross track, turn left and continue to a tarmac track. Turn right and follow this access road to the dam to join the Pennine Way. Drop down to cross the river bridge, keeping left at the junction just over the river and continue to Birkdale (grid ref. NY804278).

At grid ref. NY768267 you reach a bridge over Maize Beck. The westbound Pennine Way offers a choice of route from here, with a path on both the northern and southern sides of the Beck. For the purposes of this walk cross the Beck and follow the southern route of the Pennine Way. This will lead you without any further navigational problems to High Cup Nick. When approaching from this direction High Cup Nick is seen unfolding in a dramatic fashion and it is not until you have reached the crags at the edge of the glacial valley that you can fully appreciate this natural wonder.

Until this point you are unlikely to have seen many walkers but the "Nick" is a popular destination from the village of Dufton so you are unlikely to be able to enjoy the scenery in solitude. The return route follows the outward route. However a visit to Cauldron Snout close to the dame across the outlet to Cow Green Reservoir should not be missed. After crossing the bridge below the dam, turn right and follow the Pennine Way for a short distance. The wonderful waterfall of Cauldron Snout will soon be reached. After enjoying the spectacle, retrace your steps back to the dam, bear right along the access track and you will soon be back at the start.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers. Travel restrictions for exercise in Wales and Scotland will be lifted in early July.

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Walking in the North Pennines

Walking in the North PenninesThis guidebook describes 50 day walks across the North Pennines, England's remotest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty taking in parts of Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland. Most of the routes are circular and they range from 5 to 14 miles, with something to suit all abilities. Route descriptions are accompanied by 1:50K OS mapping.
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