High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria - fun in the snow!

High Cup Nick Walk, Cumbria, Dufton, Snow, View, Photo,  lake District
Admiring the amazing view from High Cup Nick, Cumbria - midway on our circular walk from Dufton. You can clearly see an impressive example of a glacial valley, which was carved out of ancient ice.

High Cup Nick from Dufton, via the Pennine Way and descending via High Cup Gill


This walk to High Cup Nick, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is an excellent walk, which is often by-passed by the those en route to the loftier fells in the Lake District. It's worth putting on any walkers list though as the ancient glacial valley is a spectacular sight, and it's a challenging but fun descent from the Nick into the Valley.

The Walking Route:


Date: Saturday 16th Jan 2016
Distance: 8 miles (12.9km) 
Time: 4 hours ish (with 15min stop at the "bow" at High Cup Nick where the Gill drops into the valley)
Total climb: 1,314.76 ft (400m)
Difficulty: Medium-Hard (There are no steep climbs, and the walk is fairly gentle, however, the only hard section really is the initial descent/drop down from High Cup Nick 
into the Gill. If care is taken then it should be fairly straightforward to experienced walkers :-)


High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria map
The route to High Cup Nick, from Dufton, via a section of the Pennine Way and descending via High Cup Gill, which is around 8miles in total. [ Click image to enlarge - you can view my route online and download it here http://outdoorsgps.com/route/show/402466 - although you will have to create an account to see the full OS map]

As you can see the distance is 8 miles, reaching a Total climb of: 1,314.76 ft

I'd been itching to get out on a decent walk since xmas - but I'm no fan of walking in the rain and poor visibility - so when I seen the snow arrive up north at the back end of last week I just had to get out. I'd been wanting to visit High Cup Nick in Cumbria for a while - and I thought that place would look pretty impressive with a coating of snow - so we headed up there on Sat. Fortunately in the morning the weather was decent - good visibility - a bit of blue in the sky and no wind - although a bit chilly!

We parked in the village of Dufton on the side of the road as close to the start point as possible. Many walkers to this area park at the village pub (Stag Inn) - and finish with a nice pint - but we were pushed for time/daylight! I'm not sure if there is paid parking in Dufton, but you should be able to find a space along the road somewhere.

Photos of the Route:


High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
The initial part of the walk is a gentle walk uphill along the clearly marked Pennine Way. You can just see Bow Hall in this pic - the skies are a little grey - even though the forecast said there would be bursts of sunshine. There is no wind whatsoever - and it's about -3ÂșC - so fresh!

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
We follow the Pennine Way all the way to the top of High Cup Nick to just stick to the path and you can't go wrong!

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Looking back down the Pennine Way - blue skies! Due to the gentle walk uphill - I start to warm up a lot and have to remove a layer!

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
As soon as we hit the snow line it's snow everywhere, and some deep drifts in places.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Getting ever closer to seeing the expansive view of High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Pretty impressive view eh? High Cup Nick is in the distance and there is not much uphill walking left now.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
We reach Hannah's Well and the 3 mile mark.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Here you can see the rock features of Nichol Chair, named after a local cobbler, who for some reason, climbed the stack and repaired a pair of boots on the summit.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Another shot of the impressive glacial valley, flanked by grey basalt on either side.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria

High Cup Nick Walk, Cumbria, Dufton, Snow, View, Photo,  lake District
Admiring the view at High Cup Nick, Cumbria - midway on our circular walk from Dufton

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
This half way point on the walk is the perfect place to stop off and have a bite to eat & drink, in this case a cup of hot tea from a flask was in order - perfect!

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
There were three groups of walkers up there with us today - and you can just about make out this guy to the left who seemed to be looking for the way down into the valley.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Whenever i walk in the ice and snow I pack in my bag my Kahtoola Micro-spikes - and they are well worth the money. They are easy to put on your boots when needed and easy to remove. We were walking on a lot of icey rock on this walk - and I didn't lose my footing once because of these beauties :)

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
A panoramic shot of the glaciated valley from High Cup Nick, we'll soon be heading down the valley.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
My mate is off scouting a path down to the valley near Nichols Chair. The snow has covered all traces of a path so it's a bit tricky to find a suitable path.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
This is the path we decide to take, the snow and ice makes the initial drop down a bit slippy - so care is taken - but my micro-spikes help a lot.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
I'm not sure how deep this snow drift actually is - but it only covers our ankles so it's not too bad to walk on. I'm happy for Scott to lead the way - just incase it goes waist deep :-)

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
A rare shot of me, who is usually behind the camera. Im fully wrapped up in all layers now as it's not as warm when you aren't busting a gut walking up hill!

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
The path we have just come down - it was good fun - I like it when things get a bit unpredictable and more challenging.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
It seems there are a few walkers keeping an eye on our descent - and deciding whether to follow!

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
It doesn't take long at all to head down the valley. 

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
That's the steepest part of the descent pretty much done now.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
It gets a little tricky and slow moving when we cover this rocky area. Again the micro-spikes come in handy for me.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
As we head below the snow line - High Cup Gill is in full flow and we can see where we have just come from.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Theres a few friendly horses kicking around - not a bad place to graze.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
The sun is disapearing behind the clouds now and it's getting chillier, still about 2.5 miles to go.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
I think we've seen the best of the sunlight for the day now and the blue skies fade, all in all we've been pretty fortunate with the weather today. We head in the direction of Harbour Flatt farm.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
Harbour Flatt farm is in view - from here we have a flat 2 miles to walk along a minor road back to Dufton, through Keisley.

High Cup Nick Walk from Dufton, Cumbria
And we approach Dufton and the end of the walk. You can just about see the wooden signpost for the Pennine Way to the right which marked the start of the walk.

All in all this is a great walk, it's the first time I have done it and made all the more impressive with the snow higher up. I'll definitely come back at some point - and if you haven't done it before I'd recommend a visit. Hopefully this blog post has wetted your appetite!


Thanks for reading! If you have any questions - just post a comment and I'll try and answer. 

Blog Post by Stuart Hodgson, 'The Hiking Photographer'


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