High Cup Nick from Dufton round

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The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of Northern England spanning westwards from the Vale of York, over the Pennines and into Cumbria. Known mainly as The Dales it has outstanding scenery, a diversity of wildlife habitats, a rich cultural heritage and peacefulness. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, created in 1954 and one of fifteen National Parks in Britain, has over twenty main dales each with their own unique character and atmosphere.  Most of the dales are named after their river or stream except Wensleydale which is named after the small village and former market town of Wensley rather than the River Ure. The Northern Dales are rugged and the Southern Dales are less remote but the dales, so beautiful, are littered and scared with ancient settlement sites, disused mineral workings, dry-stone walls and barns. The U and V shaped valleys, formed by glaciers, are mainly grazed by sheep and cattle and provides the hills for walkers and climbers and the valley bottoms for strollers and amblers.

Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 metres (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists from all over the world and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.

The Eden Valley is a much quieter area of Cumbria with its traditional towns and pubs, beautiful hamlets and sandstone villages some dating back to Viking times, lush green countryside and dramatic landscapes. The valley is unspoiled by industry and lies between the Lake District to the west and the Pennines to the east and the Howgill Fells to the south. Eden is excellent for walking and cycling with many paths to choose from. The Settle to Carlisle railway runs through the valley and occasionally steam trains can be seen on this line. The River Eden meanders through the valley with its source at Mallerstang in the Pennines near the North Yorkshire border to the Solway Firth at Carlisle. The River Eden is one of only a few rivers that flow northwards and along with many tranquil riverside walks it is one of the finest salmon and trout fishing rivers in the north of England.

Dufton is a peaceful pretty village situated on the eastern side of the Eden Valley and only about 3 miles north from Appleby-in-Westmorland. The village was built around an oblong green which is divided into two diagonally by an avenue of lime trees. The houses were built from the 17th century onwards and the village has changed little over the last 100 years. The Stag Inn situated in the centre of Dufton village overlooking the green was built in 1703 as an inn with solid oak beams. This classic country pub upholds the centuries old tradition of friendly hospitality, good beer and serves a wide choice of meals to tempt the visitor or walker. The shop and tearoom opposite the pub is now called the Post Box Pantry open 9am till 5pm seven days a week selling a variety of goods and serving hot and cold snacks and refreshments. The village also has a Caravan and Camping Park and a Youth Hostel which backs onto Dufton Ghyll a nature reserve of deciduous woodland on the banks of a steep ravine attracting many species of wildlife including the red squirrel. Dufton designated a conservation area in 2005 borders the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Pennine Way, Pennine Bridle Way and the Pennine Cycle Way pass through the village.

High Cup Nick on the border of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria is a classic u-shaped valley high on the western flanks of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This dramatic geological formation at the top of High Cup Gill, approx 592 metres, is part of the well known Whin Sill exposed by the passage of ice and the rocky outcrop overlooks the best glacial valley in Northern England. Here you can see the grey-blue dolerite crags which also form High Force and Couldron Snout. The boulders scattering the valley floor are relics of the collapsed sill where the underlying limestone has eroded away. Occasionally the stream that empties into the cleft can be seen spurting upwards.

The Pennine Way often referred to as the back bone of England is 268 miles long. The Old Naggs Head in Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District, once the village blacksmiths dating back to 1577, is the official start of the Pennine Way. The National Trail heads north along the Pennine Hills passing through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park ending at Kirk Yetholm just inside the Scottish Border. The Pennine Way, very popular with walkers for many years, has 535 access points where it intersects with other public rights of way and crosses many roads and passes through many villages and towns with good public transport making it easier to be able to do long or short walks. The Pennine Way is not accessible to cyclists or horse riders but the more or less parallel Pennine Bridleway is open to all except motorised vehicles.

The Walk

We turn right out of the car park and follow the road to the edge of Dufton and turn left onto a track sign posted “Pennine Way High Cup Nick 3½ miles”. We now just keep heading uphill on the track until we reach the rocky outcrop of High Cup Nick. We then bear right round the top of the outcrop to the stream then carefully descend over the rocks into the valley below. Once into the valley we head forward over the boulders and rocks then pick up the grassy path. When we reach a wall we cross over the stile and continue ahead following the path, sometimes faint, to the left of a large pond ahead. At the pond we head forward and take the track below which takes us to the farm. At the farm we bear right and follow the farm track to the minor single track tarmac road. We turn right and follow this road for quite a while then at the t-junction we turn right back into Dufton.


This is a moderate to hard walk on grass, gravel and tarmac paths/tracks and minor tarmac road. There are some inclines and declines and one steep descent over rocks and boulders from the top of High Cup Nick.

Elevation: approx lowest point 187m (612ft) approx highest point 592m (1941ft) approx ascent 528m (1731ft)

Distance and Start Point

Approx 8.85 miles allow 4 to 5 hours using OS Explorer Map OL 19, Howgill fells and Upper Eden Valley. This walk is done clockwise.

Start point: Dufton free car park.


Dufton is in the Eden Valley, on the border of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria.

Directions and Parking

Travelling west on the A66 from Scotch Corner after passing Brough and Warcop take the left turn for Appleby-in-Westmorland. Turn right onto the B6542 heading through Appleby at the y-junction take the right fork under the railway bridge and under the A66 and follow road to Dufton. After double bend car park is on the left.

Travelling east on the A66 from Penrith take a left turn for Long Marton. In Long Marton take the first left under the railway bridge and follow road bearing right into Dufton. Car park is on the right.

Parking: Dufton free car park and some road side parking.

Toilets and Refreshments

There are public toilets in the car park and for refreshments there is the Stag Inn and the Post Box Pantry. The next nearest facilities are at Appleby-in-Westmorland.

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