Dufton to High Cup Nick

This route elevates walkers from the bottom of the Eden Valley up into the Pennines where they will have the chance to view amazing panoramas of the lush Eden Valley and the iconic High Cup Nick.

Circular | 15km (9.31 miles) | Difficulty: Medium

Please note that the route given is a rough guide and should not be relied upon solely when planning a walk. Remember to plan ahead, get a proper map and ensure you have the right equipment.

The route’s challenge depends greatly on the conditions. On a dry day the route offers amazing views with a leisurely ascent and descent but on wetter days (which are quite frequent here due to its placement on the edge of the Pennines) the portions of the route taking place on higher ground can be formidable. All tracks along the route are clear and simple enough to follow.

1: Starting from the village’s car park walkers should follow the main road South-Easterly until they are just about to leave the village. Here there is a sign pointing out the Pennine Way along a lane heading East. The route follows this lane.

2: From here the route follows the Pennine Way along the lane till it eventually becomes a track. Along this section the route gently ascends, offering good views of Dufton Pike to the North.

3: The track eventually leads into an enclosure. Here the route heads through the gate to the left and further up hill. Along here walkers will pass a cairn with an arrow laid out in stones next to it. The route follows where this arrow points to the top of the climb and continues along the Pennine Way path which is well maintained. Along this section you will have some great views of both the Eden Valley and High Cup Nick if it isn’t too cloudy.

4: Eventually the route reaches a fork in the path. There is the chance to follow the lower route though this is not advised in wetter conditions as it is closer to the edge and involves scrambling across rocks. The route therefore follows the path heading up hill. Both these paths eventually meet back up before reaching the head of the valley.

5: From here things can be very wet as clouds and wind are funnelled to the top of the valley. Walkers can choose to take an alternate route here which involves heading down into the valley. This route entails scrambling over a large boulder field to get to the bottom of the valley with a steep descent and is not recommended in wetter conditions. This route climbs uphill instead to reach a track that follows the ridge on the other side of the valley. Though this track isn’t as clear as the previously followed Pennine Way it is clear enough to be obvious in most conditions and has the occasional marker alongside it.

6: Eventually the track leads over a style and starts to move away from the ridge edge. It is important to note that the track along this side of the valley can be quite boggy in places. The route follows the track as it moves away from the High Cup Nick valley and over the top of Middle Tongue ridge.

7: Eventually the track starts to descend into the Trundale Gill valley. Murton Pike can be viewed on the far side against the stunning backdrop of the Eden Valley.

8: The route continues downhill and edges around the bottom of Middle Tongue. Along this section the route meets up with the track that would be followed by walkers taking the alternative route down the High Cup Nick valley floor.

9: At the bottom of the descent the track crosses Trundale Gill then follows a short incline up to Harbour Flatt, a farm. The route passes trough a gate into the farmyard where walkers should head immediately right and along the track to the road.

10: Once at the road the route again heads right and follows the road North. This is a relatively quiet stretch of road but walkers should remain vigilant of vehicles coming round the many blinds corners along this section. There are several chances to view the High Cup Nick valley again along the road.

11: Eventually the road reaches the main way into Dufton where the route heads right and back into the village.

In addition to the free car park (with facilities) there are plenty of places to park along the roadside in Dufton, though it can get quite busy. The route could be attempted in an anti-clockwise direction without much difficulty as the inclines and descents are pretty much the same. The alternative route of heading down the valley itself will shave a mile off the walk but should only be attempted in good weather conditions.


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