walkhighlands

This board helps you to share your walking route experiences in England and Wales... or overseas.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

A bag of M&Ms (Mickle and Murton Fells)

A bag of M&Ms (Mickle and Murton Fells)


Postby john923 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:19 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Mickle Fell, Murton Fell

Date walked: 03/06/2012

Time taken: 10

Distance: 26.5 km

Ascent: 890m

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).


20120603MickleFell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Well, if you’d wanted a Jubilee walk without the crowds and bunting this was surely going to be it. We’d planned this walk some three weeks in advance, playing it by the book and applying for the required permit. But these permits are date-specific, so if you weather is awful you have the choice of putting up with it or starting the whole process over again. (Actually getting the permit was very straightforward, after an initial letter everything was done efficiently by email and only took a few days. The contact is sally.barnes@landmarc.mod.uk if you are interested). As part of the application, you also have to decide on one of two permitted routes, both of which follow the county boundary fence to Mickle Fell, either from the south starting from the B6276, or from the north starting from Maize Beck. We chose the northern route we which we accessed from Hilton – it’s a long walk-in but gave us the opportunity to tick off Murton Fell as well.

IMG_4672.jpg
Entering the restricted area

So 10am we were ready to go. A phone call to the Guard Room to tell them we were on our way went unanswered, which kind of defeated the purpose of that part of the permit agreement. A stiff easterly wind meant that it was hats and gloves from the off and it felt more like November than the beginning of June.

IMG_4673.jpg
View up Scordale

The walk up Scordale is an interesting one and there are three Info Panels along the way pointing out Bronze Age field systems, lime kilns and the extensive remains of mining activity. One of them usefully described the process of “hushing”, which I wasn’t familiar with, though I’d spotted hushes marked all over the Pennine maps. Turns out it is the building of temporary reservoirs which are then breached in order to flush the fellside of earth and vegetation in the hope of revealing mineral rich seams.

IMG_4674.jpg
Hushes (the dents in the skyline) at Mason Holes

After 3.5km the track ended and as the valley narrowed the way steadily upwards was an intermittent path with occasional marker posts. One warned of a ban on spades, not that we had brought one along with us on the offchance of a digging opportunity.

IMG_4676.jpg
View back down Scordale - with sign

The path emerged above Scordale Head to a featureless expanse of heather moorland and our first view of Mickle Fell shrouded in mist. In poor visibility this wouldn’t be much fun – as it was it just started to drizzle instead. The key was to locate Swarth Beck as this provides a decent handrail for onward progress. The area was liberally sprinkled with wooden shooting boxes, one of which we occupied for our lunch stop as being the only dry place to sit.

IMG_4677.jpg
First view of Mickle Fell

IMG_4678.jpg
Looking over to Swarth Beck from Scordale Head

We continued following the beck until it joined the much wider Maize Beck and carried on to the boundary fence. Luckily by this time the wind had eased, the rain had stopped and the mist had lifted. Although the amount of ascent from the beck is only some 260m it felt like a real slog over rough ground, only becoming grassier towards the top. This was our first decent walk since Easter and it showed.

IMG_4679.jpg
Confluence of Swarth and Maize Becks

IMG_4681.jpg
Looking down the boundary fence - Meldon Hill behind

But eventually the summit plateau of the fell was reached – this is flat and grassy and it was easy walking to the substantial summit cairn. The views were grey and gloomy in all directions so we didn’t hang about.

IMG_4682.jpg
Mickle Fell plateau

IMG_4684.jpg
Mickle Fell summit cairn

IMG_4685.jpg
View to Little Fell from Mickle Fell

Getting back down to Maize Beck was much easier when we followed one of the streams which wind through the heather. These have grassy banks which make for much faster progress. There were also plenty of grouse chicks about, which is perhaps the main reason why access routes are defined so strictly. Back at Maize Beck it was time for tea and malt loaf. On a balmy sunny day sitting here would be a delight, with the wide shallow stream gently cascading over flat rock ledges. Not today though.

IMG_4680.jpg
Maize Beck again

IMG_4686.jpg
Swarth Beck

In order to get to Murton Fell we followed the Nuttall suggestion of following Master Sike. This made sense but was still slow going. Since you are effectively walking in a shallow depression with the heather at head height it is also not very scenic, apart from the view back towards Mickle Fell.

IMG_4687.jpg
Mickle Fell from Master Sike

Higher up the GPS was invaluable in keeping us on track as with the joining of minor tributaries to the main stream it was not at all obvious which was which. The heather petered out quite suddenly at the top and it was then straightforward to find the few stones which marked the summit (such as it is). But at least there were decent views north to Cross and Dun Fells and south to Little Fell.

IMG_4689.jpg
Cross and Dun Fells from Murton Fell

IMG_4690.jpg
Little Fell and Roman Fell from Murton Fell

Thankfully the route back to Scordale Head was remarkably easy. After skirting round the summit tarn it was a simple case of heading SE then E over grass slopes. If one wanted to bag Murton Fell alone from Hilton this would be a decent route of ascent. After that it was just the long walk out

IMG_4692.jpg
Tarn on Murton Fell

IMG_4694.jpg
Heading back to Scordale - Roman Fell ahead

Oh that we could have been walking into the warm glow of a setting sun but it wasn’t to be. Instead the high spot of the return leg was seeing two hares as we approached the village. They ran up the track towards us, stopped for a moment with their dark-tipped ears silhoutted against the sandy track, and then bounded off up the grassy bank.
john923
 
Posts: 196
Munros:16   Corbetts:9
Grahams:6   Donalds:11
Sub 2000:12   Hewitts:221
Wainwrights:168   
Joined: Apr 20, 2009
Location: Worcestershire

Re: A bag of M&Ms (Mickle and Murton Fells)

Postby Red Peak » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:47 pm

A good report, John - it made for interesting reading.

I have to admit, the more I read about this group of Hewitts, the more I'm tempted to leave them till last. I initially thought you could just wander up onto these hills on any of the access days, but it seems a permit is needed for Mickle Fell and that Little Fell is only accessible via a guided walk?

My current plan is to do as you did and do Mickle Fell after getting a permit. As for the other two, maybe go up Murton Fell from Hilton on another 'access' day in early evening, and after convincing myself that there's no activity over on Little Fell, 'accidentally' stray (very quickly!) onto it followed by a rather quick descent to Hilton. Of course, if the military are reading this, I'll be doing no such thing :wink:

As you say though, once you have your permit, you have to get the good weather as this area looks like it could be tricky in thick mist. One thing I've just noticed though is that Murton Fell does only have the one summit. I initially thought it had twin summits as the 1:50,000 map gives two spot heights of 673m, but the 1:25,000 map shows the southern of the two (the one you visited) as being 675m. Ah well, at least that's saved me a bit of leg work :D
User avatar
Red Peak
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 747
Munros:260   Corbetts:27
Grahams:22   Donalds:39
Sub 2000:35   Hewitts:314
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Mar 24, 2010

Re: A bag of M&Ms (Mickle and Murton Fells)

Postby colgregg » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:49 pm

Red Peak wrote:A good report, John - it made for interesting reading.

I have to admit, the more I read about this group of Hewitts, the more I'm tempted to leave them till last. I initially thought you could just wander up onto these hills on any of the access days, but it seems a permit is needed for Mickle Fell and that Little Fell is only accessible via a guided walk?

My current plan is to do as you did and do Mickle Fell after getting a permit. As for the other two, maybe go up Murton Fell from Hilton on another 'access' day in early evening, and after convincing myself that there's no activity over on Little Fell, 'accidentally' stray (very quickly!) onto it followed by a rather quick descent to Hilton. Of course, if the military are reading this, I'll be doing no such thing :wink:

As you say though, once you have your permit, you have to get the good weather as this area looks like it could be tricky in thick mist. One thing I've just noticed though is that Murton Fell does only have the one summit. I initially thought it had twin summits as the 1:50,000 map gives two spot heights of 673m, but the 1:25,000 map shows the southern of the two (the one you visited) as being 675m. Ah well, at least that's saved me a bit of leg work :D

Murton Fell is not restricted for access so can be done anytime. A good walk that I did a few weeks ago is to start from Murton and include the superb summit of Murton Pike before heading onto the fell, aiming for the tarn on it's eastern side. Then head West across the summit plateau to the prominent curricks before dropping down to end up at High Cup Nick.Then follow a good path round the eastern rim to Trundale Gill before returning to Murton along the southern side of the pike. If doing Mickle Fell from the South I can see how easy it could be to "lose your way" and end up straying onto Little fell while trying to locate the fence back to the roadside. (save a couple of miles on your plan). I'm going to get Mickle fell done sometime this year and am sure I might just lose my way too and blame it on a cheapjack compass!!
On the subject of Murton fell's summits they are hardly noticeable on what appears to be a flat plateau. Only a tiny pile of rocks identifies them as there must be several areas where the height difference can be measured in inches.
colgregg
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 2182
Munros:15   Corbetts:5
Grahams:5   
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:182
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Aug 25, 2009
Location: Richmond North Yorkshire

Re: A bag of M&Ms (Mickle and Murton Fells)

Postby ChrisW » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:39 pm

Interesting stuff John really opened my eyes, I didn't realise the MOD could be so accommodating :shock: I've never come across the term 'hushing' before either- you learn something every day :wink: cheers :D
User avatar
ChrisW
Rambler
 
Posts: 4940
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

Re: A bag of M&Ms (Mickle and Murton Fells)

Postby john923 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:46 pm

Red Peak wrote:I have to admit, the more I read about this group of Hewitts, the more I'm tempted to leave them till last. I initially thought you could just wander up onto these hills on any of the access days, but it seems a permit is needed for Mickle Fell and that Little Fell is only accessible via a guided walk?


True, the only official way of doing Little Fell is by signing up to the guided walk organised by northpennines.org.uk. Even the MOD were helpful enough to point this out, explaining that Little Fell is not covered by CROW access. That said, I'm sure this must be regularly ignored. We met one chap who was descending from Murton Fell as we were heading up and he'd done Mickle Fell (without permit) and Little Fells the previous day. In fact, I do wonder whether the whole permit thing has more to do with the landowner not wanting folks tramping all over his birds than with the MOD not wanting you to step on anything they've left behind.

And thanks for the Murton Pike idea, colgregg. We've yet to explore High Cup Nick so I'll save this one up for a future visit.
john923
 
Posts: 196
Munros:16   Corbetts:9
Grahams:6   Donalds:11
Sub 2000:12   Hewitts:221
Wainwrights:168   
Joined: Apr 20, 2009
Location: Worcestershire

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Outside Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests