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High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough's

High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough's


Postby trailmasher » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:58 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Meldon Hill, Murton Fell

Date walked: 12/10/2016

Time taken: 6.12

Distance: 21.73 km

Ascent: 953m

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Meldon Hill and Murton Fell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Even the strongest
elements cannot deter the
well dressed wanderer
from their chosen path.

Well it's that time of the month to take Chris for the first of his walks whilst he's onshore once again and having decided on a local one he wasn't too early on his arrival at the house. The chosen walk would be starting from the village of Murton that sits under the fell of the same name, Murton Fell but also taking in High Cup Nick and Meldon Hill as the report title suggests.

The clouds were hanging low over the fells and although the forecast was to improve and clear we waffled about whether we should change our plans and maybe get over to Haweswater, but as the fells there are no less in height it was decided to carry on as planned.

The car park that is positioned to the north of the village sitting at the foot of Murton Pike is a large well made affair with the hard standing comprising of re-enforced plastic matting that is doing a good job of keeping the car park clean and dry underfoot. As we arrived we were followed by a convoy of 4x4 vehicles belonging to the electricity board towing various machines used for the felling and disposal of troublesome trees and/or bushes that must be a cause of concern around some electrical installation.

We were soon off and on our way through the gate in the wall to start climbing the well made and old quarry/mine track that would allow us easy passage right the way up to the shelters on Burnt Crag. As we looked back south over the village and the Eden Valley the sun was breaking through the heavy covering of cloud…
1 - A view to Murton Village and the Eden Valley.JPG
A view to Murton Village and the Eden Valley.

whilst in front of us to the north it was a beautiful day with glorious blue sky, a few clouds, and warm sunshine giving no hint of what was to come later on in the day as we passed under the twin humps of Murton Crag and commenting on the good choice of areas to walk in today.
2 - Murton Crag.JPG
Murton Crag.

As we progressed steadily uphill the sky was now clearing behind us over the Eden Valley and we had a good view of the fells to the east that is covered by the Warcop Ranges, Roman Fell, Hilton Fell, and Little Fell. Immediately to our left the 594 metre high Murton Pike towers above us and is a fine shaped hill that is always worthy of a climb to its OS trig column and fine views across the valley and surrounding fells. As the track circles anti-clockwise around behind Murton Crag it arrives at a small col from where there is a good path that leads directly onto the summit of it.
4 - Murton Pike.JPG
Murton Pike.

Arriving at Burnt Crag shelters we took a look around at the wonderful vista to the south with patches of sunlight lighting up the valley bottom like huge searchlights whilst behind us to the north the situation is changing with the clouds once more beginning to ease themselves down onto the tops of the higher fells, exactly where we are going. The wide expanse of moorland stretches out on all the other sides whilst now and again the chatter of the odd grouse is heard with the odd few sheep that are around taking no notice of us whatsoever.

From Burnt Crag the path is now a grassy track varying in width from quad bike width to narrow trod as it heads north towards Trundale Gill where the path drops down into its now green, grassy bed with not a drop of water in sight. From Burnt Crag this path is not marked on the OS Map but does have an occasional wooden marker post and links up with the Pennine Way as it passes close to Watch Hill. The narrow ravine makes a welcome change from the wide open spaces that sit above it and there is a great view down between its sides towards Murton Pike and the valley beyond. We took the opposite easy path out of the gill and followed the wall above Middle Tongue leaving it as it turned away to the left whilst we continued high above High Cup Nick looking into it but not able to see the bottom of this massive hole that was scooped out by a glacier of eons past.
9 - The head of High Cup Nick.JPG
The head of High Cup Nick.

We soon came to a grassy rake on our left and this is where we left the path to drop down the quite steep grassy bank before heading directly for the head of High Cup Nick.

I've been here on quite a few occasions but never cease to wonder at the sight and size of this great hole in the ground with its mantle of rock above the grass and scree covered slopes that ease off as they reach the bottom and are separated by High Cupgill Beck that is fed by Strand's Beck on the right and also numerous unnamed side watercourses.
11 - High Cup Nick.JPG
High Cup Nick.

The beck starts well below the head of the 'Nick' which I find strange as there is always water running down into the hole from the rocky access at the corner of High Cupgill Head and High Cup Scar with a fair amount often running from the few small tarns at the head to form a waterfall over the cliff edge at the northerly end of the chasm.

A good circular walk can be made by scrambling down into the hole and following the 4 kilometre long path along the bottom and picking up the path south of Middletongue Crag to Trundale Beck and then following the wall below the bottom of Murton Pike back to Murton if parked there. Don't be tempted to pass through the Harbour Flatt fields as the farmer is quite excitable.

After the photo shoot we retired down into the end of the hole to sit amongst the rocks at the bottom of the cliff that forms the head of HCN to receive some sustenance and whilst eating and chatting the temperature suddenly dropped causing us to put on another layer. After a few more minutes a drop of rain was felt although we weren't quite sure if it wasn't water blown off the small stream at High Cupgill Head. At this small sign and with the temperature drop we felt it prudent to don our wet gear before setting off once again as the wind was now blowing quite strongly and there is no shelter where we are going. It proved to be a good move.

Packed up and sorted we left our shelter to brave the elements which were now cold, windy, and drizzly heading north for the footbridge at Maizebeck Scar but the ground was very wet so we turned to the much nearer Pennine Way to our right following it for a short distance before finding a suitable place to cross the beck from where we continued north up a steady enough incline that was spoilt by the rough ground.
14 - Miles of pathless ground to cover on the way to Meldon Hill.JPG
Miles of pathless ground to cover on the way to Meldon Hill.

The rough tussocky grass continued to about the 640 metre contour where we were introduced to a small shelter cairn.
15 - Cairn at 640 metres set between Great Millstone Sike and Mail Sike.JPG
Cairn at 640 metres set between Great Millstone Sike and Mail Sike.

The going has been a little rough so far but in just a few minutes gets much worse as we now came upon acres of peat hags and we spent much time and effort in finding our way around but usually through them.
16 - There's plenty of this on the way to Meldon Hill.JPG
There's plenty of this on the way to Meldon Hill.

The weather wasn't helping as it was still windy, the mist is down, it's raining, well a steady drizzle really but all the same, it's not a pleasant day just now. Due to this somewhat inclement weather the views are not forthcoming, if there were any to see from the side of this massive peat land area. The GPS isn't much good at telling us where the peat hags start and end so all we could do was continue in roughly the right direction. We could tell it was bad up here as there weren't even any sheep about. There are hidden holes full of water and we never knew what we were going to be standing on. The clumps of normally firm grass were collapsing underfoot with monotonous regularity, and with the legs sometimes sinking up to the knee's between them there was the risk of some serious damage done due to the forward momentum.

Somewhere after the hags we came across a welcome and large patch of shattered moss covered stones and a cairn - there are lots of those around these fells - where we had a minutes rest and debated whether we should about turn and abandon the walk.
17 - An island of rock fragments amongst acres of heather and bog.JPG
An island of rock fragments amongst acres of heather and bog.

None of us wanted to hear that sort of dirty talk so that was pushed to one side and we carried on. We were both warm and dry under our wet gear; we could get a drink easy enough without opening our bags so on we went with the ground getting a little easier underfoot but it was another 40 minutes before we arrived at the summit OS trig column. And what a disappointment it was. It was lying on the ground scattered about in small pieces with just the stump poking out of the ground stuck up inside a circle of stones.
18 - The remains of Meldon Hill OS trig column strewn amongst the grass.JPG
The remains of Meldon Hill OS trig column strewn amongst the grass.

We stood in the mist and windblown rain as I shouted for my mum whilst Chris quickly posted a photo on Facebook with the caption 'All this, for that', even the shelter cairn had been wrecked and pushed over to form one untidy pile of rocks. How the hell can a concrete filled stone built OS column in the middle of purgatory come to be in such a state?

We didn't linger long before setting off south down a much more pleasant fellside than the one that had taken us up to a knackered trig column, passing over the shattered stones of High Crag then Low Crag to finish up after 50 minutes at the Pennine Way footbridge at Dobson Mere Foot.
20 - Shattered rock at High Crag.JPG
Shattered rocks at High Crag.

23 - The Pennine Way footbridge over Maize Beck.JPG
The Pennine Way footbridge over Maize Beck.

The clag had followed us down and was now hanging low over High Cup Nick, and it was still raining as we sought shelter under a small crag a few metres west of the bridge, this is where we had our long awaited break. We were sheltered from the cold wind but not the continuous dripping of rainwater as it endeavoured to infiltrate both sandwiches and coffee alike, so not even any peace here either as we looked across to the lower slopes of Murton Fell with the upper ones hidden in clag.

As we ate we once again discussed the option of doing a runner back to High Cup Nick and returning back to the car over more civilised ground, but once again the thought of a rain sodden, clag ridden, and grassy hill pock marked by acres of peat hags - albeit a big one - beating us proved too much for our masochistic and obsessive nature of walking in conditions such as this. So we did it.
24 - Maize Beck from the footbridge.JPG
Maize Beck from the footbridge.

We set off from the footbridge in less than ideal conditions taking the easiest line possible and I must say that the incline is easy as is the going. That is until once again we came across acres of peat hags that were as bad if not worse than on Meldon Hill.
26 - Bad ground on Murton Fell.JPG
Bad ground on Murton Fell.

Way in front of us we could see the outline of a fell through the clag and we were both hoping that it wasn't the one that we needed to get to, but it was. There is no point in relating our passage over this terrain as it is similar to what we left behind on Meldon Hill, but it is rough going. As we walked on the aforesaid outline was reached with yet another one behind it and what we originally thought was Little Fell through the clag was indeed the summit that we were looking for. And what a boring top it is, one miserable little cairn of a few grey stones…
27 - Murton Fell summit cairn.JPG
Murton Fell summit cairn.

with a second and larger tumbledown one further to the west and more to the edge of the fell that we supposed would have supplied a more open vista had the weather not been as it was on this day. A strange phenomenon and optical illusion was that Murton Pike at 594 metres looked higher than Murton fell at 675 metres even from the smaller cairn further to the east.
28 - Chris at Murton Fell's second summit cairn.JPG
Chris at Murton Fell's second summit cairn.

The only good memory that I will have of Murton Fell is this…
30 - A real rainbow.JPG
A real rainbow.

31 - Some blue sky but it's still raining.JPG
Some blue sky but it's still raining.

the others will be one of great disdain and disappointment of what we saw when we arrived there after the graft in far from ideal conditions to find even less than there is on Meldon Hill. Once again we didn't linger and we thankfully left all behind to now walk south over better ground than on the way up the north slopes with nary a sign of peat hags. We passed a couple of curricks before reaching the old path - unmarked on the OS Map - that runs from just east of Murton Herds, passes over the head of Scordale before swinging west over Gasdale Head and Flagstaff to meet up with the old mine/quarry track that then runs down into Murton. Maybe at one time it continued on to the old workings around the Maize Beck and Cow Green areas?
37 - The path runs over Gasdale Head.JPG
The path runs over Gasdale Head.

We crossed that path and followed one that heads of roughly south towards the Warcop Ranges Boundary. This path is identified by a number of old iron posts set at wide intervals as it crosses the east top of Gasdale Head and follows it around to arrive at the side of the Ministry land…
38 - Near the boundary of the Warcop Ranges.JPG
Near the boundary of the Warcop Ranges.

from where it more or less follows the line of it for quite some time before turning to the southwest and passing through a gate in a wall to then put us in the area of the old White Mines. Whilst we have been descending the weather has been getting better as we left the clag behind and noticed the sunshine in the valley below where it looks like they have had no rain whatsoever, which proved to be the case on our arrival there.
41 - Murton Pike.JPG
Murton Pike.

We descended through the interesting mine area with good views down Gasdale and Murton Beck with Murton Pike…
42 - Murton Pike from above White Mine.JPG
Murton Pike from above White Mine.

towering over us in the west and apart from one deep mined out area it has recovered remarkably well with everything now grassed over apart from where a few piles of mine waste has been taken away for what we presumed was for re-use in filling up holes in estate tracks. This is similar to what E and I saw in the old mine workings when walking the Burnhope Moor hills.
45 - Looking into part of the old White Mine workings.JPG
Looking into part of the old White Mine workings.

As we progressed down through Gasdale along the old mine road the sunlit Eden Valley was laid out before us.
46 - Looking down Gasdale and Murton Beck towards the Eden Valley.JPG
Looking down Gasdale and Murton Beck towards the Eden Valley.

From arriving at the path and cairn just east of Flagstaff the paths have been good and well graded with just a little steepness around the White Mines area and from the mines continued as green lanes and mine track right the way back to the car park at Murton.

On Pink's 2012 album, 'Truth About Love', track 2 is called 'Blow Me (One Last Kiss)' and at 1 minute 7 seconds the line 'I've had a s**t day' just about sums up this walk on what was my last two Pennine's Hewitt's.

Well the first 2 hours and last 1½ hours was alright, it was the bit in between that was a tad suspect. At High Cup Nick it was so cold that I could hardly snap the strap fastenings on my back pack together as the temperature had dropped so much, so it was gloves on from this point onwards. From this point on it has been wet and windy with clag and why the low clouds don't disperse in a wind I'll never understand. The ground has been rough all the way and getting harder the higher we climbed especially through the many peat hags that were some of the worst that I have encountered on my past travels through the Pennines.

I was fortunate enough to keep my feet and everything else dry, whilst Chris, although mostly dry, encountered some softer spots than I did or maybe it's because he's bigger and heavier than I am that caused him to yelp and emit a regular true red blooded north eastern curse as he sank into the hidden delights between the tussocks of rough grass amongst the hags. But the lowest points must have been when we arrived at the summits to find nothing apart from a shattered trig column and a miserable pile of stones hardly noticeable amongst the grass, rain and clag.

On our way up to High Cup Nick we all but decided to climb Murton Fell from its west side with a mere 55 metres of climb but we declined that option to stick to our original plan and circular route by way of the old White Mines which we couldn't have achieved if we had climbed Murton Fell first. Withstanding the weather and underfoot conditions we carried on smiling with the typical dry humour amongst the moans and groans helping us on our way, and with this being only Chris's second walk in the Pennines after this one I don't think that he will be in a rush to do another, if ever. For myself the journey finding and walking the Pennine's Hewitt's has been an enjoyable experience and put me on much ground that I wouldn't ordinarily have covered. My journey through them has covered all the seasons with snow, rain, fog, sunshine, and wind all being part of my enjoyment in doing so. Some I may re-visit, others never.

I have started making a foray into the Yorkshire Dales and have also found walking those to be quite delightful, so far, but no doubt there will be the odd walk that will be challenging underfoot but will have to be taken in my stride.
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby dav2930 » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:01 pm

Well done on completing the Pennine (or is that North Pennine?) Hewitts - quite a Purgatorial quest by the sound of things, especially in dismal weather like that. I'll bet it's a relief to get those out of the way? Meldon Hill is surely one of the remotest (and dreariest) summits in England.

trailmasher wrote: How the hell can a concrete filled stone built OS column in the middle of purgatory come to be in such a state?

:lol: Maybe something to do with the fact that it is in the middle of Purgatory? Or is it the third circle of Inferno?

I guess there's a certain cathartic satisfaction in doggedly pushing on through some of the most desolate and depressing country you are ever likely to encounter? It brings to mind a 'novel' by Samuel Beckett, called How It Is, in which the protagonist crawls hopelessly through an eternity of mud and darkness with only occasional fragments of memory to keep him going. (Well, I hope it wasn't quite as bad as that! :lol: ).
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby trailmasher » Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:28 pm

dav2930 wrote:Well done on completing the Pennine (or is that North Pennine?) Hewitts - quite a Purgatorial quest by the sound of things, especially in dismal weather like that. I'll bet it's a relief to get those out of the way? Meldon Hill is surely one of the remotest (and dreariest) summits in England.

trailmasher wrote: How the hell can a concrete filled stone built OS column in the middle of purgatory come to be in such a state?

:lol: Maybe something to do with the fact that it is in the middle of Purgatory? Or is it the third circle of Inferno?

crawls hopelessly through an eternity of mud and darkness with only occasional fragments of memory to keep him going. (Well, I hope it wasn't quite as bad as that! :lol: ).


It felt a lot like that dav :crazy: and maybe would be a wise move to extract the brain when walking in conditions like that was :lol: :lol:

Thanks for reading and your comments dav2930 :D :clap: and all the Pennine Hewitt's are now completed with just 15 left in the Yorkshire Dales :)
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby Broggy1 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:16 pm

Cracking report and well done with the Pennine Hewitts. Meldon Hill is certainly remote and I remember thinking it was a "once only" hill but I dare say I'll do it again as it's one of the hills closest to my parents place.

You've got some great hills to come in Yorkshire - and even Yock Moor will seem like a piece of cake after some of the NP Hills. Enjoy! :clap:
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby trailmasher » Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:49 pm

Broggy1 wrote:Cracking report and well done with the Pennine Hewitts. Meldon Hill is certainly remote and I remember thinking it was a "once only" hill but I dare say I'll do it again as it's one of the hills closest to my parents place.

You've got some great hills to come in Yorkshire - and even Yock Moor will seem like a piece of cake after some of the NP Hills. Enjoy! :clap:


Thanks for your welcome comments :D Broggy and thanks for the encouragement re the Yorkshire Dales of which the ones done so far have been really enjoyable :)

BTW I've read some real horror stories regarding Yock Moor :roll: so looking forward to meeting and the challenge :lol: :lol:
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby ChrisW » Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:48 am

Good lord TM, I genuinely feel for you after reading that :crazy: But another milestone ticked, congrats on completing the (glorious) pennine hewitts mate ....maybe these weren't the highlight but I know you'll be back :lol: :lol:
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby john923 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:09 pm

trailmasher wrote:'I've had a s**t day' just about sums up this walk


A.k.a. the philosophical approach to hillwalking? :lol: Congrats on getting the Pennine Hewitts 'done'. I'm sure you'll revisit some but hopefully under better conditions than you got on this outing.
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby trailmasher » Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:29 pm

ChrisW wrote: congrats on completing the (glorious) pennine hewitts mate ....maybe these weren't the highlight but I know you'll be back :lol: :lol:


Thanks for the pat on the back Chris :D :D and although I will most likely re-visit some of the Pennine's :clap: I can assure you that these two will not be on the list of 'come back and see me again' :roll: :crazy:
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby trailmasher » Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:35 pm

john923 wrote:
trailmasher wrote:'I've had a s**t day' just about sums up this walk


A.k.a. the philosophical approach to hillwalking? :lol: Congrats on getting the Pennine Hewitts 'done'. I'm sure you'll revisit some but hopefully under better conditions than you got on this outing.


Thanks john923 :D and if you haven't done these two yet I would suggest waiting until next summer when we have had a very long dry spell of weather :lol: :lol: Whilst Chris and I was walking I couldn't get those three lines of the song out of my head :lol: :lol: and even more so when the top had been reached :roll: Thanks for reading and comments :clap:
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby colgregg » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:34 pm

A good walk with plenty of Bogtrotting involved. The first time i walked to High cup I came in directly from the North (via the old High water P.W. route.) The Effect of not actually seeing the immense gulf of the valley until i was practically on the edge was awesome.
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Re: High Cup Nick, Meldon Hill, Murton Fell and rough grough

Postby trailmasher » Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:47 pm

colgregg wrote:A good walk with plenty of Bogtrotting involved. The first time i walked to High cup I came in directly from the North (via the old High water P.W. route.) The Effect of not actually seeing the immense gulf of the valley until i was practically on the edge was awesome.


Bog trotters delight indeed CG :crazy: :lol: and although I've been up to HCN quite a few times the view upon approaching it never ceases to amaze me 8) it's a great place to visit at any time of year :)

Thanks for reading and your comments :D
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