In all honesty I wouldn’t advise anyone to bother going anywhere near this featureless lump of grouse moor unless (like I did) they want to visit the summit in order to tick off an unclimbed Hewitt. On the other hand it is good for bird life – plenty of meadow pipits, skylarks, lapwings, the odd curlew – and of course grouse.
The shortest ascent is from the Cow Green reservoir but I took the view that I might as well add a bit of interest by starting at Dufton and following the Pennine Way through the (undeniably spectacular) High Cup. I was last there when I passed through on the Pennine Way in 1972 and it was just as magnificent as I had remembered it. After that you could strike up directly towards the summit from High Cup Nick but the entirety of the terrain surrounding Meldon Hill is heather and peat hags that were tortuous enough on the ankles in dry weather and must be dire when it has been wet. So I added a dog leg to my journey by walking on another 2Km to the Pennine Way footbridge over Maize Beck and striking directly north from there across the moorland to the summit. That probably added about a Km to my total journey on the way up and the same on the way down, but it also saved me about a Km of ankle agony in each direction so I reckoned the extra distance was well worthwhile.
My ascent took three hours from the car park in the centre of Dufton; the descent about the same, both times including a few brief stops. There are places where you can find an off-road parking early in the route if you want to cut the length of the walk but High Cup Nick is a popular destination even if Meldon Hill isn’t and you may have to fight for them on a busy day!
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