Dr Livingstone I Presume

Hewitts: Melmerby Fell

Date walked: 27/02/2019

Time taken: 3.1 hours

Distance: 9.6km

Ascent: 565m

With the spell of unseasonably fine February weather due to come to an end I was fairly desperate to squeeze in a walk before normal service was resumed. Following dropping Grace off at college I made my way up Weardale, through Alston and over the Hartside pass. The fell in my and Hughie's sights was the far westerly outpost of the Main North Pennine ridge, Melmerby Fell. I was well aware that I had driven past a route up the fell which would have saved my legs several hundred meters of ascent but I had another, what I hoped, more interesting approach in mind.

We arrived in Melmerby and took the small single track road up to Rake Beck Wood. Just before the road takes a right hand bend there is room for several cars, not that you will probably ever have issues parking here, and I was soon booted up and heading off up the track on a beautiful spring like morning.

ImageTrack from the parking area by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageCrossing Rake Beck by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageExiting Rake Beck Wood by Anthony Young, on Flickr

The track goes through the wood and climbs out the other side, it wasn't too bad from a mud point of view but following a wet spell it may well be a challenge. Once out into the open the track rises gently and is good going underfoot with fine views along the North Pennine escarpment opening up.

ImageAlong the track with Melmerby Fell ahead by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageAcross the fields to the fells by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageHigher up the track by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageIntake wall by Anthony Young, on Flickr

The main reason for approaching from this side was to take in the Dewey of Cuns Fell, you can of course just visit it as a out and back but I wanted to do a more natural route, so to speak. I wasn't sure which of Melmerby or Cuns Fells I was going to visit first, but judging by the the wall/Barbed wire fence on the Southern side of the track a direct descent from the later would leave me with one gate to aim for and many fences/walls in between :think: with this in mind I decided to go for Cuns fell first but waited till I was above the intake wall to cut across. Turns out this was a good decision with largely firm ground and in places decent trods to follow as I stayed above the fence having only one wall to cross on the way to my target.

ImageSomewhere above Dry Sike by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageWall leading to Melmerby High Scar by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageRough Brow by Anthony Young, on Flickr

The route across the moor was really easy going and the small remaining climb to this fine little top, a pleasure. Cuns Fell has the feel of Lakeland rather than the North Pennines with it's multitude of rocks and fine places to lodge oneself for a rest. The views were good and would have been even better on a clear day where a tremendous Lake District vista would be on display. The Haze was quite thick however meaning the Eden Valley faded away into whiteness without any sign of what lay beyond.

ImageHazy Ousbydale by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Rocks on Cuns Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageHazy Ousbydale again by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageCuns Fell in front of Melmerby High Scar by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageHaze obscuring views to the Lakes by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageHughie by Anthony Young, on Flickr

I had a snack and an explore of the fell before heading to the col and the climb up Rough Brow. This even though it was the steepest part of the day was still not too bad helped by the path being well graded higher up. There was a bit of clambering over fences to get onto the open fell but we were soon striding out towards the summit. That was until a smallish boulder field required traversing but all in all the way to the summit is a easy wander over firm ground, certainly not what you expect in the North Pennines.

ImageLooking back to Cuns fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageTop of the path up Rough Brow by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Back down the fence to Cuns Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Lichen by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageCross Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageLooking back from the boulder field by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageCross Fell again by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageMelmerby Fell Summit by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Views from the summit were curtailed by the plateau and the haze so I didn't linger. By now the haze was being made worse by quite a lot of heather burning going on to the north making me even more happy I'd come this way and not from the Hartside Pass. And then something surprising happened, I came across another walker :shock: not really a common event while midweek walking in the Pennines, "Dr Livingstone I presume!" he announced summing up the surprise at running into another human up here, a brief chat mainly about the superb weather, we parted ways and I headed off to Knapside hill for another snack and a rest.

ImageKnapside Hill by Anthony Young, on Flickr

The way down was a little more North Pennines but more just damp ground rather than man swallowing bogs or Mountainous Peat Hags and we were soon back on the main track and heading downwards. This is a really nice way off the fell, good underfoot and plenty of interest even with distant views curtailed.

ImageCurrick on the moor edge by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageOne careful owner... by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageLooking over to Cuns fell with Cross fell in the background by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageHeading down the track by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageGate Castle by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageHeading down the track by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImagePennine Views by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageRake Beck Wood by Anthony Young, on Flickr

I was back at the car in no time, happy I had actually grabbed a few hours to enjoy the February sunshine before it returned to normal (the very next day). This is a nice short walk to take in a couple of fine Pennine Fells, highly recommended if you have half a day to spare in this neck of the woods.

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Comments: 4

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Location: County Durham
Occupation: General dogsbody
Interests: Walking (Who would have guessed), photography and playing Guitar.
Activity: Walker
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Blaven
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: Boots
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Camera: Canon EOS400d
Ideal day out: Ridge walk without to much exposure.
Ambition: Too keep climbing hills

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Last visited: Apr 22, 2019
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