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High Cup Nick on a Clear Day from Harbour Flatt near Dufton

High Cup Nick on a Clear Day from Harbour Flatt near Dufton


Dufton village is situated to the north of the A66 road from Scotch Corner to Penrith.  It lies almost due north of Appleby and is signed off the A66.    There is a small car park with toilets in Dufton. Harbour Flatt is off the road from Dufton to Murtonw which goes SE from Dufton. There is a house on the road where the track to Harbour Flatt starts.  There is limited verge parking nearby.  There is no parking up the track to Harbour Flatt.


10 km         About 4 hours


There are no peaks but the highest point reached, on High Cup Nick, is about 580 m.

OS 1: 50 000, Sheet 91.


High Cup Nick is a unique, deep river valley with cliffs either side.  It is well worth a visit on a clear day.  Little of the dramatic features will be seen on a misty day!  From High Cup Nick towards Dufton, the Pennine Way is followed but this has some quite stony sections!  Views can be excellent especially to Cross Fell and Mickle Fell as well as the distant Lakeland Fells including Helvellyn.


(1) Walk up the track to Harbour Flatt which goes left between the first two buildings (barns) then continues fairly obviously.  One track heads towards the rocky edge of Middle Tongue but then drifts off right so leave it and make a steep, but easy, ascent up through the rocks on to the top of Middle Tongue.  A path then runs along the left of the crest.  Later on, the path fades and one then contours on a steep grassy slope which some will find unnerving, very much so under winter conditions.  If this is the case, go higher to less steep ground, where there is a better path, and walk NE until a wall is met with a stile over it.  If staying on the steep slopes, then, eventually, a short square pinnacle will be met on the line of the wall coming up from the valley.  By the pinnacle, the wall becomes a fence then a wall again higher up.  If wishing to continue contouring, then step over the fence and continue until the path from the stile over the wall is met.  To avoid crossing the fence, walk up the fence/wall for about 50 m and cross the stile.  However, you have got there, there is a good and obvious path along the top of the cliffs on the S side.  Follow this to the apex of the “V” where High Cup Gill enters High Cup Nick. This is the top of High Cup Nick.

(2) Cross High Cup Gill and follow the N side of High Cup Nick.  Follow a path near to the edge which, later, merges with the Pennine Way and heads roughly SW with some ascending and crossing a waterfall on the way.  Look for the ridge of Pt 446 which descends from the Pennine Way towards Harbour Flatt.  A stile is met lower down by a gate.  Go through and past the walls but then leave the Pennine Way and head toward the Pt 446 ridge, roughly SW from the gate.  A low fence needs to be crossed at a corner then one can ascend to Pt 446 on rough but easy terrain.  Continue down the ridge which gives excellent views up High Cup Nick.  Eventually, reach a wall crossing the lower ridge.  Beyond is a newly planted area of native trees so stay out of that.  A path goes right and can be followed down, roughly W, to a gate.  From here do not go to High Cup Gill as at least three barbed wire fences will have to be crossed.  Stay one field away from the gill, heading for the road.  This route becomes a track leading to the road, near a stone barn, passing through a few gates on the way.  It may not be a right of way!  Once on the road, turn left, SE, and follow it for about 400 m back to the start, soon crossing the bottom of High Cup Gill.  An alternative route from low on the Pt 446 ridge is to go left at the wall and descend down to cross High Cup Gill then pick up the outward route.  This alternative has not been checked out and the gill may be difficult to cross.


(a) This walk took place on 8th March, 2015.

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