High Cup Nick is a glacial valley situated near the village of Dufton, in Cumbria, on the western edge of the Pennines. The Pennine Way literally passes along the edge of the valley. I’ve read that is considered a geological wonder, and I would have to totally agree. For me, it is like The Roaches, one of England’s natural wonders. The valley is an almost perfectly symmetrical ‘U’ shape that I have never seen before.
My start point was a car park right in the middle of the village of Dufton. The car park is free with a well kept public convenience, excellent I thought. From the car park you head east towards ‘Town Head’ as marked on the Ordnance Survey map. Where the road dips is a turn to the right. This is the Pennine Way, and the route to High Cup Nick.
The route starts as a narrow road, leading to Bow Hall, and then a dirt track up past Dod Hill. At this point, without realising it, I had already gained a fair amount of height and had a nice view to the west and the Lake District Fells.
As you approach the disused quarry, below Peeping Hill, you start to get glimpses of High Cup Nicks distinct features.
On reaching the section of path known as ‘Narrow Gate’, you are treated to some spectacular views of High Cup Nick. Words aren’t enough, and photographs just don’t do it justice.
Near ‘Hannah’s Well’ the path gets a little more involved, although there is a narrow path that continues to run right along the edge of the valley.
Near the shake holes it is really worth keeping an eye out for Nichol Chair, a rock pinnacle that is one of High Cup Nick’s iconic features. A scramble down a slope will allow better access for photos, but be careful if it is wet. There will be a substantial drop at the edge.
Heading around to High Cup Nick Head and I could see a boulder field heading up to the ‘head’ from the valley bottom. This is one that has been filed away for a future second visit, with a scramble up the boulder field planned.
Looking back down the edge of the valley another, un-named pinnacle, is visible. The structure of the valley is very interesting and highly photographic.
Once at the ‘Head’ I tried for a panorama shot and more detailed photographs of the boulder field. I’m really looking forward to the scramble up the field in the future.
The return journey was a reverse of the route up. The walk had taken me just over 3 hours with a distance of around 8.5 miles. I had planned my day due to other activities, so time was limited. But I plan to return and spend a little more time in the area. And that scramble.