North Pennines

Present: Claire (organiser), Alan, Sarah, Adriana, Paula, Maika, Dave H, Andrea, Keyna, Ange, Mick, and Ayla

For a bank holiday weekend it wasn’t a bad haul up the M6, almost arriving at the campsite before darkness. For a change, instead of turning left off the M6 in Cumbria and heading for the Lakes, we turned right, spending the weekend at a small friendly campsite in the quaint village of Dufton, ideally located for walks into the high Pennines. What was noticeable on our arrival though was the rather blustery wind, which made putting up some of the larger tents rather challenging.

The wind was still present in the morning, and Dave had already dismantled his tent, not trusting its durability a second longer after a rather sleepless night. This resulted in an accommodation reshuffle before setting off on our long 18 mile walk for the day.

The wind didn’t let up, as we followed the Pennine Way from Dufton up Great Dun Fell (848m), Little Dun Fell (842m) and the high point of the Pennines, Cross Fell (893m). We found shelter along the way ranging from derelict farmhouses, stone walls, and purpose built shelters. The views were good though, and no rain! Our route back took us through farmland and villages, mostly out the wind by now, but alas no tea or icecream shops or pubs.

On the 18-mile walk.

A very breezy stop!

A mammoth BBQ session followed, complete with champagne to celebrate Andrea’s birthday, although most of it ended up showering her. Adriana won the “most sausages on one plate” prize. We then retired to Mick & Ange’s huge tent, where most people cuddled up and fell asleep.



A slightly later start on Sunday, and our first challenge was to get up Dufton Pike (481m) in gale force winds. Only Alan, Dave, Keyna and Maika made it to the summit – for most it was 1 step forward, 3 steps back, or, in Adriana’s case just roll backwards then crawl along on all fours. (For incontrovertible proof, just take a look at the short video below. Sound required for the best effect.)

After that entertainment, it was a case of battling on against the wind up the quarry track, where we eventually took shelter in a gravel store. From there the route was surprisingly pleasant (i.e. out of the wind) following a small beck to the magnificent High Cup Nick. Yes, it was windy, but the view was amazing.

The evening was spent in the local pub, The Stag Inn, before retiring to Sarah’s tent for a bottle of Cointreau. Ayla then managed to scream the campsite down, and wake all the local dogs, but luckily most of us were too tired to be bothered.

On Monday, it seemed that the wind had finally passed, so taking the tents down was a doddle – and they were bone dry. Some of us then headed off to the Howgill Fells for a short walk before heading home. However, after climbing to the top of Cautley Spout, we discovered the wind had not at all passed. On the top of the Howgills it was the strongest we’d experienced all weekend. We took shelter in a ditch, and then decided to go for the summit – only to battle our way up one hill to discover the true summit was in the opposite direction. We eventually bagged The Calf (676m) and headed down as quickly as possible, back to the waterfall, and out of the wind. And amazingly enough, another traffic free journey back to Newbury, where it had rained most of the weekend!

High Cup Nick.

Clinging on at The Calf.

Claire White

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