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High Cup Nick/Murton Fell

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 TobyA 24 Jun 2024

I had a lovely family hike yesterday up from Murton, to Murton Pike then contoured around Murton Fell to High Cup Nick and descended there back to the beginning. 

Up high, as you contour around Murton Fell and before you drop down to the head of High Cup Nick, I could see two what looks like stone pillars out in the moor. I don't think they were industrial - like chimneys or mine shaft air vents. But they also seemed to be too randomly placed to be memorials, statues or that sort of thing. Does anyone know what they are? The 1:25000 map marks "curricks", but I googled them and that's just a North Pennine term for a pile of stones, so I don't think they are that. 

I first wondered if they might be a pillar to mark the highest point on Murton Fell - the 1:50000 marks both the north and south high points as 673 metres, but the 1:25000 has the southern point as higher at 675! These mystery pillars were closer to or around the northern point. I would have wondered over and had a closer look but was with my family, and child 3 (6 and a big bit) was by this point suggesting every little hole or bluff was a good place for a picnic and clearly not about to walk another km across a rough moor! 

P.S. High Cup Nick is spectacular. If you have been: amazing isn't it?! If you haven't - it's amazing! Go take a look! Even children 1 and 2, relatively cynical young men (20 and 18) seemed quite impressed! 

Post edited at 14:04

In reply to TobyA:

There's a few very tall cairns along on Cross Fell and northwards too. I don't know the origin but did wonder if it was anything to do with miners? Quite a lot of workings up there, small scale stuff from back in the day. 

High Cup is one of the really unique big scale scenic wonders of England, up there with Malham Cove and... um... OK I ran out. Maybe England's not over-endowed with genuinely distinctive big landscape scale stuff. But HC is a cracker.

I've always known it as just High Cup, I understood the Nick refers only to the bit right at the head (a nick in the skyline). Think I got that from Wainwright. Graham seems to agree:

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/logbook/r/?i=1331

What do locals say?

 johnlc 24 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

Everything I am about to say may be wrong but High Cup is a dolerite (sort of igneous rock) sill (an intrusion of molten rock between the layers of pre-existing strata).  It extends right out to the Farne Islands in Northumbria and is the reason for the hydrothermal veins which gave all of the Northern Pennine lead mining industry.

Please do correct me if I am wrong.

Wonderful countryside.

1
OP TobyA 24 Jun 2024
In reply to Jon Read:

Bingo! Yep, that has to be them. They look older and more rickety in the photo than from a distance but that's them. Cheers!

 Lankyman 24 Jun 2024
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

> There's a few very tall cairns along on Cross Fell and northwards too. I don't know the origin but did wonder if it was anything to do with miners? Quite a lot of workings up there, small scale stuff from back in the day. 

There are many well built, tall cairns all around the North Pennines and nearby Yorkshire Dales and the word 'currick' is often used for them. I think they're more likely a bad weather location marker for shepherds or shooters rather than miners as they're often well above and beyond where the main lead mining workings are (eg Scordale nearby, well worth a visit when the Warcop ranges aren't active!). There are small scale coal workings in places but the lead was the main issue. I think the 'currick' word may be a memory of the Old Welsh language 'carreg' as in nearby Carrock Fell and Castle Carrock?

> High Cup is one of the really unique big scale scenic wonders of England, up there with Malham Cove and... um... OK I ran out. Maybe England's not over-endowed with genuinely distinctive big landscape scale stuff.

Just because Scotland got sent home early doesn't mean you can diss our scenic wonders!  High Cup is but one integral part of the massive East Fellside which also has Britain's only named wind.

>But HC is a cracker.

OK, I'll let you off

> I've always known it as just High Cup, I understood the Nick refers only to the bit right at the head

According to the OS the valley is 'High Cup Gill' and the slot at the very head is 'High Cup Nick'. It's a hike up (oof!) whichever way you go.

OP TobyA 24 Jun 2024
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

> High Cup is one of the really unique big scale scenic wonders of England, up there with Malham Cove and... um... OK I ran out. Maybe England's not over-endowed with genuinely distinctive big landscape scale stuff. But HC is a cracker.

I also thought of Malham as a comparative 'scene' child 2 said "it's a bit like Mam Tor" couldn't see it myself - he maybe meant looking down into Edale from up there, nice but not as dramatic. I've not been down in the SW in a long time but maybe some of the huge cliffs on the north Cornish and Devon coast compete for grandeur?

Interestingly, Wikipedia calls it High Cup Gill, but says High Cup and High Cup Nick are all acceptable! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Cup_Gill Weird. Visit Cumbria has it as HCN on their website - not sure if that's semi official?

 Lankyman 24 Jun 2024
In reply to johnlc:

> Everything I am about to say may be wrong but High Cup is a dolerite (sort of igneous rock) sill (an intrusion of molten rock between the layers of pre-existing strata).  It extends right out to the Farne Islands in Northumbria and is the reason for the hydrothermal veins which gave all of the Northern Pennine lead mining industry.

> Please do correct me if I am wrong.

> Wonderful countryside.

Don't forget the Whin Sill that Hadrian's Wall sits on and the Tees waterfalls at Cauldron Snout and High Force (where I was a few days ago).

 Tom Valentine 24 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

Slept out in the entrance to an old mine right on the rim of HCN when I did the Pennine Way. A very atmospheric solo bivvy.

 wercat 24 Jun 2024
In reply to Tom Valentine:

I first looked down into High cup Nick over 50 years ago (summer 71) on a very hot day during a school camp at Warcop.  We made our way up through the ranges seeing amazing sights like old Churchill and Comet tanks, rising as it seemed out of history, and later through ground strewed about with munitions, some clearly unexploded  (when a little older I helped add to these by lobbing 25 pounder radar fuzed shells around as part of a gun crew some weekends).

Getting up on to the higher bits of Mickle Fell we wandered over and looked down into one of the most jaw-dropping sights of my life up to that point, High Cup Nick.

Wandered about up there as an Eden Valley resident in more recent decades and I've been told by more than one local that that area is notorious for people getting lost in bad/misty weather, either on the Pennine Way or on shorter outings, so direction/way off markers might be not so far wrong.  If you don't get off the Helm Wind will strew your bleach'd bones across the fell!

 Iain Brown 24 Jun 2024
In reply to wercat:

I would certainly agree with Lankyman above on the curricks being old marker cairns. Some are very well constructed and in distinctive positions.

As a sort of local (Teesdale side), its always been High Cup Nick in my experience, and in folklore. This may be as much to with it being the key landmark crossing from Teesdale over to the Eden valley which is an old way through the hills. The experience on reaching the edge of the chasm and a transformation from world to another I would say makes it one of the greatest hill passes of the UK (Lairig Ghru, gates of Affric ...etc.).

So a famous landmark as well as remarkable landform.

 petegunn 24 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

A magical spot! The northern Pennines are well worth exploring, especially in summer away from the Lakes!


 Tom Valentine 24 Jun 2024
In reply to wercat:

"No, not tonight,

Not by this fading light, 

Not by those high fells where the forces

Fall from the mist like the white tails of horses."

is the opening verse to Andrew Young's lovely little poem called In Teesdale 

In reply to Lankyman:

Haha, mixed reactions to the football in this house. Identity politics alive and well in the younger generation it seems (for better or, I suspect, worse).

Love the North Pennines 

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/destinations/north_pennines_-_englan...

OP TobyA 25 Jun 2024
In reply to wercat:

> Wandered about up there as an Eden Valley resident in more recent decades 

I don't want to totally derail my own thread on the beauty of the Northern Pennines, but as a politics geek and teacher I did notice in Murton hamlet, and then down in Appleby where we went to buy ice creams after, a fair number of "Tim Farron - winning here" posters in windows. I don't think I saw any other party posters. Being a politics geek, I listen to pretty much every episode of The Rest Is Politics with Campbell and Stewart and I also read Stewart's book earlier this year - so whenever I'm on the A66 I think of Stewart talking about promising and failing to "dual" the A66 all the way from the A1 (M) to the M6. So, did Stewart's old constituency have until the other week another Tory MP? Would High Cup (Gill/Nick delete as appropriate) have been in that constituency? And are the Lib Dems going to steam roller in next week? Will the Tories keep hold of the whatever the other bit of that old constituency has become - the bit that goes up to the Scottish border?

 wercat 25 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

We're waiting to see what happens now we've been "divided and conquered".  We have been moved from having local government based in Carlisle (CCC) to Kendal linked to Barrow.

Our strongly conservative Penrith and the Borders (waste of vote unless Tory) has been split and our bit moves into Tim Farron's constituency so on the one hand we have someone realistic to vote for now but on the other hand he is "gaining" loads of traditionally conservative voters who could dilute Farron's vote though I expect some to go Reform.  I am curious to see what happens and I hope it ends well for Farron who is an excellent and hard working constituency MP.

Wait and See for us.  We've been thrown into a local government and constituency blender.  You meet some people who even think Cumbria is no longer a county, though obviously only since the 1970s shake-up.

Incidentally I noted a living history "storyteller" making the usual mistake in a tale of WW2 PoWs having them "sent up to Cumbria".  Well researched story as they stole a plane impersonating Polish RAF pilots and flew to Norfolk where they were entertained by the RAF to continue their flight the next day until apparently the RAF were alerted by the report of the Cumbria escape being on the evening TV news!!!

I did mention these primary school anachronistic errors to one of the organisers. (WW2 event at Brougham Hall - scene decades earlier of a visit by Eisenhower and Churchill inter alia to have a demonstration of a new secret weapon. (CDL Tanks)

Post edited at 13:36
 Iain Brown 25 Jun 2024
In reply to wercat:

Back on thread 1 (but good to see the return of Westmoreland!) I wrote a book on the N Pennines a few years ago and I included this quote from James Backhouse's 1898 book with a shepherd lad's description of the way to High Cup Nick from upper Teesdale:

'Well, gang ower t'moor and ye'll come ti a greeart goolf, and it opens out inter toother country'

I wrote the book partly in response to David Bellamy's book (and TV program I think) which characterised the N Pennines as 'England's Last Great Wilderness'. As others have also described up-thread there are many many relics of the past on these fells that show the area had much more human activity in the past and (as with some other areas of the UK) this can add an extra fascination to the landscape and its interpretation.

 wintertree 25 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

Some curricks in the north pennies are very slim and tall compared to other cairns, eg the “three curricks” in Muggleswick park.

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/three-curricks.html?sortBy=relevant

> P.S. High Cup Nick is spectacular. If you have been: amazing isn't it?! If you haven't - it's amazing!

Standing at the bottom of the scree looking down the valley, if you looks slightly down it’s easy to imagine oneself enveloped in the endlessly curved valley of an O’Niel cylinder.  Fantastic place.

 wintertree 25 Jun 2024
In reply to Lankyman:

> Don't forget the Whin Sill that Hadrian's Wall sits on and the Tees waterfalls at Cauldron Snout and High Force (where I was a few days ago).

Also Low Force, my favourite swimming hole.  You can swim endlessly in the outflow of the bowl of the left falls, just dodging the jumpers/divers and canoes.  When getting out one is reminded that Whin Sill is slippy when wet.

 ablackett 25 Jun 2024
In reply to Iain Brown:

Have you got a link to the book? 

 wercat 25 Jun 2024
In reply to Iain Brown:

I just looked it up - it looks a great read.  I grew up in Stanhope - David Bellamy visited us once up on Crawleyside to go looking for frogs toads and newts with my sister in the local quarry pools

 ablackett 25 Jun 2024
In reply to ablackett:

Just found it.

http://summaryhouse.co.uk/?page_id=141

any chance I could find a way to buy a copy without posting a cheque? I’ll be at St John’s Chapel for the Chapelfelltop fell race in a couple of weeks time which my wife organises of you want to try and sell a few there?

 EarlyBird 26 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

I’ve been - wanted to see it for years. 


 Iain Brown 27 Jun 2024
In reply to ablackett:

Many thanks for interest in the N Pennines book (the referencing web pages are a bit awry at the moment due to the site updating to a new version of Wordpress and me not catching up). 

Very happy to send a copy on approval to anyone that is interested. Just PM me  and we'll sort something out! Same for St. John's - the fell race sounds good! 

Apologies for delayed reply I was out on Cross Fell yesterday and back lateish. Beautiful red lichen on the summit boulderfields - I'll see if I can upload a photo later.

And nice to hear the David Bellamy anecdote. He lived fairly local and, although I disagreed strongly with some of his views in later life, I still rememeber the overall positives. 

 Iain Brown 27 Jun 2024
In reply to Iain Brown:

As mentioned above, photo of the red algae/lichen on Cross Fell (possibly Trentepohlia ???). Natural history is another distinctive feature of the N Pennines.


 wintertree 27 Jun 2024
In reply to Iain Brown:

I had a great walk for lichen last year around Bollihope, let down a bit by not having a decent camera. Good excuse to go for another walk there…


 Pete Pozman 28 Jun 2024
In reply to TobyA:

Nine Standards Rigg is an example on the Westmorland-Yorkshire boundary. There are some further south in Swaledale. Maybe the miners were just doing that  little stacks of stones thing you see everywhere nowadays? Except, being rock-hard workers, they did it properly. Working class Andy Goldsworthys?

 wercat 05 Jul 2024
In reply to TobyA:

Good result from our new MP Farron.  I was a bit despondent when we were told that his seat now would have been a Tory seat in the last election as there are a lot of Tory/Reform types round here.  Also concerned because this is an area where people got social media messages specifically tailored to their personal lives that turned people into Brexit voters after they had been totally undecided and uninformed up to that point.


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