The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Saturday 20 July: Holwick Scars to Appleby

Looking at the photos we took, this day was dominated by High Cup Nick, which is funny in that it wasn’t on our intended route!

The day had started even earlier than is our norm. The 5am alarm was to achieve the dual purpose of giving us the relative cool of the early morning for our big climb of the day, and to make sure we reached Appleby in time for an afternoon train. As it happened, we didn’t need the early start for the purposes of heat avoidance. There had been a change in the weather overnight, and we awoke to find ourselves in a heavily-mizzling cloud (pity I had left my porch door tied back – there was something of a dampness where the mizzle had come through the mesh).


I can’t think of seeing a more impressive stile before! We came upon this one just below Holwick Scars.

The cloud had lifted by the time we had climbed up Cronkley Fell, and there was promise that the sun may yet burst through. False promise, as it turned out, but it didn’t detract from how nice our surroundings were and we were thankful that we weren’t baking in the heat of the previous days.

Any number of good potential pitches were spotted as we approached and went over Cronkley Fell, but considering that we were passed by three farmers on quad bikes before 7am, I would recommend an early start if wild-camping in the area.

Down the other side of the fell, we reached the Tees and had two options: to cross to rejoin the Pennine Way, or to stay on the south bank. We opted to cross, and choosing to do so at a wide point, the water didn’t come above our knees:


Having crossed the river and rejoined the Pennine Way, past Cauldron Snout we went. Thanks to being fed by the reservoir, it wasn’t suffering from the lack of water we had witnessed everywhere else:


The lower section of Cauldron Snout


And the upper section

Not long after Cauldron Snout we were due to leave the Pennine Way again to head down Scordale, but on the spur of the moment decided to go to High Cup Nick and see if the right of way that descends down its centre really exists as a feasible path.

Provided that the weather is providing a bit of visibility, High Cup Nick is always worth a visit, and once Mick had scouted out the start of the path down, we sat overlooking it for a while, soon joined by another backpacker who was heading south. He was the second person we had seen out walking since I had set out from Ribblehead on Wednesday (this was Saturday late morning).


After a bit of a chat, and having frittered away some more time (we had four hours left to walk the last six miles) off down the ridiculously-steep path we headed. It starts with a bit of a mild scramble:



The scrambly bit didn’t strike me as being as precarious as the next grassy bit. If you took a tumble there you’d tumble quite a way. There are, however, steps worn into the grass, and with the ground being so dry, it was easy to stay on our feet as we made our way down to less-steep ground. Looking back, it doesn’t look at all a feasible route:


The next obstacle course is a boulder field, which is made more interesting by the number of nettles and thistles growing tall between the boulders. We ran the gauntlet and came out with all bones intact and our legs prickle and nettle-rash free.


Continuing the time-killing, we took advantage of a brief period of sun which coincided with us coming alongside the beck, to sit down for a cooked lunch. The surroundings were about as good as you can get for a lunch break.


With the sun having gone away again, the breeze having picked up and lunch having been eaten, off we went, soon warming back up as we climbed over the shoulder of the far end of Middle Tongue, to make our way via tracks and lanes to Appleby.

Thanks to the breaks we had taken we timed our arrival reasonably well with just half an hour to wait for a train back south.

Our stats for the final day were 18 miles walked with 2600’ of ascent, in pleasantly cool walking weather.

It had been a splendid outing. Every time I set foot on the Pennine Way I’m taken with how nice it is, and the alternative routes we took on this outing were equally pleasing. Even when I was flagging, slogging up hill in the heat, I could appreciated that it was a far better place to be than in an office.

Incidentally, I bought Mick a return ticket from Appleby, so he’s got thirty days to go back to continue his way northwards.


  1. Those who knock the Pennine way when asked always seem to have not walked it. I loved it. Great walk. Must do it again one day.

    1. I know someone who walked it and really didn't like it. I'd really like her to walk it again (without a 26kg pack(!) and in reasonable weather) and I'm sure even she would see how lovely it is.

  2. One day I must do the whole Pennine way. The walk from Dufton to Appleby has never been a favourite of mine.

    1. The only real appeal of that walk into Appleby is the presence of the train station!

  3. I submit, that really is the best of stiles,

    Cheers J.P.

    1. And I didn't even go over it (why would you when there's a perfectly serviceable gate alongside?).

  4. What a great stile! I haven't commented for ages, so just thought I'd let you know I'm still reading your blog, and have been doing some far-less-strenuous walks down south myself.

    1. Hello Karen! It's been a long time. I was wondering just a couple of weeks ago what had become of you, and now that I look I realise that the fault was mine in not changing my RSS reader when you re-located your blog. I shall go and fix that right now!