North Pennine Walks
Date: 22nd May 2010
Distance: 13.8 miles
Ascent: 2953 feet
Time: 7 hours 40 minutes
With: Matt and Laura
Start Grid Ref: NY655293
A fairly long but rewarding walk up to Cross Fell, the highest summit in the Pennines and the highest mountain in England outside of the Lake District.
Route Summary: Milburn - Wythwaite - Kirkland Hall - Stoop Band - Cross Fell - Little Dun Fell - Great Dun Fell - Silver Band - Mudgill Sike - Milburn
1. By Milburn village green looking up to Cross Fell
2. Crowdundle Beck
3. Wildboar Nook
4. Black Doors at the head of Ardale
5. The mountain bothy on Stoop Band
6. Cross Fell from Ironwell Band
7. Matt climbing up a patch of snow
8. Looking north towards Melmerby Fell
9. On the summit of Cross Fell
10. The trig point on Cross Fell
11. Little Dun Fell
12. Laura climbing Little Dun Fell with Cross Fell behind
13. The top of Little Dun Fell looking to Great Dun Fell
14. A frog
15. The Great Dun Fell Radar Station
16. The highest tarmaced road in England
17. Looking back up to Cross Fell
18. Burney Hill
Walk Detail: This was the walk where we finally got round to climbing Cross Fell, the highest summit in the Pennines and the highest mountain in England outside of the Lake District.
It was a bright sunny day, as well as the hottest day of the year up to that point. While the heat wasn't too bad on the dull but necessary section between Milburn and Kirkland once we started climbing the bridleway above Ardale it became quite energy sapping. In an area notorious for the Helm Wind there wasn't so much as a hint of a breeze to offer any respite from the sun.
Fortunately the more height we gained the cooler it became and by the time we reached the small bothy on Stoop Band there was finally a refreshing breeze.
The upper western flank of Cross Fell is covered in a rash of boulders and surprisingly there were still large patches of snow amongst the rocks. Upon reaching the snow I took full advantage of its presence by putting a handful under my hat and and another handful down the back of my neck. It cooled me down wonderfully as I completed the final scramble over the rocks and on to the summit plateau.
The summit of Cross Fell proved to be quite extensive with the main features being a large cross shaped shelter on the summit, a trig point and numerous curricks dotted about. The view should have been tremendous but the sunshine was rather hazy and perhaps the one disappointing aspect of the walk was that we didn't get the long distance views we'd hoped for.
Having eaten our lunch at the summit we set off for what proved to be a surprisingly easy ridge walk over Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell. The relative lack of rain over the previous month or so meant that the ground was exceptionally dry underfoot. Perhaps the highlight of this section of the walk was the summit of Little Dun Fell where as you approach the summit cairn an optical illusion makes the radar station on Great Dun Fell look quite close on continuously flat ground.
When we did reach the summit of Great Dun Fell it felt quite strange to finally be by the radar station which I'd seen so many times from a long distance away. The summit had a certain novely value, as did the initial descent along the access road, but in truth it wasn't a particularly inspiring place.
The descent from Great Dun Fell to Milburn was almost six miles in length. While this had the potential to be dull and drawn out it was in fact quite pleasant and would have been even better had we been able to see the Lake District ahead of us.
After I'd had my knee operation in December 09 I'd made a plan of which walks I wanted to complete when my knee was strong enough and this walk was the top of the list so I felt a real sense of satisfaction in completing this. The fact that it was also one of the most important Pennine summits made it all the sweeter.