Dufton Pike and High Cup Nick

by David Murray on 30 June 2011

in Cumbria, Eden Valley

Since moving to the Eden Valley earlier this year I’ve often looked across from the Orton to Appleby road, or from the back road to Kirkby Stephen via Burrells and Soulby, and wondered about the North Pennine fells beyond the A66. The shapes of the hills themselves, the patterns of light and shade from moving clouds and from the changing angles of the sun, as well as the mystery of the unknown slowly built a fascination in my mind.

Yesterday, following my visit to Brougham Castle and Acorn Bank herb garden, I drove along some of the country lanes beyond Long Marton to get a first taste, passing through villages such as Newbiggin, Milburn and Knock. This morning I ventured further east to Hilton, Murton and Dufton. In the near future I must exchange the rubber of car tyres for walking boots but for the moment I’m simply getting myself oriented to what is for me a newly discovered, unexplored countryside – and, of course, exercising the camera.

Dufton Pike from Keisley

One very noticeable feature of this landscape is the number of conical, or almost conical, hills fringing the North Pennines. Dufton Pike is probably the most noticeable of these. This shot was taken from the lane leading up to Town Head Farm, which now is home to High Cup Winery (photo below). I may write more about Town Head on another occasion but for now will just say that the combination of a winery, an art exhibition (currently local landscape art) and an excellent illustrated geological display make it well worth the effort of navigating the single-track lanes to reach it.

Town Head at Keisley in the Eden Valley - High Cup Winery

Why is the winery named “High Cup”? Well, it’s nothing to do with a cup of wine. It comes from the steep-sided valley behind, carved out of the Pennine rocks and known as “High Cup Gill”. Here it is in a shot taken a little earlier in the morning with a 135mm lens from between Appleby and Hilton.

High Cup Nick from near Hilton and Murton - Eden Valley - Cumbria

Many people think of Cumbria and the Lake District as more or less synonymous, but it isn’t quite so. At this point we’re outside the Lake District National Park, although the mountains are clearly visible to the southwest. We’re on the fringes of another wonderful area of very different landscape, the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). I’m certainly planning a lot more detailed exploration.

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