North-east from the village of Milburn to Silverband Mine, followed by a U-shaped walk to the summit of Great Dun Fell. North-west on the Pennine Way to Little Dun Fell and Cross Fell, then south-west via A Pennine Journey to Kirkland. Using minor roads it’s over to Blencarn and finally south-east back to Milburn. A 15-mile walk in the North Pennines.
The best map to use on this walk is the Ordnance Survey map of the North Pennines, reference OS Explorer OL31, scale 1:25,000. It clearly displays footpaths, rights of way, open access land and vegetation on the ground, making it ideal for walking, running and hiking. The map can be purchased from Amazon in either a standard, paper version or a weatherproof, laminated version, as shown below.
From left to right, the snow-covered mountains of Cross Fell, Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell.
The view down to Mudgill Sike. According to Dictionary.com, a sike is ‘a gully or ditch, especially one that fills with water after a heavy rain’. A very apt definition – it was very boggy and difficult to cross.
Looking north towards Cross Fell.
The view south-west over to Burney Hill.
Cross Fell remains in view as I climb the difficult slopes near Hanging Shaw.
To the west and south-west the fells of the Lake District are just visible.
Shake holes and spoil heaps are numerous as I approach the disused Silverband Mine area below Great Dun Fell.
Cross Fell as seen from Silver Band.
Spoil heaps on the south-western slopes of Great Dun Fell, the result of a once very busy lead mining industry.
One of several ponds on the site of the disused Silverband Mine.
The view over to Green Fell, with Knock Ore Gill below. The tarmac road running along the side of the mountain allows vehicular access to the radar station on Great Dun Fell.
The route to the top of Great Dun Fell.
Looking up at the radar station ‘golf ball’.
The highest road in England, leading to the Great Dun Fell summit.
Visible at the top of the road, a man about to have some fun on his snowboard.
A few pictures of the radar station at the top of Great Dun Fell, height 848 metres (2782 feet).
The last time I was here the weather was horrendous, in particular very strong winds and thick fog. Visibility was so poor I couldn’t see this huge ‘golf ball’ even from just a few metres away. Today the weather was almost magical. It was amazingly calm, clear and warm, and I spent quite a lot of time up here enjoying the experience.
The view north-west from Great Dun Fell to Little Dun Fell and Cross Fell. The Pennine Way joins the summits of these three mountains and the crossing, although a little strenuous, is usually fairly straightforward. The path is well-defined and parts of it are paved with flagstones. However, when snow covers the path the walk is more difficult because you’re never quite sure whether you have hard or boggy ground underfoot. For me, the snow was not compact enough to take my weight, so with almost every step I was sinking into the snow and the water or mud below it.
The barren and remote landscape of the North Pennines on the north-east side of Great Dun Fell.
The summit of Little Dun Fell, height 842 metres (2762 feet).
Shelter on the summit of Little Dun Fell filled with snow.
Boulders on Little Dun Fell.
The first of two large cairns on the south-east approach to the Cross Fell summit. It can be seen from a distance and helpfully marks the route of the Pennine Way.
The second of two large cairns on the south-east approach to the Cross Fell summit.
The summit of Cross Fell, height 893 metres (2930 feet). Cross Fell is the highest mountain in England outside the Lake District.
Shelter and seating area on Cross Fell completely filled with snow.
Boulders at Stoop Band as I descend Cross Fell and head west on A Pennine Journey.
Heading down Cross Fell on A Pennine Journey. The sun’s rays look amazing.
Another definition of a sike according to Dictionary.com is ‘a small stream’. Gregory’s Sike flows through the middle of this valley. The area at the top of the valley where there is exposed rock and scree is called Black Doors.
Gregory’s Sike meanders through the valley and becomes Ardale Beck lower down.
Looking east in the direction of Cross Fell, but it is now hidden by Wildboar Nook.
Wildboar Nook (the hill) and Kirkdale (the valley).