Cross Fell walk

Cross Fell walkThe North Pennines is one of the remotest places in England. A high, wild, bleak landscape of heather moorland and blanket peat, it is sometimes referred to as ‘England’s last wilderness’. Cross Fell (above, far left) is the highest point in the Pennines and the highest point in England outside of the Lake District. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder here, but the stark scale of Cross Fell has its own unique attraction. At its western edge, the plateau ends in a steep escarpment, overlooking the lush green countryside of Eden Valley. The escarpment provides a dramatic backdrop to the attractive red sandstone-built villages at its foot. Despite being at the western edge of the Pennines the escarpment forms the watershed between east and west. The north eastern side of Cross Fell drops off more gently and is the source of two of the mighty rivers of England – the Tyne and the Tees. Cross Fell can be climbed from either the east – departing from the picturesque village of Garrigill on the banks of the South Tyne River, or the west – starting from the hamlet of Kirkland which lies in the shadow of the mountain. From Garrigill the route follows the southbound Pennine Way, a clear track across the wide flank of the fell comprising open heather moors and peatlands and past old lead mines. The summit of Cross Fell is stony, flat-topped, rather featureless and crowned by a cross-shaped dry-stone shelter. On a clear day there are excellent views from the summit across the Eden Valley to the mountains of the Lake District. There are also fine views across the Solway Firth to the southern uplands of Scotland. The Cheviots can also be seen from here. The highlight of a Cross Fell walk is the open ridge path that links the summit, Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell with its wonderful views across the Eden Valley to the Lake District. The decent is also a joy, returning via lonely Trout Beck and the South Tyne’s magnificent wooded gorges. The walk from Kirkland is a shorter route up Cross Fell’s more accessible side and gives a good flavour of the area. The walk can be extended to take in the ridge route to Little and Great Dun Fell although you will need to retrace your steps back along the ridge. On leaving Kirkland the track rises gently at first but steepens after Kirkland Beck with your goal in view for much of the way.