I have always enjoyed being out in the great outdoors walking and camping, but last year after i was starting to recover from my anxiety and depression, i realised i wasn’t doing enough of it. You should read my first blog “the beginning” for the slightly more filled out story, but lets just say i started to consume as much outdoor related media as possible. This included YouTube videos, various blogs and outdoor magazines. One of these magazines had a article about must camp places on the Pennine way, and the one that stood out for me the most was High cup gill. I remember thinking when i first saw the impressive glaciated U shaped valley in the magazine that i wanted to camp there, and awake to that glorious view.
So it was back in early April this year that the time had come for me to get that chance. (yes a whole month ago, i’m very lazy at my blog writing) So with my route planed i set off to the small village of Murton, which was nestled right up to the edge of the north pennines, but technically still in Cumbria. As luck would have it the village had a small car park which was also right next to the path i would be following. This meant i wouldn’t have to leave the car in the village streets, or so i thought….. Upon arriving at the car park i noticed a sign, this sign read, “no overnight parking or camping”, great!! i thought. I really didn’t want to have to leave it in the middle of the village, as its not great for me and certainly not good for the residents, who certainly don’t need my car blocking up their already narrow country village street. Thankfully i saw a man walking up with a dog, and i decided to asked him if he lived in the village, to which he replied yes. I explained to him my plight, and he said i should be fine to leave it overnight, and that really the sign is just to discourage people from camping there. These words were exactly what i wanted to hear, so i made my way into the empty car park and got my gear together. The route i planned was supposed to take me through the “Danger area”, the danger area being the military WARCOP training zone, used by the British army for live firing exercises. Unfortunately for me the red flag was flying, which, for those of you that don’t know, means you can’t enter as training is in operation. As i didn’t fancy being cannon fodder, i decided that i would just have to walk the route i was going to take back, instead of my original more circular route. So after recording a some footage for my video introduction, i finally set off at around 07:45, the path snaking upwards and around Murton pike. It was a beautiful morning, a virtually clear blue sky, dotted with the odd wispy cloud. After a few hundred meters or so of walking i turned around to admire the view of the village and to the sun rising out from behind the hills.
As i have mentioned in a previous blog, i have the ability to sweat in a freezer whilst walking, so the fact that i was wearing my coat whilst the sun was beaming down on me, meant my perspiration levels were going through the roof. There was only one thing for it, i had to stop. I swung my bag off my back, quickly took off my coat and fastened it securely under the lid of my rucksack. Feeling a lot cooler, i set back off. It was then i heard the first of the live firing exercises, the distant sound of gun fire echoing off the nearby hills. This sound was to punctuate much of my journey throughout the day. It wasn’t far to High cup gill from the village of Murton, around three and a half miles i clocked it at. So it wasn’t long before i had my first view of it, and a pretty spectacular sight it was, every bit and more as good as i had expected. Now as this had originally been my intended finish point, i didn’t want to head right up to it and spoil the evenings viewing. So instead, i joined the Pennine way path, and headed to what was originally my half way point and place of interest, the Cauldron snout waterfall. This part of the path was very easy going, level and well trodden, leaving the grass very flat, yet not muddy. At this point the sun was still shining brightly, but the wind had started to pick up now i was at a higher elevation. After about half a mile, i was walking with Maize beck around 100 yards to my left, and checking the map i saw that id have to be on the other side of it if i wanted to visit the Cauldron snout. I then looked for a crossing point, which i found on the map and promptly made my way towards it. Arriving at the side of the beck, i saw no evidence of a bridge or any stepping stones, but luckily it wasn’t very high so i decided to make a jump for it. I always find it a bit of a worry when crossing this way, just in case my foot slips on the jump and i end up in the water. Not this time though, as i made the jump and carried on my way. Once across i soon noticed that the going was no where near as good on this side. The path was a lot more over grown, with long grass and heather, and lots of really boggy sections, causing various detours to find slightly firmer areas. After around twenty minutes, i started to really hate the bogs, it made progress so much slower, and then from nowhere i was passed by two trail runners, carrying nothing but small bum bags. I immediately felt a bit jealous as i was carrying around 12kg. This soon passed though when i remembered that i cant run, and then normal service resumed. Well shortly after this, what should come into view but a bridge. It seemed that when i had checked the map earlier, i had missed a crossing point, and the last mile and a half of bog dodging could have been avoided….. Doh! Ah well, lesson learned, and on i went. From here the path got a lot better again, and without the bog dodging i could start to enjoy the views of the now widening Maize beck. After just over half a mile, the path started to peel away from the beck and started to go up the hillside. As the path started leveling out, it joined a wide gravel pathway, this was no doubt made to make life easier for the Grouse shooters and not walkers like myself. It was at this point i was caught up by a local family, who i had passed earlier going in the other direction. They were from a nearby village, of which i forget the name, and had been out to see High cup gill. The couple were out with one of their fathers, (i’m not sure whose) and their three dogs. We spent the next three to four miles chatting together as we followed the Pennine way, as they were heading back to Cow green reservoir, which is where the water comes from to feed the Cauldron snout waterfall. It was actually very nice to spend this section of the walk with company, and they were very friendly as we shared stories together on the trail. Well it wasn’t long before the dam wall of Cow green reservoir came into view, and as we crossed over bridge in front of it, i thanked them for putting up with me and bidded them farewell. I was really excited to get over the bridge and see the Cauldron snout waterfall, for a couple of reasons really, one being that it looked amazing on photographs whilst i researched the walk, hence why i came via it. Reason two was that it was roughly the half way point and i had designated it my lunch break and i was starving. I have since found out, that the Cauldron snout waterfall is reckoned to be the longest waterfall in the country at 180m. So with the awesome view that was Cauldron snout, i sat down in the great sunshine to eat, though it was still very windy, it was nice to finally sit down and relax after around 10 miles of walking. Whilst eating my lunch, i had made sure i was sat far enough back from the Cauldron snout, to avoid the fine mist of water that the high wind was blowing up from the cascading waterfall. Well lunch eaten, i took a few more pictures and decided to head back to High cup gill. My route back was the same as i had taken to the snout, the main differences being that i now had to do the big gravel path up hill, and worst of all, into the wind. Its amazing how much longer the path seems when walking into the wind, but it had to be done, so i got my head down and pressed out the next three miles or so. It was a welcome sight when i finally reached the point where i was back on the grass, as the path sloped back down towards the beck. Once along side Maize beck, i knew i only had perhaps another hour or so of walking, and it wasn’t long before the bridge i had missed on the way down came into view. I crossed over the bridge, happy in the knowledge that i wouldn’t have to avoid all the boggy ground like earlier in the day. The path on this side took a short and steady upwards climb, before leveling out. Soon high cup gill came into view, but before heading straight for it, i decided to detour back to the beck to fill up my water bladder. Using my sawyer water filter, this was easier said than done, as the water level was quite low. The low level meant i was unable to use the big bag to collect water, instead i had to use the smaller one that comes with the sawyer as standard, and fill it more times. Still it was a minor issue as i had made it back to High cup gill with plenty of time. Well with my water all filled up, i finished the final few hundred meters to an area that looked straight down High cup. It was a absolutely incredible view, every bit and more as grand as i had hoped. I placed my gear down onto the ground, and stood gazing in awe at the immense chasm in front of me, trying to imagine the vast amount of time it took, and how big the glacier must have been to create something of this size and scale. With the sky now cloudy, and a haze moving in, i did wish that i had come this close earlier to get some pictures when the sun was shining, but it was still amazing, even with the lower visibility. After a good long viewing and a quick snack bar, the time was around 16:30, i didn’t expect any more walkers passing through, as i’d hardly seen any all day anyway, so i decided to set up my tent. It didn’t take me much time to set up my tent, inflate my airbed and get my sleeping bag out, having used the gear for a while, i now have a good routine. My tent had only been up for mere minutes, when the already high but bearable wind, decided to increase massively. It was like the weather somehow knew i’d set my tent up, and was trying to remove any evidence of it being there. Every large gust of wind was bending the single tent pole in to a very unnatural positions, and all but flattening the side. I tried my best to do a bit of filming, but the wind was making it extremely hard to do any panning shots, and trying to talk to camera was just a pointless exercise, leaving only wind noise to be heard. I decided to sit in the tent for a while hoping that the wind would die down. The longer it went on, the less likely it seemed the wind would go. I remember checking the met office weather forecast before leaving home, and it certainly didn’t mention any gales like this. Phone signal in the area was all but non existent, but when i did briefly get it, i checked the weather app on my phone and it had the gale symbol until 12 the next day. That’s great i thought. Well after around an two hours of listening to my tent whipping and cracking, and seeing the tent nearly bending itself in half, i had pretty much decided to pack up and leave. I did think about relocating, and i had a little wander around looking for somewhere more sheltered, but it wasn’t to be. The area was very exposed, and everywhere i went, the wind was just as bad. So that settled it, i went into the tent and packed everything back into my bag, just leaving the tent on its own. Now this was the fun part, anyone whose ever tried to pack a tent away in the wind will know exactly what i’m talking about. Needless to say it took me quite a while to pack it away, and if you would have seen me, you would most likely of had a good laugh at my expense. Finally i was ready to head back to my car, i was quite sad to leave, this place was somewhere i had been wanting to camp for a long time, and i’d really wanted to wake up to the glorious view that was High cup gill. It wasn’t to be this time, and at around 19:00, i set off on the final three and a half miles to the car. The wind was so strong on the way back, that when it was hitting my legs i was almost tripping myself up. As i followed the length of High cup, i took one last look at it, before the path turned away, taking me back to the village of Murton. The light was starting to fade now, so i did my best to get back to the car as quick as possible. On the way back i took a disappointed look at Murton pike, i did have plans to get to the top of it the next morning, but i wasn’t about to tackle it now, so it would have to wait for another time. Well soon enough, the village came into sight, and i made may way down to the car park. I packed my gear in the boot and got in the car, and now with signal, made a phone call to my partner to inform her that id be home tonight. I felt i’d made the right decision to leave, but i still felt really rubbish about it, i just wish the conditions could have been different, or if i had a more stable tent, perhaps i could have stayed. Well there will always be a next time, and i will definitely be returning in the future, and to be honest , i cant wait.
So here ends another blog, i hope you enjoyed reading about my oh so nearly camp. I still had a truly awesome time, and i was very happy to see Cauldron snout waterfall, and the super impressive High cup gill. If you have read this far, thank you very much, and also a massive thanks to all who follow this blog, it really means a lot that you are entertained by my ramblings. As always a video of this story is on my YouTube channel (link on side menu under social) So until next time goodbye.