The North Pennines
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Dufton in the Eden Valley - the Pennines behind.
The Pennine Way is one of the best known walks in England and is described in many books in varying degrees of detail.
It is 270 miles long and stretches from Edale near the cities of Manchester and Sheffield, up through Cumbria, Northumberland and eventually just over the border into Scotland where it ends.
Here we deal only with the Cumbrian section of the Pennine Way. Traditionally the route is walked south to north, and for this reason we begin our description from the Pennine Way's entry into the county from the south
The Pennine Way enters Cumbria at the south end of Cow Green Reservoir (OS ref: NY 814288, sheet 91).
From there you walk across the fells to Maize Beck.
Follow the beck until you see cairns (markers built of stone, usually large and easily seen) on either bank, marking the best crossing point when the beck is not in full flow.
The path here will take you to the head of the spectacular High Cup Nick, a dramatic valley that cuts into the Pennines, with steep sides topped by crags from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Eden Valley and across to the Lake District Fells.
The view from Hartside Pass over the Eden Valley
From here continue along the north edge of High Cup, following the path to Dufton village in the Eden Valley where you can take refreshment or buy provisions before carrying on. From Dufton you can if you wish walk up to Dufton Pike, one of three conical pikes on the skirts of the Pennines in this area.
From Dufton the Pennine Way leads up to Knock Fell (2,604ft/794m), Cross Fell can be clearly seen ahead and is approached via Great Dun Fell (2,780ft/847m) with its weather station, clearly visible from the Eden Valley and even further west.
Soon you pass the source of the River Tees on your right as you begin your ascent of Cross Fell (2,930ft/893m) the highest summit of the Pennines.
Cross Fell was visited, allegedly, by St Augustine who erected a cross to ward off the Devil and so gave the fell its name.
Not far to the north is Fiends Fell, so perhaps the Saint was not too successful.
The South Tyne Valley
From Cross Fell you leave the views of the Eden Valley behind and descend east to the village of Garrigill and then Alston. Both places offer refreshment.
Alston Moor and the South Tyne Valley offer spectacular scenery.
In addition to the Pennine Way there are many other pleasant walks around the area as well as attractions for the visitor who prefers a less strenuous day out.
Places to visit in the North Pennines include the South Tyndale Railway, Nenthead Mines Heritage Centre and the highest golf course in England.
The narrow gauge steam railway at Alston
There are many more reasons to visit this beautiful area, indeed the main road that runs from Penrith to Alston, the A686, was included in the AA Magazine's "The World's 10 Great Drives".
From Alston the Way runs along the South Tyne Valley following the river across the county boundary into Northumberland, two or so miles to the north, and on to Greenhead and across the Roman Wall into Scotland.