BB0816 :  High Cup Nick: The Gurt La'al Canyon

Wednesday 7th May 2008

Two things to report before getting down to the main business.

First, on 26th April, Jamie and his pals completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks in a very respectable one minute under ten hours, all 24 miles and 5,200 feet or thereabouts.  The weather was much better than MWIS predicted, casting doubts on its validity in that area. Unwittingly, they had arranged to do it on race day so there were plenty of folk about but as they started after 9:30 a.m. they were not allowed to get their cards stamped.

Next, following the references in BB0812 and BB0813 to Sleddale Hall and its use as Monty’s cottage in the country in Withnail and I, I thought I should watch the film. Encouraged by reports of it being the funniest film ever made, I “1-clicked” Amazon and the DVD arrived the next day.  So while Jamie and his pals celebrated their achievement with a night out in Kendal, Margaret and I settled down to watch one of the cult films of the 1980s.

Set in 1969, it features Paul McGann (I) and Richard E Grant (Withnail) as two out of work, dissolute and depressed actors who persuade the latter’s Uncle Monty to lend them his cottage for a country break. Hence Sleddale Hall, which appears to have been removed to Haweswater!  With the weather and reception by the locals not as idyllic as they expected, peaceful it was not and then Monty arrives, a raging queen thinking that I is of the same persuasion.  

There are funny moments; Richard Griffiths is superb as Monty and Richard E Grant looks broodingly magnificent throughout but Paul McGann, perhaps due to the effort of losing his scouse accent, mumbles his way through some of the dialogue.  Margaret thought he was good so perhaps that is what the part required.

Different, yes, with epic one-liners and a few 60s classics on the soundtrack but the funniest film ever made?


Not for me by a long chalk.  I think I will give that accolade to Shakespeare in Love.

Our following week was mostly spent “en famille” in Munich and Bavaria.  Munich is a wonderful wonderful city and Bavaria has stunning stunning scenery, smart smart towns, and pretty pretty villages.  Too perfect perfect for some tastes but I was worried on returning to a spectacular evening storm on the M6 that I was going to find England small, grubby and dull in comparison.  Today’s outing dispelled that fear.

We had a late start as Bryan needed to be online at 10 a.m. to try and get tickets to see Leeds United in the play offs.  As it happens (a good Leeds phrase, jewellry jewellry), he was unsuccessful but it meant that we were unable to get away before 10:30.

We drove to Appleby on a lovely warm early summer day- a bit of haze, a bit of wind but otherwise perfect with plenty of blossom out.  Even Tebay looked alright!  Orton was pretty. Appleby was looking splendid with the gypsies not yet arrived.  From there we headed on to Dufton, another pretty village, where we parked for free.


Dufton Primitive Methodist Church 1905


Dufton Village Green

Our objective was High Cup Nick.  However we were not tackling it head on but taking it (or it taking us) by surprise from behind.

Bryan, Stan and I started off up the bridle path near Little Rundle Beck then followed the mine track alongside Brownber Hill up to join Great Rundle Beck on Threlkeld Side, passing what we presumed to be a huge lime kiln on the way.


The Bridle Path


Huge Lime Kiln

Brownber Hill

Bryan informs me that the mines were lead and barite.  There were certainly a lot of unusual coloured rocks lying around.  The track was not outrageously steep but it was an unrelenting pull up onto the moor to emerge by a convenient shooters’ hut.  Here we had to decide whether to dine inside or out.  We chose out and took lunch sheltered against the hut wall.


Inside the Shooters' Hut


Team Picture at the Hut

The hut is very close to Great Rundle Tarn (which surprisingly does not discharge into Great Rundle Beck but flows in the opposite direction)

Great Rundle Tarn

We followed the outflow stream (which at some stage becomes Maize Beck) across very wild moorland where the only signs of man were many shooting stands (there is probably a correct word for them but it escapes me- butt perhaps?)  There were mini waterfalls and reflection pools aplenty.  And grouse leaping up squawking "Here I am, shoot me, I won't fly very fast!"


Mini Waterfall


Reflection Pool


The Pennine Way Bridge and....

After two miles of moor we crossed the bridge that took us onto the Pennine Way and towards the top of High Cup Nick.

Had we not known what to expect, it would have been quite a surprise.  Even so, it is a magnificent site.

Bryan could give you a technical geographical explanation along the lines that High Cup Nick is a classic U-shaped valley created by a glacier cutting in to the soft rock of the Pennines.


..... the view down stream

High Cup Nick

The dramatic crags are part of The Great Whin Sill

High Cup Stan


Nick's Needle

I’ll just say that it is Cumbria’s equivalent of the Grand Canyon- not quite the same scale- more a Gurt La’al Canyon.  Still a spectacular sight.  Not so alpinicly stunning as Bavaria but nonetheless a feature well worth a second lunch and bronzing stop to appreciate its rather gentler magnificence

Stan insisted on standing perilously close to a vertical drop for the above picture!  It fair put the wind up me and I was well back!

Bryan spotted a mini Napes Needle and took the photo of it shown on the left.

I thought we might be heading down into the canyon but that was deemed to be too long a way back so we followed its northerly ridge.  

At times the path was uncomfortably close to rather more than a right good mauling.  

Focus and press on!

Looking back to High Cup Nick

Coming down Peeping Hill on what is an optional part of the Pennine Way intended for those spending the night in Dufton- a pleasant thought- we were now travelling at something approaching ramming speed, overtaking everything on the hill.

Mind you, although we might be getting on a bit in years, most of the folk we saw were even older!

At the outskirts of Dufton was a red flag intended to warn walkers to keep out of the Ministry of Defence Warcop Principal Training Area.


Dufton Pike from Peeping Hill

Fortunately we had not strayed into it otherwise this report might not have produced!


Red Flag equals Keep Out


Click on image for more carvings

In the village was a remarkable carved head.  Click on the image also to see its friend on the right.

It was a lovely drive home in the late afternoon sun, though Stan could hardly keep his eyes open after all the exertion!  Another grand grand day out for the BOOTboys.

Don, 7th May 2008

Afternote: Bryan has discovered almost the same walk in Andrew Leaney's Lakeland Fells.  This is an interesting website with a multitude of walks photographically recorded and impressively cross referenced.  On the High Cup Nick walk they took a shorter route across the moor but it was otherwise identical.  Stan was delighted to note that although their route was a mile less they took an hour and a half longer!




10.7 miles

Height climbed:

2,065 feet




If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB0816 tracklog.

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!

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2008 Outings

BB0801 : Avoiding the Graupel;  
16 January

BB0802 : Lyth in the Old Dogs; 22 January

BB0803 : That's Lyth;
27 January

BB0804 : Tony's Memory Lane;
30th January

BB0805 : Fell's Belles!  Thank You Mells?  
6th February

BB0806 : The Langdale Skyline and a Fell Race!
13th February

BB0807a: An Outbreak of Common Sense;
21st February 2008

BB0807b: Askham Fell and  the Lowther Estate;   
13th March 2008

BB0808 : Thanks to the MWIS
19th March 2008

BB0809 :  High Street and Kidsty Pike but no Fairy
28th March 2008

BB0810 :  Prelude to Spring
2nd April 2008

BB0811 :  Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008

BB0812 :  Wet, Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
Thursday 10th April 2008 

BB0813 :  What's It All About, Tony?
Thursday 17th April 2008 

BB0814 :  The Hidden Mountain
Tuesday 22nd April 2008 

BB0815 :  The Bowland CROW
Thursday 1st May 2008

BB0816 :  High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
Wednesday 7th May 2008

BB0817 :  Travelling Light
Wednesday 14th May 2008

BB0818 :  Pensioners’ Day Out
Thursday 22nd May 2008

BB0819 :  The Northern Tip
Thursday 29th May 2008

BB0820 :  The Bannisdale Horseshoe
Wednesday 11th June 2008

BB0821 :  Black, White or Grey Combe?
Thursday 19th June 2008

BB0822 : Thunder on the 555
Thursday 3rd July 2008



BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda  
23rd February - 1st March


Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



Bryan has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of Bootboys.  

To download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.  

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

If you want to contact us, click on