North Pennine Walks
Murton Fell via Scordale
Date: 3rd October 2015
Distance: 10.4 miles
Ascent: 1950 feet
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY729219
A walk exploring the southern half of Murton Fell including the valley of Scordale and Mell Fell before returning via Murton Pike.
Route Summary: Murton - Hilton - Hilton Beck - Scordale - Mason Holes - Mell Fell - North Edge - Murton Fell - Murton Pike - Murton
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Ever since descending Scordale on my way back down from Little Fell in May 2014 I'd wanted to go back and take another look at the mine ravaged valley, hopefully in better conditions. Unfortunately it lies within the Warcop Range so I'd had to bide my time until a convenient access date. On this occasion I planned to use Scordale as a route on to Murton Fell, a summit I hadn't been back to since I first climbed it in 2007.
Upon arrival in Murton we were just on the cusp of a patch of valley fog and we could see bright blue sky over Murton Pike. However, as we walked down the lane towards Hilton the fog rolled in towards the hills and within minutes the sun had become obscured and visibility dropped to about ten metres.
The result was that we walked up Scordale and saw virtually nothing of it. As we began climbing out of the valley I was pessimistically beginning to wonder if we would see anything at all on the walk when suddenly patches of blue sky above heralded our ascent out of the low cloud. It only lasted a short while but for the next twenty minutes or so we were treated to some stunning views across the valley shrouded in cloud below us.
Climbing a bit higher up we reached High Shop, the ruins of a building that once provided accommodation to miners high up on the flanks of the fell. At this point the cloud rolled back in over the top of us and for the next couple of miles visibility was once again restricted.
Forsaking the more direct route from High Shop on to the upper slopes of Murton Fell we instead did a loop around Mell Fell as I wanted to go in search of the numerous small tarns and pools marked on the map. Apart from one nice reedy tarn this search was largely unsuccessful as many of the pools had dried up or were nothing more than small shake holes.
After an awkward climb over a wall we once again emerged out of the cloud when we reached a rash of stones and a nice currick on North Edge. The contrast in conditions couldn't have been greater and it was here that we realised that almost the entire Eden Valley was shrouded in cloud due to a temperature inversion. Also remarkable was how warm the sun was, I struggle to think of any other occasions that I've been out walking the hills in October in a t-shirt.
From North Edge we climbed gradually to another couple of curricks before crossing a particularly peaty area to reach an attractive shallow tarn littered with rocks. From the tarn it was then a short walk up to the small cairn marking the summit of the fell. Here we sat down to enjoy our lunch and a spectacular view across the cloud covered Eden Valley to the top of Helvellyn.
After lunch we set off for our next objective - Murton Pike. Upon reaching some stone shelters and having only dropped about sixty metres in height we once again entered the bank of cloud. It was so thick that we couldn't see Murton Pike until we were virtually on it. Miraculously, just as we neared the top of the steep pull to the summit, we once again emerged out of the cloud to find the summit of Murton Pike standing almost island like in a sea of cloud - a really special moment.
After taking a number of pictures we then descended back into the cloud for a straightforward walk back to Murton. It became increasingly gloomy the further we lost height and it was remarkable to think how warm and sunny it was higher up in comparison. All in all we'd probably had limited visibility for almost 80% of the walk and yet the other 20% more than made up for it. I can always go back and explore Scordale again but I'm not going to experience a temperature inversion like that too many times.