North Pennine Walks
Date: 22nd February 2011
Distance: 8.1 miles
Ascent: 1699 feet
Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY588585
An enjoyable and fairly easy climb on to Cold Fell, the most northerly 2000fter in the Pennines.
Route Summary: Clesketts - Howgill - Bruthwaite Currick - Cold Fell - Brown Fell - Simmerson Hill - Talkin Fell - Forest Head - Clesketts
1. Cold Fell from near Tortie
2. Looking north west towards Whinny Fell
3. Matt approaching Bruthwaite Currick with Cold Fell behind
4. Bruthwaite Currick
5. The patchwork heather moor of Haltonlea Fell
6. A distant view of Grey Nag before it was enveloped in the cloud
7. Matt approaching the top of Cold Fell
8. The summit of Cold Fell
9. The leaning cairn below the summit looking towards Bruthwaite
10. Looking down into Geltsdale
11. On Simmerson Hill
12. Simmerson Hill from Talkin Fell
13. Some of the numerous cairns on Talkin Fell
14. The straight road leading towards Forest Head
Walk Detail: Once again we woke up in Alston with patches of blue sky overhead, this time though it hung around a bit longer and we were able to enjoy much better weather.
We left the car at the small parking area at the end of the road at Clesketts. From there it was an easy walk along the drive to the house at Howgill before taking a path that initially zig-zagged up the fellside before contouring above Howgill Beck.
Somewhat surprisingly the previous day's snow had almost completely melted and while this made the the path a bit moist underfoot I found it an enjoyable and fairly easy walk.
As we approached a line of grouse butts we looked back to see the large currick standing at the highest point of Bruthwaite Forest. At Matt's prompting we made the short detour to take a closer look. Standing over 8 feet tall it was another in a long list of impressive curricks that I have come across in the North Pennines. Low level cloud to the north obscured the views of the Cheviots and Hadrian's Wall country but I imagine on a clearer day it would be an excellent viewpoint.
Returning to the grouse butts it was then an easy climb along a fence to the summit of Cold Fell, the northernmost 2000fter in the Pennine chain. By this point patches of hill fog were beginning to roll over the fellside. I briefly got a view of Grey Nag to the south before it and the summit of Cold Fell were enveloped in the cloud.
We did not linger too long on the summit and so after a brief diversion to a precarious looking cairn just to the north of the summit we followed the fence heading west. After over 150m descent, and back out of the cloud, we made another diversion to two more curricks which both had good views down towards the valley of Geltsdale - the only really decent valley view we enjoyed over the course of the two walks.
To extend the walk slightly we then visited the summits of two lower tops, Simmerson Hill and Talkin Fell. Of the two Simmerson Hill was the higher and more shapely while the summit of Talkin Fell was the more interesting.
From Cold Fell it had looked like there were four cairns on the top of Talkin Fell, one of these I assumed would in fact be the trig point marked on the map. It was with great surprise therefore to find that, in addition to the trig point, there were about 20 cairns / curricks lining the top of the hill on its westernside. I have come across large collections of cairns before in the Yorkshire Dales at High Clint, Megger Stones and Dowkabottom, to name just a few, but it was the first time I've come across this in the North Pennines.
From Talkin Fell it was an easy walk back to Clesketts mainly along good tracks and a very straight section of road leading to the small hamlet of Forest Head.
This was a really enjoyable walk and a real contrast to the previous day on Grey Nag and Black Fell. Although a long way to travel to I think Cold Fell is one of the North Pennine tops I'd definitely like to return to.