Dufton Circular

Walk date – 8th October 2023

Distance – 4.5 miles

Weather – Dry, light breeze and a good spell of unexpected sunshine (at last)


I won’t go on about the weather conditions we’ve had for the past few weeks other than to say that its been grim. Having looked at a few weather charts during Friday and Saturday we thought there might be just a chance of a couple of hours of less gloomy weather today between noon and tea-time. The charts were showing a thinner layer of cloud during that period with less windy conditions and no rain, so it looked as though there was the possibility of getting out for a short local walk during the afternoon. The wind, although less forceful than of late, was still expected to be strong enough at height to make walking uncomfortable and so, given the very short weather window that potentially would be available, we stayed low and opted for a circular walk around Dufton Pike. In the end it turned out to be much better weather than we had anticipated.


Dufton – Coatsike Farm – Cosca Hill – Dufton Pike bridleway – Pusgill House – Dufton

Sunday, 1.00 pm, Dufton, which meant that the parking spaces in the village were as full as we expected because the Stag Inn does a very nice Sunday dinner. We found a vacant space, just behind the spot where the above photo was taken, and parked off road at the entrance to the village instead. The road we’ve just come in on is the Long Marton/Penrith one as indicated by the signpost. We haven’t brought packs as we’re only going to be out for a couple of hours so, armed with camera and gps, off we go straight down the hill making our way down to …..

….. the footpath leading to Coatsike Farm. The path is also known as Hurning Lane and forms part of the Pennine Way. As the photo shows we still are under a blanket of cloud although it is much higher than it has been lately and the fell tops, although still rather murky, are clear to see.

Further along the lane I took this shot of Dufton Pike, while I waited for J to walk back to the car to collect his reading glasses which he had forgotten to pick up. On his return we continued along the lane to …..

….. Coatsike farm, still as untidy as ever it was with regard to the outside area although the farmhouse itself was well kept and uncluttered. The sky is still on the gloomy side but there are hints that it will be thinning out a little before much longer.

We’re beyond the farm now and walking along the ‘green’ lane towards the old farm buildings at Halsteads. The path looks fine in this shot but it became something of a nightmare walk a little further on as it gradually turned muddier and muddier. We came to a stop in several places where the mud was ankle deep, and probably deeper, as we looked for suitable places for the next footstep.

Much relief all round when we came to the end of it and passed through the gate onto the firmer ground of the path beyond.

Passing a holly bush laden with berries on the way. By now this part of the path had also become very muddy but at least we had the beginnings of some weak sunshine, and …..

….. by the time we had negotiated all the mud and arrived at the derelict farm buildings at Halstead the cloud had gone and we were treated to sunshine and a beautiful blue sky. It was far too muddy to venture into the yard so I had to be content with taking the shot from the gate.

Cattle clustered around the feed trough just the other side of the old farmhouse. A glance at their legs, sunk deep into the surrounding mud, indicates how bad things were just here. To make matters even trickier the tan coloured beast decided to go and stand right across our route effectively forcing us into the deeper mud just out of shot on the right. After some slithering and sliding we eventually made it across to the rising ground of Cosca Hill just ahead.

Looking across to Dufton Pike from the path up Cosca Hill. The path was still muddy but wasn’t deep enough to sink into.

Up on Cosca Hill at this point with a view of the Pennine Way track making its way over to Great Dun Fell. With a zoom in its possible to see the white civil aviation authority radome illuminated in the sunlight on the top of that fell.

A view of Knock Pike from Cosca Hill.

Below us is the path we would have been on had we not diverted up to Cosca Hill. As can be seen the path eventually splits a little further along, the left hand path continuing on as the Pennine Way, and the right hand one turning southeasterly above Great Rundale Beck. We decided to stay on Cosca Hill and descend to the Great Rundale Beck path from there which effectively cuts the corner off.

Brownber Hill on the other side of Great Rundale Beck from our route across Cosca Hill.

Cow and calf arrive at the pool for a drink and possibly a paddle. On the distant skyline its just about possible to identify Kidsty Pike and High Street but its all still very murky over there.

A slightly different view of Dufton Pike from the path over Cosca Hill. Even at this lowly height the wind has picked up quite a bit and is now blowing our hair every which way.

Brownber Hill across the valley as we begin our descent down to the path on the eastern side of Dufton Pike.

On the way down we came across this solitary mushroom. I have tried to identify exactly what it is but without success. The images I looked at which seemed to match the pattern that this one has all had different gill and stem features which this one didn’t have at all so I have no idea what it was, other than it was obviously a very lonely mushroom as there were no others of any kind on show anywhere else along the rest of our walk.

Long shadows on the eastern side of Dufton Pike as we follow the field path above Great Rundale Beck.

The path is fairly high above the beck and the tree foliage obscures any view of it at the moment. However, there are a couple of fords used by farmers which offer a somewhat restricted view of the beck and this is one of them. I used maximum zoom for this shot so you can judge how far down from the path the beck really is.

A look back at Knock Pike as it begins to reveal another aspect of its personality. Its not quite the dull grassy mound that it appears to be from the earlier shots of it.

Another look back from the gated stile. Strong springs on the gate and narrow steps did not make for a graceful crossing of it.

The bracken has turned brown and is dying back although it still remains more or less upright. It will have offered stiff resistance to walkers during the months when it was green, strong and tall. The path through it would probably have been more or less covered over.

Through the bracken and onto the grassy green terrace section where we are now in Dufton Pike’s shadow and will be until we round the hill at the far end. Over on the left the cliffs above the mining area in Great Rundale have come into view. We had a walk up Great Rundale on 26th March 2018 so anyone interested in seeing what it looks like can take a look at that walk. There was a lot of snow about at the time but it will give some idea of the geography of the place.

Back in the sunshine and a view along Great Rundale. The path up to the mining area and Great Rundale tarn is on the other side of the wall visible in the upper right corner of the shot.

We’re now on the track going up to Great Rundale having just passed through the gate which marked the end of the path we were on. We haven’t time to walk up Great Rundale today so we turn around and head back down the track towards Dufton.

A herd of cows and their calves were either grazing or snoozing as we made our way down. Its what homo sapiens also seems to do on Sunday afternoons. Backstone Edge is on the skyline.

Autumn colours are gradually starting to appear as the daylight hours grow imperceptibly shorter. In three weeks time they will become even shorter by one whole hour when British Summer Time comes to an end and we all have to put our clocks back. It doesn’t seem all that long ago we were getting the garden back into shape after the ravages of winter in readiness for spring planting. This year we’ve had to put it back into shape a couple of times after the ravages of summer storms and gales.

A look back towards Brownber Hill and Great Rundale before the view disappears as we round the bend.

The calf was some distance down the hill from its mother as we approached so she gave it a call and it came scampering back to safety. Both of them kept a close eye on us as we passed.

A shot looking over towards Little Rundale Beck and Backstone Edge

The view of the Far Eastern fells is now non-existent as we round the bend and make our way back to Dufton. On the path ahead is a young boy, shirt tied around his waist, scampering up the path. A few yards behind him were a couple of teenage girls with two younger girls and …..

….. a long way further down, just a few yards back from the access gate to the Dufton Pike path, were their parents. They seemed glad of the opportunity to stop and ask us if we had seen some of their children further ahead of them. Their descriptions matched the youngsters we had seen so we were able to assure them that they were OK. Its always the same, younger family members are usually quite a distance ahead of their adult relatives, its all that youthful energy. Wouldn’t it be great if that remained the case all through life? Back to the photo above where it looks like some ditch clearance has been taking place thus creating a wider and deeper ditch and creating a bit of a problem for anyone wanting to access the path up Dufton Pike beyond the gate. Access is now possible thanks to the solution shown in the shot. We wondered if it will become a permanent feature.

A look back to Dufton Pike before we start to drop down even further and the view disappears. We’re doing well with the blue sky and sunshine so far.

If there hadn’t been two very large dumpster bags full of building rubbish hanging from the garden gate I would have  been able to take a much better shot of Pusgill House and the renovations it has undergone. As it was I had to resort to perching on a couple of low stones in the garden wall.

From the same perch I took this shot of the statue of a deer which has been sited in the field adjoining the paved terrace of the house.

J negotiates the last big puddle as we walk up the lane leading back into the village …..

….. and here’s a look back at where the lane enters Dufton village. From here its just a short walk …..

….. back into the centre of the village where the water trough and the Stag Inn are situated. It seems that by now the Stag’s Sunday dinner customers have had their fill and left as there are more car parking spaces available now.

The Stag Inn where customers can eat their meals front or back of house. There are tables in the bar area situated at the front and in the dining room at the back. In fair weather the rear dining room opens out onto the very pleasant garden area which also has tables plus a magnificent view of Dufton Pike at no extra cost!

Strolling down the hill at the end of the village to where the car is parked just a little way further down the hill. By the time we reached it the sunshine had disappeared and the cloud had rolled back in so we felt very fortunate to have had at least a couple of hours of blue sky and sunshine and a very pleasant walk, despite all the mud. When we reached the back door at home and put the key in the lock we felt the first few drops of rain falling on us, here we go again!