Great Kinmond and High Pike

Walk date – 24th April 2020

Distance – about 6 miles

Weather – warm and sunny


The weather continues to be warm and sunny and this afternoon we had another walk across the limestone pavements of Great Kinmond and High Pike which cover a huge area of land to the south of Great Asby. We set off from the moorland road which passes beside Sunbiggin Tarn, just as we did for our walk to Little Asby Scar on 7th April, but today our route was across the land on the other side of the road. We followed the Coast to Coast path for the most part with several diversions to some of the many cairns to be found along the way, the main ones being on Great Kinmond and High Pike. As we don’t have a  map for this area on the gps the route indicated on the map below is only an approximation not an actual tracked route. It was the best I could come up with under the circumstances but shouldn’t be interpreted as exactly the one we took, especially as we wandered here and there over the vast and numerous areas of pavement.


Sunbiggin Tarn – Coast to Coast path – Great Kinmond – High Pike – Coast to Coast path – Sunbiggin Tarn


J striding out for Great Kinmond, via the Coast to Coast path, from the moorland road which is just visible on the right of the shot. The lightweight windproof wasn’t needed and it wasn’t long before it was removed.

The path rises gently as it twists and turns across the scrubby grasses and dry heather, the hawthorns are just beginning to put out new leaves, and immediately ahead of us is the bulk of Great Asby Scar.

Great Kinmond is to our right here but the path takes one more turn and …..

….. then its directly ahead and all we have to do is just keep walking towards it. The C-to-C path has been very well trodden over the years and its easy to follow across here.

We’re little further on and a little higher now so the little hamlet of Sunbiggin, nothing more than a couple of houses and a farm nestling below Great Asby Scar, comes into view.

A look back to Mallerstang Edge and the Howgills as we walk the pastures below the pavements of Great Kinmond.

Beyond the wall the pavements of High Pike are beginning to appear over to the right of the shot.

A look back to the Howgills before we pass through another gate. Curious lambs give us some close inspection but stick close to their mothers as we walk by. The adventurous ones who had wandered away from Mum began bleating loudly before scurrying away to find her and safety.

Some of the ewes and lambs decided to walk alongside us as we made our way towards Great Kinmond. Even though it lacks the presence of the traditional stone barns this could be a view of almost anywhere in the Yorkshire Dales.

From the top of Great Kinmond we view the long wall of limestone stretching away into the distance …..

….. and on the other side of the moorland road are the pavements of Little Asby Scar where we walked on 7th April.

A little further to my right for this partial view of Sunbiggin Tarn and a full on view of the Howgills beyond it.

A few shots from the top of Great Kinmond while we wandered around looking for any hint of a summit marker. We didn’t find one.

We did find a view of some of the Lake District fells though but a zoom in and a lot of squinting might be necessary to pick out High Street, Kidsty Pike and High Raise on the distant skyline.

Much closer and easier to see are the Howgills just across the valley .

From Great Kinmond we have another view of some of the Lake District fells, this time of Blencathra and its neighbours in the northern fells, plus a bonus view of one of the Mell Fells, at this distance though its hard to say exactly which one it is. Another zoom will be required to see any of them a little better although Blencathra has a very distinctive shape so it shouldn’t be too hard to spot. From here we’re heading over to the wall corner in the middle foreground.

Before we get there we wander off again having spotted yet another cairn along the way plus another one in the distance over to the right. More investigative wandering ensued and why not, because there’s absolutely no reason to rush anywhere. Just enjoy the weather, the scenery, and the peace and quiet which was occasionally punctured by the call of skylarks.

We eventually get to the wall and before passing through a very hard to budge gate off to the right we had a look around this sheep shelter. I call them ‘huddles’ as they are places where sheep can huddle together in very bad weather. Its a simple arrangement but very effective, in front of a wall corner a lengthy section of wall is constructed diagonally thus forming an open ended triangular shape. The sheep can enter at either end and the three walls provide them with shelter and protection from the elements. It has been well used recently too as the far entrance was ankle deep in strands of shed fleece.

From the wall corner to the stile with no more diversions along the way. Just after the stile crossing …..

….. is this newish gate, the path beyond the gate comes in from Sunbiggin and …..

….. continues on alongside the wall just below us. That section of the path leads past Muddygill Plain, the green pasture land just below the pavements over there, and eventually to a signed junction just above Maisongill Farm. We noticed a tractor and slurry spreader being driven across there but as it was so far away we couldn’t see the person driving it. We went straight ahead from the stile and made another diversion over to this cairn atop another section of pavement on the approach to High Pike.

The northern Pennines from the cairn. You may have noticed that all the cairns we’ve diverted to are well covered by moss from which you can say with some certainty that they have been here a very long time. Some of the ones we saw were so covered in moss that they looked more like little green mounds than stone cairns. Its difficult to know how long they have been here and they were probably way markers for shepherds and travellers in the past. Shepherds mostly use quad bikes nowadays to check their sheep, only walking and accompanied by their dogs, when the sheep need bringing down from the high fells for lambing and shearing. Modern day travellers have gps systems to guide them so cairns are not quite as significant now as they once would have been.

Another fence line to cross as we head over to High Pike. Cross Fell, Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell are the three humps on the northern Pennines skyline.

A look back along the humps and bumps as we follow the wall from the stile.

Another diversion to yet another cairn. This one hasn’t been around long enough to have gathered any moss so its a relatively modern addition.

We eventually reach the row of cairns on High Pike where we stop for a short break, get out the drinks and snacks and generally do nothing for a few minutes. Some of these cairns also look to have been here a very long time, certainly the one on the left had plenty of moss attached to it. That one came up to about shoulder height. To the right of it the next cairn along has collapsed and is now just an untidy heap of stones. The next one along has suffered a partial collapse although the next two look to be mostly intact. The one on the far end looks as though it is a much more recent addition, its much smaller and isn’t as well constructed as the rest of them. Why were they put here, why is there more than the usual single one, and why were they all constructed in a line? Whatever the answers to those questions are they definitely make a striking impact.

From the cairns we retrace our steps back to the wall with the stile and gate and …..

….. take a look at the view below the gate.

Another diversion down the path to this gate for the view across the pastures above Maisongill Farm …..

….. and then its back to the stile and back on the C-to-C route for the uneventful walk back to the car with the Howgills always in view directly ahead.

That doesn’t mean that the pavements have disappeared though so here’s another one with sheep safely grazing and topped off with a couple of solitary trees. The view doesn’t change much on the return leg so I didn’t take any more photos until were were almost back at the car.

With Wild Boar Fell as a backdrop the car eventually comes back into view and we reach the end of our afternoon walk. As usual we haven’t met anyone during our walk so we’ve had the place to ourselves all afternoon. if this good weather continues to hold we’ll be out again quite soon. Fingers crossed for it to last a bit longer.