A circular walk dominated throughout by the giant golf ball that is the radar station at Great Dunn Fell. You will use some good roads, some tracks and the Pennine Way on this walk.
It is worth downloading the Knock Geotrail leaflet from the link I have listed below as it provides more information on the geology of the area than given in my description. Similarly, you could follow the link to the Discover Britain webpage and learn about the Helm Wind which is particular to the Cross Fell area.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Parking is available for three cars at the old Gravel Pit (1) but if people park badly only one car will fit in.
There is some parking further back down the road on the verge but be careful as the ground can be soft so check it out first before pulling in. (This is where the route described below starts from) As this is a circular walk it is also possible to park a couple of cars just before the sheep pens (2) and you can park a couple of cars at the turning into the disused Silver Band mine (10). Alternatively park in Knock and take the longer route in.
(D/A) From the parking, walk up the road passing the house on the left to the disused Gravel Pit.
(1) From the Gravel Pit, keep heading northeast up the road, there will be fields on either side and eventually you will come to a cattle grid beyond which are sheep pens on the left. Ahead will be an information board and an old lime kiln on the bend in the road.
(2) After the cattle grid, turn right and keep the wall to your right hand side. The path is faint at first as you pass through tussocks of grass and reed but you will pick up a path /quad bike track 3 or 4 meters away from the wall and parallel with it. You will soon come to a wooden stile crossing the wall.
(3) At the stile, keep going along the track and it will dip down to cross Sink Beck. (Melmerby Scar Limestone) Continue, keeping parallel to the wall to pass a second wooden stile.
(4) Do not cross the stile but rather follow the path drifting away from the wall before heading downhill towards a bridge. Before the bridge you will come across a junction with the Pennine Way; stone arrow marker and information sign. Swindale Beck is to your right and you will see outcrops of different rock types as you ascend. These different rocks give the landscape its distinctive stepped shape.
(5) Follow the arrow and ascend along the Pennine Way heading for two distinctive triangular cairns. From these, the gradient eases a little, continue following the Pennine Way looking out for some small but distinctive sinkholes near the path. You will arrive at a stream which flows in front of you.
(6) This stream lies in Knock Hush, turn left and follow the path with the hush/stream on your right. The path will eventually cross the stream and pass through a more boggy area where the old hush dam used to be. Look out for the stone posts marked with arrows which help keep you on the right path. It will ascend to a distinctive cairn marking Knock Old Man.
(7) From the cairn, follow the Pennine Way heading north to The Heights passing through felsenmeer. As you descend from The Heights, the path can be boggy in places and will eventually join a line of old iron poles driven into the ground.
(8) At the start of the poles, lookout for a doughnut shaped ring of earth with some rock spoil on the left. This marks an old shallow pit shaft used for mining one of the mineral faults. The line of poles marks the Pennine Way and fortunately, this section has been paved with sandstone flags to prevent erosion of the peat. However, some the flags might be 2 or 3 inches underwater in certain places. The path will bring you to a junction with the road.
(9) At the road junction, turn left and follow the well surfaced road downhill. You will pass the outcrops of Green Castle on the right. You will come to a widening of the road where a track bears off right around the fellside towards the old Silver Band Mine.
(10) Keep descending the tarmac road to pass the disused Knock Quarries on the right. Some of the limestone from here would have been used in the lime kiln which is slightly lower down on the bend in the road above the sheep pens.
(11) At the lime kiln, descend to the sheep pens (2) and then head back down the road to your car, passing the Gravel Pit (1)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. mi 0 - Parking
1 : mi 0.22 - alt. mi 0.22 - Gravel Pit
2 : mi 1.06 - alt. mi 1.06 - Cattle grid
3 : mi 1.25 - alt. mi 1.25 - Sink Beck
4 : mi 1.58 - alt. mi 1.58 - Swindale Beck
5 : mi 1.76 - alt. mi 1.76 - Pennine Way
6 : mi 2.62 - alt. mi 2.62 - Knock Hush
7 : mi 3.41 - alt. mi 3.41 - Cairn
8 : mi 3.84 - alt. mi 3.84 - Poles
9 : mi 4.32 - alt. mi 4.32 - Junction
10 : mi 4.66 - alt. mi 4.66 - Green Castle
11 : mi 6.21 - alt. mi 6.21 - Lime kiln
D/A : mi 7.32 - alt. mi 7.32 - Parking
There are no shelters on this walk and few walls to hide behind and keep out of the wind. Take food and drinks with you.
You will also need a windproof/waterproof jacket and waterproof footwear. There are sections which can be wet underfoot in all but drought conditions.
The detour at point 9 up to Great Dun Fell is worthwhile as you will pass the Dun Fell Hush, which was worked for Galena (lead ore) and Limonite (iron ore). You will also get closer to the radar station.
An alternative variation to this walk is as follows.
From the Gravel Pit (1) take the path on the right leading into the valley between Knock Pike and Flagdaw. Walk along the valley to a junction with another path coming up and around the side of the hill from Knock village. (You can turn right at this path and make an ascent of Knock Pike then return back to the junction) Turn left at the junction and follow the path through 4 fields and then an enclosure of upland pasture to the wooden stile at (3). Cross the stile and follow the walk description as above.
A further alternative is to look at the Discovering Britain web page given in the things to do/see section and make the walk a little longer by parking at Knock.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
This walk is based on the Knock Geotrail published by The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which has only one of 7 UNESCO Global Geoparks found in the UK within its boundaries.
Download the leaflet in order to get the geological information.
What makes this walk so interesting is that the information helps you understand how the land around you is shaped by the different layers of underlying bedrock and how man's influence through mining and 'hushing' has further changed the landscape.
Also of interest is the option to walk up to Great Dun Fell, passing Dun Fell Hush. Great Dun Fell is visible throughout the walk and is demarked by the radar station used to track air traffic. Of historical interest, Great Dun Fell was originally the home to a weather station built by Gordon Manley who was a geographer and climatologist, responsible for the first systematic measurements of mountain weather. He sited his weather station at Great Dun Fell as he had an interest in the 'Helm Wind' which is the only uniquely named wind in the UK.
Discovering Britain has a slightly longer but similar walk to the one outlined above and this weblink is a useful source of information about Gordon Manley and his work.
The Helm wind occurs when wind blowing from a north easterly direction blows over the Pennines and encounters a stable layer in the atmosphere. It creates a wave formation with a very strong down draft, blowing down from the Cross Fell range and a stationary 'wave bar' cloud formation is established in front of the range.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.