Brownber Hill

Brownber Hill

Brownber Hill is a shapely fell situated high above the valley of Great Rundale, a geoglogically diverse valley near the village of Dufton.

Height (m): 519
Height (ft): 1703
Prominence (m): 36
Classification: Dewey
Hill No: 3603
Grid Ref: NY705275
OS Map OL19
No. of Visits 1, 2

The underlying rocks that dominate the Pennine range are limestone and gritstone that were formed during the Carboniferous Period 350 million years ago. Below the Cross Fell range there are a number of smaller hills that are geoglogically quite distinct. Perhaps the shapeliest is Dufton Pike which was formed from a rock known as Borrowdale Volcanics which was laid down during the Ordovician period around 450 million years ago.

Brownber Hill from Dufton Pike
Brownber Hill from Dufton Pike

Brownber Hill, which is situated just across Great Rundale Beck from Dufton Pike, is of a similar age but was instead created from Skiddaw Slate. The saddle or ‘nick’ connecting Brownber Hill to the higher ground of Low Scald Fell to the east is a geological fault line. Much of Low Scald Fell, in common with the upper reaches of Great Rundale is very obviously limestone. It is interesting therefore to note that Brownber Hill has much more in common with the northern fells of the Lake District than with its immediate neighbours to the east.

Brownber Hill from the track leading up to the head of Great Rundale
Brownber Hill from the track leading up to the head of Great Rundale

Whereas the likes of Dufton Pike, Knock Pike and Murton Pike manage to assert themselves impressively above their namesake villages, Brownber Hill is much shyer. On approaching from Dufton it is largely hidden by Dufton Pike until almost the last moment. The best view of Brownber Hill is from Great Rundale where it looks like a pyramid. This is something of an illusion as the summit area is much broader than it appears from below. Indeed Brownber Hill looks very different when viewed from the Pennine Way on its way up to Knock Fell.

Brownber Hill as seen from the path from Knock to the Pennine Way
Brownber Hill as seen from the path from Knock to the Pennine Way

It was from the Pennine Way that I first approached Brownber Hill. Between where the Pennine Way crosses Small Burn and Swindale Beck a clear track branches off to head east in a straight line uphill. The track becomes enclosed before passing through some gates to emerge on to the open fell. Turning right I then followed the wall below Rossgill Edge, this wall follows the fault line I mentioned above. Just as the wall begins to drop down into Great Rundale I came across a large boulder in the wall. I used this to cross over and then climb up on to Brownber Hill. On my second visit when I descended this way some wire had been strung along the top of the wall which made the clamber over the boulder a bit more awkward.

The boulder in the wall below Rossgill Edge
The boulder in the wall below Rossgill Edge

A steeper but much more satisfying approach is direct from Great Rundale. Leaving the track from Dufton as it arrives in Great Rundale drop down to cross the narrow channel of Great Rundale Beck. To the right of a fenced off area of saplings cross the fence and then locate a clear path to the left. This then climbs directly north-east to the top of Brownber Hill. The only feature passed en-route is a solitary tree above half way up.

The solitary tree on the climb up from Great Rundale
The solitary tree on the climb up from Great Rundale

After the steep climb it is something of a surprise to find a rather flat featureless grassy top. For some reason I always find a summit slightly unsatisfactory if it cannot even muster a small pile of stones. Perhaps because so few people visit Brownber Hill no one has ever really bothered. The close proximity of Low Scald Fell to the east and Dufton Pike to the west mean that the views are somewhat limited.

The featureless grassy summit of Brownber Hill
The featureless grassy summit of Brownber Hill

Probably the most interesting feature on Brownber Hill is the small crag below the summit overlooking Great Rundale. It is a fine spot with vertiginous views down into Great Rundale. Also notable is the vein of white quartz towards the lower end of the crag. With a bit of care the crag is good for a bit of a scramble but do keep in mind the length of the drop!

Patches of white quartz on the crag below the summit
Patches of white quartz on the crag below the summit

The only other feature on the top of Brownber Hill is the ‘Pile of Stones’ which can be found a quarter of a mile to the north-west of the summit. Situated about 20m lower than the highest point the view it looks like the remains of a shelter or large currick. The view is perhaps better than from the summit as it is slightly more open.

Looking down at Knock Pike from the 'Pile of Stones'
Looking down at Knock Pike from the ‘Pile of Stones’

Brownber Hill Walks

23rd February 2018 – Distance: 7.8 miles: Knock – Dufton – Pusgill House – Dufton Pike – Great Rundale – Brownber Hill – Pennine Way – Mill Bridge – Dufton Ghyll – Dufton.
View Walk Details >>

7th August 2010 – Distance 7.1 miles: Dufton – Pusgill House – Dufton Pike – Pennine Way – Brownber Hill – Great Rundale Beck – Dufton.
View Walk Details >>


<< Back to Hills, Moors & Fells