Bullman Hills

Bullman Hills

The Bullman Hills are a pair of limestone knolls on the north-east flank of Cross Fell one of which has just enough prominence to be classed as a summit in its own right.

Height (m): 610
Height (ft): 2001
Prominence (m): 18
Classification: Nuttall
Hill No: 2765
Grid Ref: NY705373
OS Map OL31
No. of Visits 2

The Bullman Hills are located on a broad wedge of fellside descending north from Cross Fell. To the west is Black Burn and to the east is Cash Burn. Where the two streams meet is the northern tip of the wedge. The Bullman Hills are like little green islands of grass covered limestone in an area of peaty moorland. Both up close and from a distance their contrast with the immediate surroundings is quite obvious.

The Bullman Hills as seen from Long Man Hill - note the track descending to Cash Burn
The Bullman Hills as seen from Long Man Hill – note the track descending to Cash Burn

The highest of the Bullman Hills is 614m but fails to make the list of hills because it doesn’t manage to achieve quite enough prominence with the higher ground immediately to the south. Therefore it is the lower 610m top which makes the list Nuttall list of English mountains with its prominence of 18m (60ft). It should be noted that the Nuttall’s minimum requirements of 15m (50ft) of prominence is half that of most lists of British hills which tend to use 30m (100ft) prominence as standard.

Looking at the 610m Bullman Hills top from the 614m top
Looking at the 610m Bullman Hills top from the 614m top

The summit of the 610m top, or Bullman Hills North Top as it could be called, is a pleasant grassy knoll marked by a tiny pile of stones. The view to the south, across the South Top, is dominated by Cross Fell. To the east the higher ground of Long Man Hill also restricts the view. To the north-west though there is a good view towards the fells above South Tynedale. Apparently in late spring the summit area is also a good place to find mountain pansies. Unfortunately, as my two visits have been in March and July, I can’t verify this.

Cross Fell and the South Top from the summit of the 610m North Top of Bullman Hills
Cross Fell and the South Top from the summit of the 610m North Top of Bullman Hills

The ‘easiest’ way to reach the Bullman Hills is to use the Pennine Way between Garrigill and Cross Fell. As it passes below Long Man Hill a track leaves the Pennine Way at grid reference NY719367. This drops down to a shooting hut near some old mine workings. From there you can contour due west across rough moor to reach the South Top from where it is an easy crossing to the North Top. A slightly longer alternative from the shooting hut is to follow the track down Cash Burn to about NY712376. Here the track doubles back up to the left leading up to the eastern end of the North Top. Whilst following the path alongside Cash Burn one is likely to come across examples of purple fluospar which were once mined here.

One of the fine examples of purple fluospar I found alongside Cash Burn on my last visit to Bullman Hills
One of the fine examples of purple fluospar I found alongside Cash Burn on my last visit to Bullman Hills

A much longer approach, from the west, is also feasible but it is a very long one. From the bridleway climbing up from the A686 towards the shoulder of Melmerby one can take a track at NY668394. This heads in a generally south-east direction crossing Ousby Fell before dropping down into Black Burn. Not shown on the map is a continuation that climbs up out of Black Burn and leads past some grouse butts almost directly to the 610m top.

The well surfaced track climbing up out of Black Burn
The well surfaced track climbing up out of Black Burn

Bullman Hills Walks

19th July 2020 – Distance: 11.9 miles: Garrigill – Pennine Way – Staneshaw Rigg – Greencastle Tarn – Cash Force – Black Burn – Bullman Hills – Cash Burn – Pennine Way – Long Man Hill – Pennine Way – Garrigill.
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10th March 2012 – Distance: 13.7 miles: Garrigill – Tyne Head – Round Hill – Cross Gill – Doups Burn – Long Man Hill – Pennine Way – Cash Burn – Bullman Hills – Cash Burn – Pennine Way – Garrigill.
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