Cuns Fell is a fine though little known fell that stands very much in the shadow of neighbouring Melmerby Fell.
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If Cuns Fell were to be magically transported across the Eden Valley to the Eastern Fells of the Lake District it would no doubt be a well regarded fell visited by countless numbers of hill walkers. Instead it stands in the shadow of Melmerby Fell in the East Fellside of the North Pennines and as such is known to few and visited by even fewer. Indeed the people most likely to visit the fell are Dewey baggers, Cuns Fell being one of 17 Deweys (hills over 500m) to be found in the North Pennines.
Along with the likes of Roman Fell, Murton Pike, Brownber Hill, Dufton Pike and Knock Pike it is one a number of steep sided hills along the East Fellside of the North Pennines that are overtopped immediately to the east by the much higher fells of the main Pennine watershed. On close acquaintance their steep contours make a deep impression but are virtually invisible when looking towards the Pennines from the Lake District.
One of the reasons why Cuns Fell is so rarely visited is because it’s position as a spur of Melmerby Fell does not really lend itself to a natural route. The lower slopes of Cuns Fell, including Catterpallot Hill further down the Cuns Fell ridge, is not access land so an approach from that direction is not really possible.
The only two real options are to either approach across the access land to the north from Little Awfell or to do as I did which is to drop down from Melmerby Fell via Rough Brow and Hause Mouth. On that occasion, having visited Cuns Fell, I then climbed back up on to Melmerby Fell to continue the walk. While this ‘there and back again’ approach is not ideal it was made easier than the steep contours of the map suggests by the presence of a nice slanting path from just below the wall and fence junction on Rough Brow.
The summit of Cuns Fell is probably the rockiest to be found in the North Pennines and this is the fell’s chief attraction. Indeed if the presence of rock alone is the guide to the quality of a summit then Cuns Fell would be judged to have the finest summit in the North Pennines. The view eastwards is severely restricted by what is instead a very impressive prospect of the western flanks of Melmerby Fell.
The view westwards incorporates the northern fells of the Lake District with Blencathra particularly prominent. One of the most impressive views from Cuns Fell is down the precipitous south-eastern slopes into the short steep-sided valley of Ousbydale.
Cuns Fell then is one of a fairly long list of North Pennine tops that, for one reason or another, take a bit of effort to get to but which amply reward that effort. Certainly it is a hill that I plan on going back to again in the future.
Cuns Fell Walks
8th June 2013 – Distance: 10.6 miles: Melmerby – Rake Beck Wood – Gate Castle – Knapside Hill – Melmerby Fell – Hause Mouth – Cuns Fell – Hause Mouth – Maiden Way – Ladslack Hill – Capple Hill – Townhead – Ousby – Melmerby.
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