Dufton Pike

Dufton Pike

Dufton Pike is perhaps the shapeliest of a number of steep sided hills that are found at the foot of the much higher Cross Fell range.

Height (m): 481
Height (ft): 1578
Prominence (m): 163
Classification: Marilyn, Four
Hill No: 2775
Grid Ref: NY699266
OS Map OL31
No. of Visits 1, 2

To describe Dufton Pike as the Matterhorn of the North Pennines is moving into the realms of hyperbole. Yet, in comparison to the majority of fells in the North Pennines, it is certainly much more mountain like in appearance. Furthermore Dufton Pike manages to maintain its triangular appearance from multiple angles.

Dufton Pike from Brownber Hill
Dufton Pike from Brownber Hill

At 481m above sea level it is way down the list of North Pennine hills in terms of total height. However its 168m of prominence makes it the fifth most prominent fell in the North Pennines and one of only five Marilyns (hills with over 150m prominence) in the area.

Dufton Pike from Great Rundale
Dufton Pike from Great Rundale

It is one of a number of ‘miniature mountains’ to be found below the main Cross Fell range. Like its near neighbour Knock Pike to the north, Dufton Pike is formed from a rock known as Borrowdale Volcanics which was laid down during the Ordovician period around 450 million years ago. Geologically therefore it is very different from the limestone and gritstone fells of the main Pennine chain which were formed during the Carboniferous 100 million years later. In other words Dufton Pike is one of the oldest hills in the North Pennines.

The view of Dufton Pike from the top of Knock Pike
The view of Dufton Pike from the top of Knock Pike

The hill is named after the nearby village of Dufton and the two enjoy a close relationship. Any visit to Dufton Pike is likely to start from Dufton which is blessed with a small car park which is free of charge. My preferred route is to take the bridleway heading north-east out of the village passing Pusgill House on the way to Great Rundale. At about grid reference NY703261 a kissing gate can be found to the left of the track. To reach the top of Dufton Pike simply pass through the gate and follow the steep grassy path all the way to the top. It is a steep climb but there are some fantastic views to admire when you pause for breath.

The kissing gate which is the key to climbing Dufton Pike
The kissing gate which is the key to climbing Dufton Pike

The other option from Dufton is to take the Pennine Way north out of the village. After passing the farm at Coatsike and the building at Halsteads the path rounds Cosca Hill and drops down to a slab bridge over Great Rundale Beck. Without crossing take a path to the right above the beck. After five minutes or so watch out for a path doubling sharply back up to the right. This brings you to a wall at the bottom of Dufton Pike’s north-west ridge. Simply turn left and enjoy the climb to the top.

The superb descent of Dufton Pike's north-west ridge
The superb descent of Dufton Pike’s north-west ridge

My preference is to take the former route to climb Dufton Pike and the latter route for descent. Given the option I always prefer to climb up the steeper route and descend the gentler route, it is much easier on the knees. Besides Dufton Pike’s north-west ridge is an absolute joy to descend, the only negative is it is over too soon.

Approaching the top of Dufton Pike from the south-east
Approaching the top of Dufton Pike from the south-east

Dufton Pike along with Murton Pike to the south has probably the smallest summit area in the North Pennines. One might expect to find an Ordnance Survey trig point or a cairn on the summit. Instead it has neither, not even a small pile of stones. The summit is all grass, though on my first visit I was struck by the amount of animal droppings.

On the top of Dufton Pike with Great Rundale directly behind me
On the top of Dufton Pike with Great Rundale directly behind me

The 360 degree panorama is absolutely magnificent. To the east is the high skyline of the Cross Fell range including Great Dun Fell, Knock Fell and Backstone Edge. Between the latter two and Brownber Hill is a super view of the deep valley of Great Rundale. Meanwhile, to the west, there is a long line of distant Lakeland fells. If visibility is good then one could spend quite a while identifying all the fells from High Pike to Helvellyn.

Looking down at Dufton from Dufton Pike
Looking down at Dufton from Dufton Pike

The circular walk from Dufton to the top of Dufton Pike using the two routes suggested is just under five miles. That is quite a short walk so on both occasions I’ve climbed it I’ve included nearby Brownber Hill in the route. This adds another steep ascent and is probably one for dedicated hill baggers only. Another alternative to add a bit of extra distance is to include Dufton Ghyll into the route. Found immediately below the village it is a steep sided valley with a lovely path through the woods.


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