Little Heaplaw

Little Heaplaw

Little Heaplaw is a neat little hill at the end of one of the ridges descending from Grey Nag down into South Tynedale.

Height (m): 438
Height (ft): 1437
Prominence (m): 30
Classification: Four
Hill No: 16364
Grid Ref: NY686491
OS Map OL31
No. of Visits 1

Little Heaplaw is situated directly below Great Heaplaw, a long moorland ridge descending from Grey Nag. The close proximity of the higher ground of Great Heaplaw renders Little Heaplaw almost invisible from a number of angles. It is perhaps most prominent from the A689 as it winds north of Gilderdale Bridge. For a brief moment here Little Heaplaw rises impressively above the farm at Castle Nook and the site of the Roman fort at Epiacum.

Little Heaplaw from the end of Great Heaplaw
Little Heaplaw from the end of Great Heaplaw

There are no paths to the top of Little Heaplaw but fortunately it sits on open access land. It is quite easy to reach from the Pennine Way as it passes Epiacum. From the Pennine Way I climbed up to a gate at about NY690485. On the other side of the gate I was on open access land. Contouring north on the 390m contour line I came to a stile-like crossing of another fence at the saddle between Great Heaplaw and Little Heaplaw. Crossing over it was then a steep simple climb up on to Little Heaplaw.

The stile where I crossed over to Little Heaplaw
The stile where I crossed over to Little Heaplaw

I first made for a series of curricks as these are quite prominent when looking at Little Heaplaw from below. These proved to be located in a fine spot looking across South Tynedale to the vast moors of Pike Rigg and Ayle Common. There is also a good view both up and down the valley. Considering the close proximity of Epiacum it wouldn’t surprise me if there was once a Roman lookout post on Little Heaplaw.

The curricks on Little Heaplaw looking across to Ayle Common
The curricks on Little Heaplaw looking across to Ayle Common

The curricks are not however the highest point of the hill. This can be found by walking across easy grass to a small pile of stones on the western side of the summit area. The eastern flanks of Grey Nag rear impressively to the west which is also dominated by the long ridge of Thornhope Fell. The finest aspect from the summit is looking north down South Tynedale as it passes into Hadrian’s Wall country. On my visit I thought I could also detect the distant outline of the Cheviots.

The view of South Tynedale from the summit
The view of South Tynedale from the summit

Little Heaplaw is, in the grand scheme of things, one of the lesser fells of the North Pennines. However it made a big impression on me. Whilst there are a host of interesting foothills on the western side of the North Pennine watershed they are much scarcer on the eastern side. This makes Little Heaplaw somewhat unusual, especially compared to the vast high moors that dominate the flanks of South Tynedale.


Little Heaplaw Walks

18th February 2019 – Distance: 10.5 miles: Gilderdale Bridge – Epiacum – Little Heaplaw – Great Heaplaw – Grey Nag – Tom Smith’s Stone Top – Black Fell – Watcher’s Hilll – Gilderdale Burn – Gilderdale Bridge.
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