Murton Pike

Murton Pike

Standing proudly above the village of Murton, Murton Pike is one of the shapeliest hills in the North Pennines and has one the area’s finest summits too.

Height (m): 594
Height (ft): 1949
Prominence (m): 72
Classification: Dewey
Hill No: 3576
Grid Ref: NY734231
OS Map OL19
No. of Visits 1, 2

Below the Cross Fell range there are a number of smaller hills that are geoglogically quite distinct. One of the shapeliest is Murton Pike. Unlike the limestone and gritstone fells that form the majority of the Pennine chain, Murton Pike’s underlying rock is Skiddaw Slate. This dates back to the Ordovician Period around 450 million years ago and is the same rock that can be found on Brownber Hill three miles to the north. Another Ordovician rock, Borrowdale Volcanics can be found on the other two ‘pikes’ in the area – Dufton Pike and Knock Pike. Both the Borrodale Volcanic and Skiddaw Slate rocks are over 100 million years older than the limestone that was created during the Carboniferous period.

Murton Pike from Hilton Beck
Murton Pike from Hilton Beck

Murton Pike is neatly bounded by two steep sided little valleys – Gasdale to the south and Trundale to the north. To the east Murton Pike is connected to the higher ground of Murton Fell at a saddle with a spot height of 522m giving Murton Pike a prominence of 72m.

Approaching Murton Pike from Murton Fell
Approaching Murton Pike from Murton Fell

Immediately to the south-west of Murton Pike is the village of Murton. There is a small car park at the end of the village and one can literally step out of the village on to the lower slopes of the hill. A good path climbs up above Gasdale before swinging round below Murton Crag and up to the saddle between Murton Fell and Murton Pike. It is then a short but steep climb on grass to the summit.

Murton Pike from the path leaving the car park in Murton
Murton Pike from the path leaving the car park in Murton

Murton Pike has one of the smallest summit areas of any hill in the North Pennines. Standing at the top is an Ordnance Survey trig point that was built in 1960. The panorama is tremendous. When visibility is good one can see right across the Eden valley to the Howgill Fells to the south and the Lakeland Fells to the west. To the north-west there is a grand view of the eastern fellside of the North Pennines including Backstone Edge, Knock Fell and Cross Fell. To the south-east the view includes Roman Fell and Long Fell.

The trig point on Murton Pike looking towards Roman Fell
The trig point on Murton Pike looking towards Roman Fell

So far I have visited Murton Pike twice and I have fond memories of it for two very different reasons. My first visit was on my birthday in 2007. It was the final highlight of a tremendous walk up to High Cup Nick and over Murton Fell. On what had been a largely overcast day patches of late autumn sunshine broke to highlight some of the nearby fells just as we reached the trig point.

Enjoying a temperature inversion on Murton Pike
Enjoying a temperature inversion on Murton Pike

On my second visit the views were very different as my friend Paul and I were lucky to experience a temperature inversion. This meant that the cloud base was below the hill summits, in Murton Pike’s case only just. After descending into the cloud covering the saddle with Murton Fell we climbed up on to Murton Pike. The summit was like a tiny island in a sea of cloud with only the tops of the neigbouring hills above the cloud. It was really quite stunning.


Murton Pike Walks

3rd October 2015 – Distance: 10.4 miles: Murton – Hilton – Hilton Beck – Scordale – Mell Fell – Murton Fell – Murton Pike – Murton.
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13th November 2007 – Distance 7.7 miles: Murton – Trundale Gill – High Cup Gill – High Cup Nick – Murton Fell – Murton Pike – Murton.
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