Roman Fell

Roman Fell

Roman Fell has one of the more dramatic outlines in the North Pennine but has access issues due to its location in the Warcop Range.

Height (m): 594
Height (ft): 1949
Prominence (m): 60
Classification: Dewey
Hill No: 3577
Grid Ref: NY754203
OS Map OL19
No. of Visits 1, 2, 3

Anyone wanting to complete the lists of English Hewitts, Nuttalls and Deweys will at some point be faced with the dilemma of having to tackle a few hills to which public access is not always allowed. Five such hills are located in the large Warcop Army Range in the North Pennines – Mickle Fell, Little Fell, Tinside Rigg, Long Fell and Roman Fell.

An old armoured vehicle on the Warcop Range with Roman Fell in the background
An old armoured vehicle on the Warcop Range with Roman Fell in the background

Although there are a couple of bridleways and a few public footpaths that cross parts of the range they are out of bounds for most of the year, access is generally only allowed on designated non-firing days twelve weekends per year. The problem for hill baggers is that none of these hill summits lie on these public routes. Mickle Fell can be reached on access weekends via a choice of two permissive routes. There is usually one guided walk a year to Little Fell. There is no such way to legitimately reach Roman Fell – in access terms it is a forbidden fell.

Roman Fell from Long Fell
Roman Fell from Long Fell

To attempt to reach Roman Fell is therefore is a matter of conscience, not too dissimilar to the one faced by walkers prior to the Countryside Rights of Way Act (CRoW) when large areas of the North Pennines simply were not accessible via rights of way. The main difference here is that the Warcop Range is used for army training and is definitely out of bounds for most of the year. All I can do is lay down my thoughts on the fell and the routes I’ve taken to reach it. It is therefore up to other people whether or not to make use of this information or not.

Roman Fell as seen from Murton Pike
Roman Fell as seen from Murton Pike

The first time I really payed attention to Roman Fell was in 2007 when I was struck by its arresting profile during a visit to the top of Murton Pike. I knew then it was a fell that I wanted to climb. A few years later when I’d already committed myself to attempting to bag all the hills in northern England over 500m it became a matter of having to climb it.

Roman Fell from the top of Swindale
Roman Fell from the top of Swindale

I finally braved it on a non-firing day in May 2014 (regardless of access issues never attempt a walk on the Warcop range on anything other than a designated non-firing day). From Hilton I followed the bridleway up alongside Hilton Beck before taking another bridleway up along the north side of Swindale. As I walked up the north side of Swindale I could make out what seemed to be a path of some sort contouring above the opposite side of the valley. After crossing Christy Bank Sike I left the bridleway and climbed up to join this path, unmarked on the map but fairly clear on the ground, which led me to the remains of a building, probably a sheepfold, in the col between Tinside Rigg and Roman Fell. From there I walked up to the top of Roman Fell.

The steep climb up to the Slape Stones from Scordale Beck
The steep climb up to the Slape Stones from Scordale Beck

My second visit, just over a year later, was part of an ambitious linear walk over Roman Fell, Little Fell and Mickle Fell. With one car parked at Murton and another over 14 miles away on the B6276 myself and two others first climbed Roman Fell direct from the confluence of Swindale Beck and Scordale Beck. It was a very steep but thrillingly direct climb with a bit of scrambling required around the Slape Stones.

Little Fell from Slape Stones
Little Fell from Slape Stones

This was my route of descent on a third visit where I’d come over the bridleway climbing up to Warcop Scarth before heading over Tinside Rigg and Long Fell on my way to Roman Fell. Having done the Slape Stones route in both directions I can say it is much better as a route of ascent. It was just a bit too steep for comfort on the way down. Another possible route is via a track that climbs up from East Moor. I saw a sign near the foot of the track to say it was a permissive path. It is not marked as such on the map and I don’t know how far up it is permissive but is an option I intend to explore in the future.

The cairn on the top of Roman Fell
The cairn on the top of Roman Fell

The summit of Roman Fell is marked by a cairn sat on a huge pile of stones, probably the remains of an older and much larger cairn. The views are superb and extend south to the Howgill Fells and west to the Lake District. To the east the view is dominated by the higher ground of Little Fell. To the north of the summit there is a particularly fine view of Scordale and Murton Pike from Roman Fell Scar.

Scordale from Roman Fell Scar
Scordale from Roman Fell Scar

As Roman Fell is in the impact area one is likely to come across rusting shell cases. I’m not sure if live ammunition was ever used but either way one needs to be wary about what you stand on. The only shells I’ve come across on Roman Fell have been in the col with Long Fell but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others nearer to the summit.


Roman Fell Walks

5th May 2019 – Distance 12.0 miles: Hilton – East Moor – Moor House – A66 – Hayber Lane – Warcop Scarth – Dogber Tarn – Tinside Rigg – Long Fell – Roman Fell – Slape Stones – Low Hause – Hilton Beck – Hilton.
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23rd May 2015 – Distance: 14.2 miles: Murton – Hilton Beck – High Hause – Slape Stones – Roman Fell – Christy Bank Sike – Little Fell – Arnside Rake – Mickle Fell – Mickle Fell Trig Point – High Crag – Close House – Fish Lake – Stake Rigg.
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3rd May 2014 – Distance: 12.2 miles: Hilton – Swindale Brow – Swindale Edge – Christy Bank – Roman Fell – Tinside Rigg – Little Fell – Scordale Head – Scordale – Hilton.
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