Tom Smith's Stone Top

Tom Smith’s Stone Top

Tom Smith’s Stone Top is a fairly insignificant moorland bump on the broad moorland ridge between Black Fell and Grey Nag.

Height (m): 637
Height (ft): 2090
Prominence (m): 15
Classification: Nuttall
Hill No: 2756
Grid Ref: NY655466
OS Map OL31
No. of Visits 1, 2

Tom Smith’s Stone Top is so insignificant in fact that it isn’t even named on Ordnances Survey maps. The summit is named after Tom Smith’s Stone, an old boundary stone which can be found at a fence junction a few minutes walk to the south-west of the ‘summit’.

Tom Smith's Stone, the boundary stone from which the hill takes its name
Tom Smith’s Stone, the boundary stone from which the hill takes its name

The boundary stone is situated at the junction of three parishes on the Northumberland / Cumbria border. On each side of the stone is inscribed a letter whilst at the foot of one side is an Ordnance Survey benchmark. Tom Smith’s Stone Top itself is situated on the Northumberland side of the fence.

Following the fence from Grey Nag towards Tom Smith's Stone Top
Following the fence from Grey Nag towards Tom Smith’s Stone Top

Tom Smith’s Stone Top only just manages enough prominence (50ft) to make the Nuttall classification of English mountains. In reality it is really a subsidiary top of the much more interesting Grey Nag. It is also from Grey Nag that the easiest approach to Tom Smith’s Stone Top can be made. It is a relatively straightforward and easy walk to follow the wall and then fence south-west off Grey Nag to reach the highest point of Tom Smith’s Stone Top. Apart from the fence the only real feature that is passed is a small tarn a couple of minutes before reaching the highest point of the fell.

The small tarn to the north-east of the summit with Cold Fell in the distance
The small tarn to the north-east of the summit with Cold Fell in the distance

Apart from the ubiquitous fence the summit is marked by a stake and a handful of stones. On my first visit it was on a bitterly cold day in snow, ice and hill fog. Visibility was virtually nil and the only memorable thing about Tom Smith’s Stone Top was the ball of ice that built up around the strap of my gaiters.

My first visit to Tom Smith's Stone Top was in the snow and hill fog
My first visit to Tom Smith’s Stone Top was in the snow and hill fog

My second visit, almost exactly eight years later gave me a slightly different perspective. Yes, it is just a moorland bump. But stood on the top, with North Pennine moors rolling away in all directions, I was struck by the vast empty space all around me. Rarely, as used as I am to solitary walking, have I had a feeling of being so remote and on my own as I felt in that moment. It is not a feeling you are likely to get in the Lake District and perhaps for that if nothing else Tom Smith’s Stone Top should be celebrated.

The stake on the summit looking towards Black Fell
The stake on the summit looking towards Black Fell

Tom Smith’s Stone Top 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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21st February 2011 – Distance: 14 miles: Alston Youth Hostel – Pennine Way – Whitley Common – Grey Nag – Tom Smith’s Stone Top – Black Fell – Hartside Height – Benty Hill – Horse Edge – Park Fell – The Wardway – Alston Youth Hostel.
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