A walk from Castle Carrock to Newbiggin followed by a high level return over Cumrew Fell with a visit to the superbly sited burial cairn on Cardunneth Pike.
|Parking:||Roadside, Castle Carrock|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
Cumrew Fell has long been on my to-do list but Castle Carrock is a long drive from home. Indeed this north-western corner of the North Pennines is probably the furthest from where I live. It was partly with this walk in mind that I booked a cottage in the Eden village of Armathwaite for me and the family over the Easter holidays.
While my wife and daughter went on a shopping trip to Carlisle I drove the short distance from Armathwaite to Castle Carrock. Parking the car on the roadside just before the junction with the Geltsdale road I set off in eager anticipation.
“Although it was a bright sunny day there was a fairly thick haze, especially to the west. Had visibility been better I would have enjoyed tremendous views to the Lake District, the Solway Coast and the border hills of Scotland.”
My aim was to walk from Castle Carrock to Newbiggin before returning over the length of Cumrew Fell. I had two options to leave Castle Carrock, both either side of Castle Carrock Reservoir. In the end I plumped for the path heading down the eastern side of the reservoir. It was a pleasant start with some occasionally good views, over an intervening wall, of the reservoir.
At the end of the reservoir I gained the access road to the farm at Roughet Hill. There followed a series of field paths and enclosed tracks passing the houses and farms at Brackenthwaite and Albyfield. After the latter I finally got a good view up to my left of the flanks of Cumrew Fell and the prominent cairn on Cardunneth Pike.
After leaving Albyfield a long enclosed track descended gradually to the village of Cumrew. The northern half of the village seemed to consist largely of fairly new but tastefully constructed houses in the local red sandstone. On the corner of Rivendell Cottage I was pleased to spot an Ordnance Survey benchmark. The southern half of the village seemed to be older.
Passing through the churchyard of St Mary’s I took a path leading down to a road. Turning left along the road I continued until coming to a bridleway signposted on the left. This took me below the felled plantation of Bove Wood and past a couple of small ponds to reach Townhead in Newbiggin.
Up until this point the walk had been pleasant enough but I was now itching to get up on to the fellside. Without turning into the village proper I therefore turned left to take the bridleway climbing gradually up to what is in effect a pass leading over into upper Geltsdale. There are a couple of tracks marked on the map climbing up from the bridleway on to Cumrew Fell. I took the first of these but it very quickly petered out. I then took a trodden path between grouse butts before climbing up through the heather to a large sprawling cairn at the 439m spot height.
Just beyond this cairn I came across the other track. This was much more solid and I’d advise anyone following this route to continue on the bridleway to reach this track. Ahead of me now the track continued all the way up to the top of Cumrew Fell with Cardunneth Pike clearly seen to the left. Although it was a bright sunny day there was a fairly thick haze, especially to the west. Had visibility been better I would have enjoyed tremendous views to the Lake District, the Solway Coast and the border hills of Scotland.
Getting up a good pace on the track I soon climbed up to a gate. On the other side I hopped over a wire fence to visit the highest point of Cumrew Fell. The smaller of two piles of stones seemed to mark the highest point. With the views to the west largely obscured by the haze I had to make do with the close views across Geltsdale of Cold Fell and, further south, Blotting Raise.
Returning to the gate I then followed a thin path along a wall to then swing around above steeper slopes to reach Cardunneth Pike. A much more impressive place than the summit, Cardunneth Pike is topped by a huge bronze age burial cairn. On top of this is what is known as the Armstrong Cairn. According to a plaque built into it this cairn was rebuilt by Thomas Armstrong in 1961. On a clearer day the views would have been stunning.
After taking shelter from the cold wind blowing from the south to eat my lunch I continued on the thin path to reach another wall. Turning right I climbed back up to the broad crest of Cumrew Fell and the Ordnance Survey trig point. Passing through a gate next to the trig point I continued heading north towards Hespeck Raise. Across one intervening stile and I soon reached the heathery bump which was topped by a what may be a weather station. To the right was a small cairn with a good view of Cold Fell.
Thus far there had been a good path underfoot for most of the way. Below Hespeck Raise the path disappeared and it was largely heather underfoot. Across another wall I came to a decent sized cairn with an excellent view down to Castle Carrock and it’s reservoir. Over the next wall I then descend to a dip below a small hill with twin 310m tops. Resisting the temptation to climb up on to these I turned left to descend diagonally down grassy slopes to reach the public footpath at NY550546. Turning right I followed this to the Geltsdale road, the main feature of interest on this section was a small quarry which has been almost completely reclaimed by gorse.
Turning left down the road I re-entered Castle Carrock and paid a visit to the attractive little church of St Peter’s. Always on the lookout for Ordnance Survey benchmarks I was pleased to see a very obvious one directly to the left of the church door. All in all this was an excellent walk. Had visibility been better it would have been one of the best of the year so far. That said if I was to go back and revisit Cumrew Fell, which I certainly hope to do so, I would probably walk down Geltsdale first before coming back over the top.