A remote and fairly rough walk on the Tees / Wear watershed visiting the summits of Chapelfell Top, Fendrith Hill and Westernhope Moor.
|Parking:||Roadside, Swinhopehead House|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
We parked the car at the head of the Swinhope Valley after driving over one of the highest roads in the country (and also one of the narrowest).
The climb up to Cochran's Cabin from Swinhope Bridge was unremittingly steep. After that the gradients eased out but we then had to start negotiating all the peat hags and channels. Chapelfell Top was a typical moorland top with wide sweeping views which were lacking in depth.
"The two miles from the road to the top of Westernhope Moor were fairly easy underfoot but made more difficult by the strong winds."
The main thing that set this top apart was the ditch that runs along the top of the fell to Fendrith Hill. This provided easier walking than the peat hags until we reached the saddle which was quite a mire and this was certainly one of the peatiest sections of walking I've done to date. The views from Fendrith Hill were better because we could see more of the valley.
We did not loiter long on Fendrith Hill due to the strong wind so we continued south over Dora's Seat. Along the way we passed some redundant ski tows. Finally, upon reaching the road we huddled down behind the wall to eat our lunch.
The two miles from the road to the top of Westernhope Moor were fairly easy underfoot but made more difficult by the strong winds. The summit was another wide plateau though more heathery than the previous two fell tops. There is a new path being built going to the top though I don't know where it originates, presumably it is to give access for grouse shooters.
On the way back from Westernhope Moor the clouds began to darken a bit and we had some short bursts of hail. Together with the wind this did not add up to the pleasantest of walking conditions.
This was a decent walk but there was a lack of interesting features as everything to look at was so far away. Still it was good to continue to make some inroads into the North Pennines.