A long walk to three rarely visited summits to the east of Cross Fell, including Round Hill, Long Man Hill and Bullman Hills.
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As much as I'd enjoyed some of my recent walks in the Howardian Hills and Arnside & Silverdale I decided it was time I got back on track with trying to complete all the English 2000ft summits. I only had four left to do in the North Pennines and this walk visited three of them.
As usual I did a lot of fretting about what the weather was going to be like, especially as the Met Office mountain forecasts suggested that there was going to be a lot of hill fog in the north-west. As it turned out it was one of those days where the weather actually proved to be much better than expected.
"The Bullman Hills, completely innocuous looking on the map, turned out to be an interesting and unexpected upthrust of limestone in a sea of moorland."
The sun was actually shining as I left Garrigill for the initial walk along the road heading for Tynehead. This stretch was a bird lover's delight. Within 30 minutes of leaving Garrigill I'd seen a large flock of lapwings, curlew, oystercatchers, and several black grouse - the first time I've ever seen the latter.
As I approached the road end the skies clouded over and it began to drizzle. Thankfully this didn't last too long and not long after I began the climb up alongside Calvert Burn to the top of Round Hill the rain blew over and for the rest of the walk I was able to enjoy occasional patches of sunshine and good long distance views.
So far the walk had been fairly easy underfoot. The going got a bit rougher from Round Hill as I cut across open country for Long Man Hill before dropping down in to Cross Gill. Here I was surprised to find a substantial path, completely unmarked on the map, running alongside the north bank of the gill. I briefly followed this north before climbing up alongside Doups Burn, past the strange sight of a couple of large diggers and on to the top of Long Man Hill.
From the latter I descended a short way west to the Pennine Way which I followed south before taking a track leading down to a shooting hut by Cashwell Mine where, in the shelter of the hut, I sat and ate my lunch. Next on the intinerary was Bullman Hills, the lowest of the North Pennine 2000fters.
The Bullman Hills, completely innocuous looking on the map, turned out to be an interesting and unexpected upthrust of limestone in a sea of moorland. I'd imagine that a bit later on in Spring it would be a good place to look for rare flowers. Instead of returning the way I'd come I followed a path from the Bullman Hills to Cash Burn from where I followed a good track back up to the shooting hut. Scattered all along the path back to the hut were numerous samples of purple fluorspar.
Once back at the Pennine Way it was a straightforward four mile walk back to Garrigill. It was with some relief when the village finally came into view. This had been my longest walk for almost nine months and towards the end I was beginning to feel it. Despite feeling quite tired I had thoroughly enjoyed what had been a typical North Pennines walk and, been on my own, a most solitary experience - I hadn't seen a single other person on the walk.