This walk starts from the pretty village of Dufton situated at the foot of the North Pennines in the beautiful Eden Valley. The name of the village is derived from the Anglo Saxon for a farmstead where doves are reared.
The village is set out around a green with long houses and barns forming the main buildings. There is a large hall at one end of the village. In the centre of the village is the pub the Stag Inn. This reflects the fact that this area was part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Inglewood. The Norman King William Rufus appointed wardens to guard the forest.
In 1670 the forest was leased to Sir Christopher Clapham, the owner of Dufton. He managed to find a loop hole in the lease which allowed him to fell the whole of the forest and sell the timber.
The village grew in the 18th Century when Dufton mine was opened by the London Lead Company. This Quaker owned company extended the village as well as introducing a water supply to the village. This can still be seen in the form of a well and a deeper channel to allow people to draw buckets of water from.
The Latin inscription reads: “here is a clear fountain, shining with silver water. Shepherds do not defile it, nor she goets grazing on the mountain, nor other herd or flock. No flying thing nor wild animal molests it, nor branch fallen from tree”
There is a small car park with public toilets in the village as well as space around the green if you need it. From the car park turn right and then right again down the footpath signposted to Dufton Ghyll. The field which is used for camping is known as the Grandee, which in the spring is carpeted in snowdrops.
The track drops down to the ghyll and crosses it by a stone bridge before rising up the other side. This wood belonged to the Manor of Appleby until 1962. The new owner then removed more of the mature trees for timber much to local objection. In 1980 the woods were purchased by the Woodland Trust. The trust have been working to re-establish the woods and develop them for future generations.
At the junction take the right hand fork through the woods. You will cross another track. This is Wood Lane and was used by people heading to Dufton to have their horses shod at the smithy. Continue along the track and cross the stream by the bridge.
On your left is the old mill race from the old corn mill. If you look carefully you might see remains of the race and mill. In 1884 the mill was converted to a crushing mill for the Barytes mined above the village.
Cross the river and follow the path past an old hawthorn hedge into the woods. As you exit the woods you pass Coney Garth, on your left you will see the mounds of the old artificial rabbit warrens. These were built to house the medieval rabbits that were eaten during the winter.
At the road you will see St Cuthbert’s church. Follow the track to the church. The church is named after St Cuthbert as it is said his body was brought here by the Lindisfarne monks escaping the Vikings in 875AD.
In the church yard are graves of miners as well as many local families. To the right of the main door is a small carved medieval coffin cover believed to have been for one of the wardens for the hunting forest.
From the church follow the track across the field past the field house; this is a good example of the field houses built in the 18th and 19th century. These were used to store animal feed to save travel from the farm house. Cross the footbridge and head to the road.
Follow this past the house called “Heater” a local word used to describe a three cornered piece of land. Look behind the house for such a piece of land.
Enter the village of Knock with its two rows of long houses. These houses have their backs to the fell to protect them from the Helm wind that that can blow fiercely from the east over the Pennines. The main windows face south to catch the sun and warmth. The village was home to many quarry workers. Packhorse Cottage was the village pub in days gone by and a stopping point for the pack horse trains travelling across the Pennines.
From the village follow the track signposted for Dufton. Follow the track and then path through the fields to the bridge over Swindale Beck.
Go through the wood and then follow the indistinct path across the field, which is really enclosed moorland. These enclosed moorlands are known as allotments. Follow the vague path to the stone stile just above the beck.
Cross the beck again by the clapper bridge. Above you is Dufton Pike and behind you is Knock Pike, composed of volcanic ash and tuff deposited from an old volcano. These rocks are similar to those found in the Borrowdale volcanics in the Lake District.
The other hills of the North Pennines are made up of rocks identical to those underlying the Lake District and probably the whole of Northern England. Look around for glacial erratics of Shap Granite as well as many glacial features that have shaped the landscape around you.
The large track is the Pennine Way. Turn right to return to Dufton via it, but this walk turns left and follows the track gradually uphill. As you climb look up the valley to the left to see the old lead/barytes mine workings. You will pass ancient hawthorns which have been twisted in the wind. The track ends at a set of sheep pens. Go through the gate and turn right.
As you start to descend views of the Eden Valley open up. A rolling patchwork of fields and woods. Beyond are the Howgill Fells and to your right the Lake District.
You pass the gate that gives access to Dufton Pike. If you still have some energy left then why not head to the top for some great views?
Follow the track down following Pus gill, meaning pool stream. Water was taken from this stream to supply Dufton. You can see the old 18th Century drainage channels in a field on the other side of the stream.
You come to a set of new sheep pens which still has an old corrugated iron shelter used by the shepherds. The track becomes hedge lined, with violets and wood sorrel shaded below as it makes its way back in to the village. As you enter the village turn right and head back to the car park.
This is a great walk along river banks, across farmland, through woods and on to moorland, with a variety of flora and fauna and historical buildings. So why not head to Dufton for a great day’s walk?If you want to get the best out of your walk, why not hire a guide to show you everything this fantastic place has to offer!?