Cow Green Reservoir - Cauldron Snout Waterfall - Mickle Fell

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This is a there and back walk to the summit cairn of Mickle Fell, the highest point in County Durham at 2,585 feet. Before the nationwide boundary changes of 1972 this honour belonged to Burnhope Seat, located eight miles to the north across Cow Green Reservoir at a mere 138 feet lower.

Mickle Fell lies within the Ministry of Defence Warcop Training Area and is only accessible on a limited number of weekends a year, when an access permit is required. The fell is visible along the entire route of the walk.

From the car park at Cow Green Reservoir the walk descends the long, gentle incline down the side of the reservoir past the dam. After a very short detour to view the impressive cataracts of Cauldron Snout Waterfall, the walk then crosses the county boundary line into Cumbria along the route of the Pennine Way. Stony farm tracks across undulating terrain takes you past Birkdale Farm to the edge of MoD land, from where marker-posts and a cairn direct you to Maize Beck running along the northern flanks of Mickle Fell.

Crossing the beck can be a challenge in its own right and may involve trying further upstream or downstream of the boundary fence, depending on water levels. There is a high possibility that you might need to remove your boots in order to cross, I would therefore recommend packing a pair of waterproof beach sandals just in case. (Trying to cross a stony riverbed in bare feet is particularly uncomfortable!) Whatever the conditions, do not underestimate this innocuous-looking beck; it was as a result of a fatal incident here in 1968 that Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team came into being.

The strenuous part of the walk then starts as the route follows the arrow-straight county boundary fence up the steep side of the fell to the end of the fenceline at King's Pot. The hard work done, a final, relatively flat stroll across a firm, grassy plateau takes you to the large summit cairn on Mickle Fell. Bask in the uninterrupted panoramic views before retracing your steps to the reservoir car park.

The fell has only two permissible access routes, one from the south and one from the north. The route described in this walk is for access from the north only.

England - North England - Durham - North Pennines


Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Lake/Loch, Moor, Waterfall, Wildlife

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31.1 Miles