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Hartside, Smittergill Head Mine, Dun Edge, Fiends Fell, Cumbria..
[15.9 km]  Fri 04 Jan 2019

Lat/Long: 54.770192, -02.551522
OS Grid ref: NY 64616 41836
I drove north along the M6 and turned off at Penrith then via A686 to Hartside Pass where I parked in the car park by the ruins of the burnt out Hartside Cafe. The weather was gloomy when I arrived with thick overhead cloud and it was still dark. By the time I had my kit ready it had just come light as I set off east along the A686 towards Alston.

Alston 5 Penrith 14
There is no footpath but fortunately the traffic was light. Just before my planned turn off onto a minor trike I stopped to look at an old stone milepost. A little further on is an interesting stone building which seems to serve no purpose other than storage or for shooting parties. Opposite is a narrow track which was the route I was taking.
Building at the junction
It descended steeply down by Rowgill Cleugh but unfortunately the surface had been ripped to pieces by vehicles, probably quad bikes and also what looks like motorbike tracks. After the steep descent the track continues for about a mile along a fairly level stretch and although still unsurfaced was not as bad as earlier. It starts to rise up to re-join the main road but before that is a right turn off which was my route.
The low track

Aglionby Beck
This has a stone and heads out to the moors to service the shooting butts and huts etc. I descended down to Aglionby Beck where the track crosses at a ford. There are some stepping stones but they are large and widely spaced and with the water being peat stained the stones were covered in slime. I got across without incident. The track is now following the route of Maiden Way which is a bridleway heading up onto the moor tops.
Corrugated iron store
It is also the line of the old Roman Road. The stone surface continued for about a km where I turned off left to descend to some old mine workings at Smittergill Head. The left turn off also marked the end of the surface track heading upwards along the Maiden way route. I could see a stone hut bothy to my right which is where I was going to visit but not yet. I descended to the mine area to investigate the ruined stone buildings which must have been quite large when they were in use..
Smittergill Head Mine

Smittergill Head Mine
Apparently Smittergill Head Mine was started around 1851. There are still the remains of several buildings including the crushing mill, mine shop and office and the water wheel pit which was fed by a leat that ran along the ridge between Gate Sike and Cooper Sike. It was last worked about 1873.
I crossed over the moor to investigate some spoil heaps which seemed to be lead ore spoil as nothing was growing on them. This made walking very easy but soon I was back in to the heather to cross the final stretch of moor to the bothy where I stopped to take some internal photographs and also have my lunch.

Bothy interior note

Bothy exterior

Bothy interior

Bothy interior

Bothy interior

Bothy interior

Bothy interior
My plan now was to re-join the Maiden way so I headed west across the moor following a very faint track which eventually joined the Maiden way. Unfortunately even though it is part of the Pennine Way it is very indistinct on the ground and incredibly wet and boggy in places. It has also been damaged by motorbikes going up and down. I continued up towards the high ridge at Dun Edge and when I came to a large marker cairn and decided to turn right and head across open stony ground. The going was quite easy and a steady climb to the ridge just below Dun Edge.

Cairn on the Maiden Way
There was wasn't a very distinct path but a line of cane markers had been put in with red and white flags on the top. These followed the line of a faint path over Dun Edge and on to not Knapside Hill and its cairn. The route headed generally north along a faint path but unfortunately I was now in thick mist with nothing to see. I continued over Long Pot then a short climb up Fiendís Fell to the summit trig post. At first I thought I'd missed it as I could see nothing due to the low cloud but eventually it emerged from the mist ahead. I continued on a gentle descent until I came to a gate in a post and wire fence. The gate was horribly wet at the base so I climbed the fence but the path on the far side was almost gone.

-2degC over the tops
I continued to another gate where I had the same problem of a vanishing path. The mist was thick but I knew I was near to the Hartside Cafe area as I could hear traffic and construction machines ahead. At first I thought they were demolishing the remains of the building but it turned out there were highway vehicles the excavating for what looks like a duct. When I got back to the car and car park it was sick mist and very cold in the wind. The temperature for the final 3km was -2degC and all the puddles and small ponds had ice on them.
Fiend's Fell trig post