31st July 2020
A warm and sunny day was in store for a significant landmark along the watershed.
After crossing the popular road summit at Hartside, I climbed steadily up to Cross Fell. It's the highest summit in the Pennines, and higher than anywhere else in England outside the Lake District, and is therefore also the highest point on the English watershed. It is also the location of a major catchment boundary change: on the eastern side, drainage changes from the Tyne to the Tees. And on top of that, Cross Fell, more or less, represents the half-way point of my entire watershed route, by distance.
Of course, given the nature of the geography, terrain, land use and rights of way along the watershed, I consider that I have long since passed the half-way point in terms of time, amount of ascent and effort. Nevertheless, passing Cross Fell is satisfying since it firmly puts me into the second half of the route.
The next few miles were easy, as the Pennine Way follows the ridge-line across both Little and Great Dun Fells, and up on to Knock Fell.
At one point, another owl came practically face-to-face with me, in mid-flight, just a handful of metres away. I didn't quite have my camera ready at this point, so the picture shows it on another loop, just slightly further away.
After a longer but more enjoyable day than yesterday, I arrived at what is definitely the most visually interesting place on this leg, High Cup Nick. A horseshoe of crags, jutting into the moorland with beautiful symmetry, frames High Cup Gill as it flows steeply south-west off the ridge. The watershed passes within metres of the top end of the Nick.
I aimed in advance to camp here, knowing it would be a great spot. There was already one other tent in place, and while I was pitching, another walker commented that he would camp somewhere not far away. There's plenty of space with reasonable pitches, so of course there was plenty of space for a few different campers.
A herd of black horses moved down above the escarpment on the other side, as the sun got lower.