Location: High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick is a u-shaped glacial valley in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is a pretty dramatic location, at least by the standards of the North Pennines. It lies on the Pennine Way, and in this guise it is often walked on a route from Teesdale crossing west across the Peninnes to Dufton. However, for my first visit I chose a circular route from Dufton, starting off up the valley of Great Rundale Beck, and traversing across Backstone Edge to reach High Cup Nick before returning to the Pennine Way.

According to the guidebook I used, this is a route of around 11.5 miles, so I decided to take the Fuji GA645ZI rather than the heavier Mamiya RZ67. A Manfrotto monopod doubled up as a walking pole.  I managed to make the route a bit longer because after a mile or so I tried to take a photo and found out that the camera batteries – still the set that came with the camera when I bought it – were flat. No problem, I thought, I have another set in the camera bag… which turned out to be the wrong size. I quickly thought through the options. Carrying on without a working camera was theoretically possible but would probably make me miserable. So, thankful that I had made this discovery early on, I returned to the car where I thought I might have a bag of batteries including some of the right size, and definitely had a couple of other cameras.

Armed with the correct batteries I found in the car, I got back to the same place about 40 minutes later.

High Cup Nick
High Cup Nick. It was near this point that I dropped my lens cap. The cap for the Fuji GA645Zi is very camera-specific and difficult to replace, so a little light scrambling was required to retrieve it.


The North Pennines were the scene of a great deal of lead-mining activity in the past, particularly the 19th Century, and there are many ruined buildings and mine shafts still to be seen.

High Cup Nick
In Great Rundale
Looking back towards Dufton
Looking back towards Dufton

The camera was loaded with Kodak Tri-X 320 Pan film, specifically some expired 220-format film, which I exposed at ISO200 to take into account the reduced sensitivity due to the age of the film, and developed in Kodak TMax Developer. I’m not entirely sure whether I like this film. Compared to fresh Tri-X 400, it’s probably more grainy, is slower, and doesn’t have the capacity for push-processing when needed. Compared to TMax 100 pushed to ISO200, it’s a lot more grainy. A straight scan of the film produced some fairly flat images which needed more contrast added in Lightroom.

I know that some people want lots of grain, but in general I prefer to have less grain, given the choice.

However, I only purchased 5 rollls and have 3 rolls left, so it’s not much of an issue.

High Cup Nick
On Backstone Edge; this point gives great views to the Lake District fells to the West.

High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick

This section is literally the “Nick” in “High Cup”, where a stream flows over the edge, goes underground for a few hundred metres, then appears as High Cup Gill.
High Cup Nick
A side route from the long descent into Dufton. Getting pretty tired by this point but just made it to the tea room in Dufton before they closed.

Given that the walk is partly on the Pennine Way, I had expected to see quite a few walkers, but in fact I saw only four other people the whole day, except in the village of Dufton. I love the Lake District, but not the crowds there; in the central Lakes I probably would have passed 400 walkers.

This was another successful outing with the Fuji which gave a good combination of light weight and good image quality. For High Cup Nick itself, a wider lens might have been handy, but I could have tried a multi-shot panorama if I really wanted to.

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5 comments

  1. Great work. I feel like I can reach out and touch the stones in the second and fourth photos. And the first photo is super strong, with great tonality and depth.

  2. Wow, the first one is great (no, not the google-map, the next first one). The foreground is brutal and the rest of the scenery fabulous. Out of curiosity for the last one: Did you use a yellow filter on that?

    The GA645Zi is surprisingly competent for such a small camera.

    • I used a variety of filters during the day, and for that particular shot I think I used a polarising filter, which would give a stronger effect in seperating the clouds from the sky than would be the case with a yellow filter.

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