England’s best views
High Cup Nick
Above Dufton, Cumbria

‘The Nick (as the name implies) cuts through an outcrop of the Whin Sill, the slab of volcanic rock (dolerite and basalt) thrust upwards through the limestone like the filling in a sandwich and resistant to erosion. The sill crosses northern England.

Here, it forms the rim of a ‘cup’ or gorge running dead straight down a U-shaped ravine and out into the Eden valley.

The edge of the sill juts out as a serrated ledge above and below which the softer rock has eroded. In places, the Sill sticks up as stacks. The valley floor is littered with boulders while, on some of the sides, lines of lichen on the scree look like primeval hieroglyphs.

At its head, High Cup Nick leads onto the high fell. The stretch north is the widest expanse of uninterrupted moorland in England. ’

Extracted from ‘England’s 100 Best Views’ by Simon Jenkins, to be published by Profile books in October 2013 (£25 hardback)

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