Walking on Mickle Fell
Q. Someone told me that you cannot go up Mickle Fell (County Durham) because the army use it as a firing range. Is this true? Are there times when they have a cease fire so you can go up it?
Si Barnes, London
A. The MoD were quite helpful when we applied for access and it is now possible to apply on-line. However, access is only granted by two routes, the permitted access is along the old Yorkshire (North Riding) County boundary. For the northern approach most walkers begin at Cow Green reservoir, progress to Birkdale to reach the county boundary; great care is required crossing Birkdale Beck which may not be crossable during spate. The Approach from the south commences at the Cattle Grid on the B6276. The county boundary is delineated with numbered boundary stones and a fence from both north & south. Access is permitted to the summit of Mickle Fell at the western end of the plateau but not the trig point at the eastern end of the plateau. We applied for access from the east across access land starting at Grains o' Beck to get to the trig point and thence onwards to the summit - this was denied by the MoD. MoD land is not Access Land as defined by the CROW Act. Mickle Fell is not currently in the area where artillery shelling takes place but it is evident that troops training in Mickle Fell section of the ranges do on occasion use live ammunition.
Ian Evans, Alford
A. Warcop MOD Firing Range access dates for Mickle Fell, Little Fell (Burton Fell) and Roman Fell are available as a pdf document from this link .
A. Mickle Fell is within the restricted area of the Warcop MOD range. Its in an area which isn't deliberately shelled, though. Its also within the Strathmore estate and the Moorhouse/Upper Teesdale national nature reserve. And (!) its also open access land. You can walk on Mickle Fell on non-firing days as far as the army is concerned and the mod publish the dates. Or you can contact the range safety officer at Warcop for a permit. The Strathmore estate would also like you to ask permission but, I understand that they're somewhat less interested in providing access to the hill than the MOD (who are usually quite helpful). Many people climb the hill without Strathmore's permission. You don't need permission from the Nature Reserve.
Mike Knipe, Crook