Great Cockup

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Great Cockup
Great Cockup and Skiddaw from Longlands Fell.jpg
Great Cockup seen from Longlands Fell
with the bulk of Skiddaw behind.
Highest point
Elevation 526 m (1,726 ft)
Prominence c. 85 m (279 ft)
Parent peak Knott
Listing Wainwright
Coordinates 54°41′22″N 3°07′46″W / 54.68947°N 3.12931°W / 54.68947; -3.12931Coordinates: 54°41′22″N 3°07′46″W / 54.68947°N 3.12931°W / 54.68947; -3.12931
Great Cockup is located in Lake District
Great Cockup
Great Cockup
Location in Lake District, UK
Location Cumbria, England
Parent range Lake District, Northern Fells
OS grid NY273333
Topo map OS Landranger 89, 90 OS Explorer 4

Great Cockup is a fell in the northern region of the English Lake District, one of the four Uldale Fells (the others being Longlands Fell, Great Sca Fell and Meal Fell).


Great Cockup reaches a height of 526 metres (1,726 ft) and merits a chapter in Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Wainwright describes the fell as functional rather than ornamental, writing:

‘Viewed from a distance Great Cockup appears as a modest but extensive eminence with no obvious summit and nothing calling for closer inspection. First impressions are confirmed by a tour of exploration, the fell underfoot proving no more attractive than the fell at a distance.’[1]


The fell is known as ‘Great’ to distinguish it from its smaller neighbour Little Cockup which lies on its north-western shoulder overlooking the hamlet of Orthwaite with a height of 395 metres (1,296 ft).

The fell’s name originates from the Old English language, a combination of the words cocc and hop, where hop means a secluded valley and cocc means a woodcock or black grouse. So the meaning is probably ‘larger fell above the secluded valley where Woodcock or Black Grouse are found’. Whaley points out that this is the meaning ‘with the valley name being transferred to the hills, but without more evidence this cannot be proven’.[clarification needed][2]

The fell’s name quite often causes mirth because of its slight rudeness and reference to sexual slang. Cockup means a mess-up in the British English language, and the fell was visited by British television personality Denis Norden for one edition of his TV show It'll be Alright on the Night, a programme which consisted of out-takes from film and television which he calls ‘Cockups’. The programme was called Alright on the Night’s Cockup Trip and was broadcast in 1996. The fell's name has also been adopted for a local beer brewed by the Hesket Newmarket Brewery, called ‘Great Cockup Porter’ a dark-coloured stout with an ABV of 3.3%.


The fell has a series of stone-built grouse butts 500 metres (1,600 ft) west of the summit, some of which have been dismantled leaving just the foundations in the ground; they can confuse walkers as to their original purpose. The lower southern slope of the fell has a large, isolated boulder which is marked on large-scale maps; this is thought to be an erratic left by a retreating glacier. The fell has also yielded some rare fossils with unusual forms of dendroid graptolites being found on the slopes.


Great Cockup is almost always ascended from the hamlet of Orthwaite following the bridleway up Hause Gill for 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and then leaving it and ascending Great Cockup's steep southern slopes to the summit. A direct ascent over Little Cockup is possible but the bracken can be thick at certain times of the year. Great Cockup is separated from Meal Fell, 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) to the east, by the pass of Trusmadoor.


The view from the summit is dominated by a good view of Skiddaw’s northern slopes while there is an excellent open outlook towards the Scottish Borders.


  1. ^ Wainwright, A ([1962],2008). A pictorial guide to the Lakeland fells. Book 5: The Northern fells (2nd ed.:revised by Chris Jesty ed.). London: Frances Lincoln. p. 'Great Cockup : natural features'. ISBN 9780711224667.  Check date values in: |year= (help)
  2. ^ Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.78. ISBN 0904889726. 

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