Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Howgills From Sedbergh - approx 12.75 miles


OS Explorer OL19 The Howgills & Upper Eden Valley


Sedbergh – Howgill Lane – Winder – Arrant Haw – Calders – The Calf – Bush Howe – Breaks Head – Fell Head – Howgill – Howgill Lane - Sedbergh


A beautiful day; warm in the sunshine but with a cool, strong breeze.

After the long drive up yesterday and a half-day circuit round Deepdale, the Occupation Road and Dent by way of a warm-up, a promising forecast had us looking for a good, high-level walk with cracking views. In this respect the Howgills tick all the boxes, with far reaching views, sufficient challenge in the climbs and, hopefully, a little peace and quiet on a Bank Holiday weekend.

We designed our route to take us a bit off the beaten track: not quite pathless tracts, admittedly, but certainly less-well-used ways crossing the access land north of The Calf with around 840m of total ascent. Leaving Sedbergh by gently rising Howgill Lane, we gained a little height before accessing the fells via the track on the lower slopes near Ash-hining from where it was a steady pull of around a mile up to the summit of Winder.

Despite it’s modest spot height of 473m, the views are commanding. On a beautiful day such as this, Morecambe Bay and the central Lakes are clearly visible to the west, with Dentdale, Garsdale and the fells of the western Yorkshire Dales National Park to the south and east. We lingered for a few moments to absorb the views before making the gentle descent on a soft, peaty path to the saddle below Arant Haw.

Skirting round the east flank of Arant Haw we could see down into the Rawthay Valley and beyond to the bulk of Baugh Fell. From the narrow ridge marked as Rowantree Grains a short, steep climb, reminiscent of the Alps, brought us out by the cairn on Calders, from where we paused a moment to look back at Arant Haw and the deep gully of Bram Rigg Beck.

A relatively level path led along the plateau-like summit to The Calf, at 676m the highest point in the Howgills. The first couple of tops had been fairly quiet but after Calders the profusion of paths leading to the summit from all quarters had deposited a sizeable crowd by the trig point.

We moved on a few metres to find a quieter spot for lunch from where we could gauge the lie of the land for the next section. Around us the panorama encompassed Morecambe Bay, the Lakes, the northern Howgills, the Upper Eden Valley, the Pennines and the fells of western YDNP - miles in every direction - whilst ahead, our route stretched along an undulating ridge to the north west.

It’s fair to say we could have spent ages gazing around us but, all too soon, we had to continue. A spongy path led easily over White Fell Head and Bush Howe before the sharp drop into Windscarth Wyke. To our left, the wild amphitheatre of Crooked Ashmere Gills and Long Rigg Beck snaking away westwards below felt huge, as if part of a larger landscape entirely.

Then, after a short but breathtaking 90m climb to Breaks Head, we reached the start of the enticing ridge joining it to Fell Head. Swinging westwards, with the Lake District plumb in front of us, easy walking took us along the ridge and over Fell Head, accompanied by wonderful views and a sense of exhilaration all the way.

After a quick rest stop, a steep descent brought us to Whin’s End from where a contour path heading south and west round the lower slopes of Brown Moor to meet the lane at Howgill. From here, a quick look back revealed some of the drama of the last 3 miles.

In other circumstance we would have linked with the Dales Way at Crook of Lune Bridge for our return journey, a more satisfying way of completing the circuit. But time was against us, and the call of a quenching pot of tea and Chinese food proved too great a lure. So we headed back to Sedbergh along the lane, watching the farmers taking advantage of a few dry days to gather in the hay. Finally, we rounded the slopes below Winder and dropped down into Sedbergh at the end of superb day.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent stuff, Id like to see even more photos! Came over here from walking forum, would love to do some walking in howgills one day soon....