Monday 7 June 2010

Fox’s Pulpit from Sedbergh – Approx 12.00 miles

Sunday 30th May 2010

Fox’s Pulpit from Sedbergh – Approx 12.00 miles


OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells & Upper Eden Valley


Sedbergh – Howgill Lane – Bramaskew – Dales Way (North) – Crook of Lune Bridge – High House – Lane (Firbank Fell) – Fox’s Pulpit – New Field – Lincoln’s Inn Bridge – Dales Way (South) – The Oaks – A683 – Brigflatts – Birks – Sedbergh.


A fine, sunny day which was slightly cool early on, with patchy cloud providing dramatic interest. One slight shower early afternoon.

It is often ambitious on a glorious Bank Holiday Sunday to expect much in the way of solitude but, while the honeypots of the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales heave under the weight of the holiday influx, this circuit of the Lune valley from Sedbergh manages to avoid the worst of the onslaught.

Sited right on the Western fringe of the YDNP (but actually just over the border in neighbouring Cumbria) this walk strays out of the National Park and into the area of Firbank Fell, currently under consideration for inclusion into the YDNP if the Park is to be extended in future years.

As well as relative peace and quiet, this walk offers great views of the Howgills, Dentdale, the Lune valley and the Lake District with only moderate climbs, along with more intimate sections of riverside walking.

From Sedbergh, Howgill Lane heads west then north skirting the base of Winder as it rises steadily to a high point around Ash-hining. Views abound in all directions with Whernside visible at the end of Dentdale behind us.

The lane then drops down over Crosdale Beck where a bridle path on the left leads to Bramaskew to join the Dales Way. Although a part of this famous trail, the Dales Way is often fairly quiet here. Heading northwards, we passed through Hole House and crossed Smithy Beck before meeting the Lune. We stopped for coffee on a rocky beach where Chapel Beck joins the river. In this sunny spot we watched Dippers, Pied Wagtails and Oytercatchers hunting amongst the smooth stones.

A footbridge crosses the beck, and we wound our way onwards. At Crook of Lune Wood, the last of the year’s bluebells bear testament to the show that would have been in evidence a couple of weeks ago.

From Crook of Lune Bridge we took the bridle path past Davy Bank, over the road and up on to the fell, turning southwards near High House to meet the lane along Firbank Fell. The views from here are magnificent, across to the Lakes in the west and eastwards to the Howgills.

With wonderful views in all directions, we ambled along the lane, taking our lunch at Fox’s Pulpit where, in 1652, George Fox preached, laying down the foundations of the Quaker movement. We took our lunch here on the sunny bank in front of the memorial plaque. I had been reading “White Spider” – Heinrich Harrer’s account of his and other’s attempts to scale the North face of the Eiger. They had to spend three nights bivouacking on the sheer face; each night suspended on a miniscule ledge, in freezing conditions, thousands of feet above the valley below. Stretched out on the warm grass, I chuckled at the contrast between that and our comfortable, sunny perch.

After lunch, our path dropped steeply down from the fell through Hawkrigg Wood where more bluebells littered the shady floor, once again reminding us of the superb show that had so recently been in evidence.

Below the wood, as a few drops of rain scooted overhead, we crossed the B6257 on the way to Lincoln’s Inn Bridge. Here, we joined the Dales Way again, this time heading southwards towards Sedbergh. After a short stretch by the River Lune a mixture of paths and tracks threaded their way across the fields, passing the beautiful, quiet, picture-postcad hamlet of The Oaks along the way.

A quarter-mile section along the busy A683 followed, then it was back to riverside walking; this time by the River Rawthey. The lack of water in the river bore testament to the dry conditions experienced during this Spring. Passing the Quaker houses at Brigflatts the path took us up and over the disused railway line. Discussions abound as to whether these lines could be pressed into use again. Re-instatement to rail track could be both expensive and difficult, but it is perhaps a more realistic ambition to consider using them as foot or cycle paths, similar to those in the Peak District.

The last mile took us past the confluence of rivers Rawthey and Dee to the tiny hamlet of Birks, from where we followed the lane back into Sedbergh, picking our way through the maze of paths surrounding Sedbergh School to the church and the town centre, where we rounded the day off with a welcome cup of tea.

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