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Two Pints of Black Sheep, and The Howgills in Between

Two Pints of Black Sheep, and The Howgills in Between


Postby Christo1979 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:05 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Calders, Fell Head, Randygill Top, The Calf, Yarlside

Date walked: 02/08/2019

Time taken: 13.5

Distance: 38 km

Ascent: 1742m

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The Howgills had been on my mind for some time, having passed them several times when travelling up and down the M6. Being reliant on public transport turns even the most humble of walks into adventures, so it was with some excitement that I discovered a friend was driving down the M6 on Friday, and was willing to drop me off at Tebay. After waving goodbye, I popped into the Cross Keys Inn for a pint of Black Sheep before heading into the hills at about 15:30. Cheers! :)

The weather was gorgeous, and the gentle walk up past Tebay Gill led me to Blease Fell - at last I was on top of the hill I'd seen so many times, and 'wondered about'. Sitting high above the M6, I took a while to enjoy the views, which meant all the way across to the sea because it was such a clear afternoon.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

On leaving Blease Fell I followed the 'path" around to Archer Moss and then up to Udale Head, before heading down to Blakethwaite Bottom, and my first taste of descending one of these very steep, grassy hills. They really are steep :lol: I had read that Blakethwaite Bottom makes for a good camping spot, and certainly I took a few minutes to enjoy the absolute solitude, hidden in the valley between the hills, and fill my water bottles, but it was too early to camp so on I plodded - straight up the hillside to Ulgill Rigg, and a thigh-burning exercise it was, too! It was with some relief I reached the cairn at pt.630 and walked the easy path along the top to the first Hewitt, Fell Head.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

With the steep-sided, grassy hills, tough ups and downs, but flat and utterly camp-able summits, I felt like I could have been up in the Borders climbing some Donalds. I resisted the urge to stop and camp on Fell Head with it's great views, as it was still early. The next steep little climb was Bush Howe, and of course by now the trig point on The Calf (the highest summit in the Howgill Fells) was in sight. Along the way I took time to enjoy this 'herd of sleeping elephants', as Wainwright likened them.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

With it's flat top and lovely views, I decide to camp on The Calf, but first walked on over Bram Rigg Top and to the third Hewitt of the walk, Calders. The view from Calders was magnificent, and I couldn't help but feel it is a shame Calders is simply the sudden end of the broader fell - if the approach from The Calf wasn't so flat I reckon Calders would make for a very striking mountain :clap: After enjoying the views over Hobdale, it was back along to The Calf for something to eat, and a wonderful night's sleep.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

After a few hours sleep, I packed-up and headed along the Dales Highway as the sun came up. Since leaving Tebay I had't seen another soul in these hills, and this wouldn't change for the entire length of the walk. Even the sheep were quiet, it was almost incredibly peaceful, and the solitude was unnerving and beautiful at the same time. Leaving the Highway after a short time, it was down the steep but easy path into Bowderdale, with Yarlside looming above me. It looked utterly impenetrable, with the steep, grassy, damp slopes, and I almost gave-up on tackling it. I plodded along until the spot where Hazel Gill, Great Randy Gill and Little Randy Gill meet, then bit the bullet and trudged my way up the still steep, but longer, slopes - Yarlside's backside, if you like. The views from the summit were fabulous, and I was pleased to look down on the famous Cautley Spout, even though I hadn't climbed it or indeed had no plan to descend that way.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

With just one Hewitt remaining, Randygill Top, I looked at descent options from Yarlside but chickened-out of walking straight down yet another very steep and slippery slope, so instead followed the path of the south side to pt.590, then gradually contoured my way back around to meet the track that leads up to the saddle under Kensgriff. Another steep ascent, more thigh-burning, more huffing and puffing. It dawned on me that I'd like to return to The Howgills in Winter, I imagine walking these slopes in snow would be quite the adventure...

After one more steep pull, up the slopes of Randygill Top, I reached the summit of the fifth Howgill Hewitt, and had myself a little break (and a celebration of sorts) at the cairn. And still, I hadn't seen another soul.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

I opted to carry on to Green Bell, then followed the path down across Knoutberry, and eventually found myself in the beautiful little village of Ravenstonedale. The walk 'proper' was over, but public transport options at weekends were limited (part of the reason I hadn't gone round to Sedbergh, instead) and so I'd booked a ticket from Kirkby Stephen for later in the day. I said my farewells to the fells behind me, and ambled along to the Fat Lamb Inn at Crossbank, which was now open, and I had myself a pint to celebrate what had been a fantastic little adventure, and another five Hewitts climbed. From here, I headed across the wet ground on Kirkby Stephen Common and Wharton Fell (anything is better than blooming road walking!) and emerged on the A683 for the last few hundred yards that took me straight to the station, and a return journey home on one of the prettiest lines around.

ImageWalking in The Howgills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr
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Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 138
Munros:7   Corbetts:9
Grahams:12   Donalds:28
Sub 2000:48   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:63   Islands:20
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Two Pints of Black Sheep, and The Howgills in Between

Postby arjh » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:38 pm

These are great hills, and fortunately neglected! The view from Fell Head westwards is superb.

It is possible to descend directly from Yarlside to Kensgriff - there are cut steps in the turf due to the steepness :lol: but difficult to see from above so understandable that you contoured round.
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arjh
Scrambler
 
Posts: 80
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Grahams:9   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:250
Wainwrights:128   Islands:6
Joined: Sep 5, 2015
Location: Sussex

Re: Two Pints of Black Sheep, and The Howgills in Between

Postby dav2930 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:02 pm

That looked a cracking traverse of the Howgills - a big day! Some very nice photos too. :clap:

The sleeping elephants simile is very apt and imaginative. A.H. Griffin uses it (as applied to the Howgills) in The Roof of England [1968] and doesn't attribute it to Wainwright. I don't know if Wainwright attributes it to Griffin, or when he wrote it. Maybe they thought of it independently, though that seems unlikely. Or maybe either AHG or AW is guilty of sneaky plagiarism! :?
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dav2930
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1285
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Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

Re: Two Pints of Black Sheep, and The Howgills in Between

Postby Christo1979 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:05 pm

arjh wrote:These are great hills, and fortunately neglected! The view from Fell Head westwards is superb.

It is possible to descend directly from Yarlside to Kensgriff - there are cut steps in the turf due to the steepness :lol: but difficult to see from above so understandable that you contoured round.



Thanks for your comment, and thanks for the tip about descending Yarlside! I agree it’s quite fortunate they’re neglected, they could easily become my favourite stomping ground :)
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 138
Munros:7   Corbetts:9
Grahams:12   Donalds:28
Sub 2000:48   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:63   Islands:20
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Two Pints of Black Sheep, and The Howgills in Between

Postby Christo1979 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:07 pm

dav2930 wrote:That looked a cracking traverse of the Howgills - a big day! Some very nice photos too. :clap:

The sleeping elephants simile is very apt and imaginative. A.H. Griffin uses it (as applied to the Howgills) in The Roof of England [1968] and doesn't attribute it to Wainwright. I don't know if Wainwright attributes it to Griffin, or when he wrote it. Maybe they thought of it independently, though that seems unlikely. Or maybe either AHG or AW is guilty of sneaky plagiarism! :?


Thank you for your comment, and thanks for the info - that’s something to get my teeth into and find out :) I don’t think it would surprise me if AW had been a bit naughty, he seems to have been a bit of a character :lol:
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 138
Munros:7   Corbetts:9
Grahams:12   Donalds:28
Sub 2000:48   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:63   Islands:20
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

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