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Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Silence and solitude in the Howgills


Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:17 pm

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

Date walked: 14/08/2012

Time taken: 5.75

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 1125m

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With Grace being away with her Grandma and Nicola unable to get the day off work I was left with a rare day all to myself. I’d long since wanted to have a wander in the Howgills so me and Hughie set off bright and early for these often overlooked hills. I parked up close to the Cross Keys Inn (first car there) and set off excited by what lay ahead. The local farmer and his family were out doing farming stuff and they proved to be the last people I saw for the next five and a half hours. 8)


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The tops were in cloud as I made my way up the initially gentle ascent following Cautley Holme Beck but as it was early I was fairly confident it would lift. Soon enough England’s highest waterfall came into view. Caultey Spout must be one of the least known treasures of the English countryside, if it were a few miles East in the Lakes or West in three peaks country it would be famous, as it is many people will never have heard of it.

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Cautley Spout


The gentle gradient doesn’t last for long and once the path comes alongside the falls it becomes a strenuous pull up the edge of the 600feet of plunge pools and cascades.
With the sun occasionally breaking through and no wind reaching the path it was hot work on a humid morning.

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Top of the falls and Cautley Crag


Several rests later the top of the falls was reached and I was presented with a choice of following the clear path up Swere Gill or taking the path along the top of Cautley Crag.
This was a no brainer to be honest so the beck was crossed and I followed the faint path that follows the edge of the precipice getting fine views along the way.

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Cautley Holme Beck from the top of the crags

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View back to Yarlside


For some reason rather than continue along the edge I decided to cross the boggy wasteland of Great Dummacks which seriously restricts views for a while.
The early cloud had lifted by now but it was very overcast by the time I reached the first Hewitt of the day. Views to the South and West were good from Calders but would be better on a totally clear day.

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Calders summit


The path to the Calf couldn’t be more obvious and I charged off glad of the breeze that was blowing across the tops. That wind was all I could hear as even the sheep just looked and scampered off a causing no more than a gentle rustling through the tussocky grass. The lonely white trig point that marks the top of the Calf is reached after around fifteen minutes walking and I had another decision to make as to bag Fell End or not.

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Trig point on The Calf


On the map the walk to Fell End looks a simple couple of miles by in large it is although the drop down to Windscarth Wyke and up to Breaks Head gets the blood pumping.
I was fairly hungry when I reached the top so even though it was still quite early me and Hughie had lunch while watching the cars zoom along the M6 far below. Fell Head has fine views although today it was very gloomy towards the Lakes.

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Sun starting to break through

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Hughie checks out Fell End summit cairn

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Fell end in shadow

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Typical Howgill's scenery


I retraced my steps back towards the Calf but veered off on the trod that traverses to the North of the trig point. This joins up with the excellent path that I was on earlier as it heads towards Bowderdale. The way then deteriorates becoming increasingly lose and stony and, as you descend the next target of the day, Yarlside grows bigger ahead of you with every step. By the time I’d left the main path and followed a grassy trod down to Bowderdale Head my feet were burning so I took off my boots and socks and had a period of quiet contemplation in this most peaceful of locations. While descending I had decided upon a line up the steep pathless slopes of Yarlside but any sensible plans ended up out of the window as I chose to follow up the South side of a nameless gill towards the col between Yarlside’s two tops. If you take anything from reading this report let it be the advice to climb this hill by a different line than I did. The climb became an interminable struggle over rough tussocks of grass with hidden holes and rocks aplenty. By the time the ground improved and levelled off towards the summit I was utterly knackered and spending as much time admiring the view to Cautley Spout as making forward progress.

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Caultey Spout from the ascent of Yarlside


By the time I reached the small summit cairn of Yarlside it all became worth it. The sun was now out and the views were fantastic. Out of the four Hewitts I visited on this walk this was my favourite even taking the sunshine into account. Any thoughts of bagging Randygill Top left my head at this point as I had neither the energy or water for another sustained climb.

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View East from Yarlside

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View South with Ingleborough in the centre

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View down Bowderdale from Yarlside


I sat on the cairn with my boots off and scoffed the last of my rations admiring the sublime sights on offer. After about fifteen minutes I turned to see the tops of Fell End and the Calf had been covered in low cloud so I decided to get going again. I considered the direct route south but remembered reading Colgregg’s report where he followed the path to the east of the hill above Blackside Beck. It sounded nice so I walked north for a while before dropping very steeply down grass and scree to Saddle.

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Kensgriff

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Path above Blackside Beck


From here it was a fairly simple walk back to the car but I had several rests because it was beautiful and the warm humid day had taken its toll. It was during one of these rests my reverie was disturbed by a rapid “phutt, phutt, phutt” noise. I turned to see a couple of sheep chewing grass behind me. So it is official, the Howgills are so quiet you can hear a sheep break wind. :lol: :shock: I descended the lovely grassy slopes of Ben End before finally seeing other human beings for the first time since I left the car in the last few hundred yards.

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A last look back to the falls


A terrific first visit to the lonely Howgills that more that lived up to their reputation as largely ignored hills. I will most definitely be returning for another visit in the future. :D
Last edited by johnkaysleftleg on Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby colgregg » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:00 pm

I'm so glad you got to do these fantastic hills at last. Hopefully you agreed with my thoughts that the walk back from Yarlside was "walking heaven". As for Randygill I did that on a mega day out from Bowderdale Foot, over Hooksey and Randygill, continuing onto the Calf, Fell End, Black Force and Uldale. All done under a blazing hot sun. An interesting shortish trip to bag it would be to set off from Bowderdale foot and come back via the summit of Green Bell making for a great round of Weasdale.
I've bagged my Howgill Hewitts now but as they are so dramatic and, as you found, relatively crowd free I'll be back.
P.S. Liked your comment about Windscarth Wyke!! It caught me out too as you don't see the depth of descent and re-ascent until you actually get there.
013.JPG
Head of Weasdale

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Looking down Weasdale
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:23 am

colgregg wrote:I'm so glad you got to do these fantastic hills at last. Hopefully you agreed with my thoughts that the walk back from Yarlside was "walking heaven". As for Randygill I did that on a mega day out from Bowderdale Foot, over Hooksey and Randygill, continuing onto the Calf, Fell End, Black Force and Uldale. All done under a blazing hot sun. An interesting shortish trip to bag it would be to set off from Bowderdale foot and come back via the summit of Green Bell making for a great round of Weasdale.
I've bagged my Howgill Hewitts now but as they are so dramatic and, as you found, relatively crowd free I'll be back.
P.S. Liked your comment about Windscarth Wyke!! It caught me out too as you don't see the depth of descent and re-ascent until you actually get there.


The return walk is indeed walking heaven. I've already spent time studying the map thinking of my next trip to bag Randygill Top :lol:
Whatever I do it will include Kensgriff even though it's not a baggers hill. Just too tempting to omit.
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby SusieThePensioner » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:48 am

Really enjoyed your report, John, and so glad you had such a great day :D Wonderful photos :thumbup:

We stayed at Ravenstonedale one year and did a number of the Howgills. They are bypassed by so many people and yet, offer some lovely walks and great views with, as you said, hardly anyone around :D
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby jmarkb » Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:28 pm

Great to see a Howgills report: thank you. :D

I've spent quite a lot of time in them over the years, both as a pupil at Sedbergh School and then while visiting my parents in Ravenstonedale. So much quieter than the Lakes and nicer walking (at least in my opinion) than the Pennines.

Possibly my favourite route is the traverse from Sedbergh to Ravenstonedale (or vice versa), but that obviously needs some suitable transport arrangements.
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:32 pm

jmarkb wrote:Great to see a Howgills report: thank you. :D

I've spent quite a lot of time in them over the years, both as a pupil at Sedbergh School and then while visiting my parents in Ravenstonedale. So much quieter than the Lakes and nicer walking (at least in my opinion) than the Pennines.

Possibly my favourite route is the traverse from Sedbergh to Ravenstonedale (or vice versa), but that obviously needs some suitable transport arrangements.


Your welcome :D That does indeed sound nice but perhaps the best thing is just wandering where you feel like. I only had a vague idea of what I'd be doing (the missus wouldn't like that) and it was fantastic.

SusieThePensioner wrote:Really enjoyed your report, John, and so glad you had such a great day :D Wonderful photos :thumbup:

We stayed at Ravenstonedale one year and did a number of the Howgills. They are bypassed by so many people and yet, offer some lovely walks and great views with, as you said, hardly anyone around :D


Thanks Susie, lets hope they stay a secret for a while yet. Strange thing was even though I didn't see another soul on the hills, even at a distance, the parking was just about full when I got back. Perhaps they were all having cups of tea :?
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:13 pm

Beautiful hike JK and with the best of company too :wink: this would be right up my street if I was still over there, lovely photos, I could well imagine sitting 'boots off' in the sunshine listening to the sheep f**t :lol:
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:23 pm

ChrisW wrote:Beautiful hike JK and with the best of company too :wink: this would be right up my street if I was still over there, lovely photos, I could well imagine sitting 'boots off' in the sunshine listening to the sheep f**t :lol:


Your challenge now is to hear a bear let one go! :wink: :lol:
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby malky_c » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:20 pm

Always liked the look of the Howgills, having passed up and down the M6 countless times over the years. They seem steeper and more interesting from that side. Cheers :)
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby L-Hiking » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:29 pm

Nice report JK, they are indeed wonderful hills and reminds me of the steep assent from Kensgriff to Yarlside where my wife Carol and I neaqrly gor blown away
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Re: Silence and solitude in the Howgills

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:00 pm

malky_c wrote:Always liked the look of the Howgills, having passed up and down the M6 countless times over the years. They seem steeper and more interesting from that side. Cheers :)


Your welcome Malky. They have many secret corners, would take several visits to explore them all.

L-Hiking wrote:Nice report JK, they are indeed wonderful hills and reminds me of the steep assent from Kensgriff to Yarlside where my wife Carol and I neaqrly gor blown away


The only wind on Yarlside when I visited was from the local sheep. :wink:
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