A handfull of Howgill Hewitt's.
by trailmasher » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:35 pm
Hewitts included on this walk: Calders, Fell Head, Randygill Top, The Calf, Yarlside
Date walked: 14/09/2015
Time taken: 6.01
Distance: 19.81 km
Ascent: 1483m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
It was quite mild with full cloud cover as we pulled into the roadside car park on the A683 just a few metres away from the Cross Keys Hotel. There is no other car to keep us company even though it is around 9:30am as we got ourselves ready for this latest journey into the Howgills, from this, our first visit to the south side of these great rounded hills.
Our aim is to collect all seven of the Nuttall's of which five are also Hewitt's, with three other named but otherwise stateless tops on our way round. We are going to roughly follow the route which is described in 'The Mountains of England and Wales' book which was written by John & Anne Nuttall and therefore take all the significant tops in one fell swoop whilst the weather and daylight is still kind to us.
Setting off we crossed the River Rawthey by the footbridge which is placed conveniently at the side of the car park and took the good footpath which would take us up to the falls of Cautley Spout. We passed a chap dressed in a tee shirt, shorts, and wellies who we presumed was a local shepherd/farmer and he would be the only person that we would see all day, including when we got back to the car. As soon as we got on the path the great bulk of Great Dummacks was directly in front of us with the long, rough, dark face of Cautley Crag reaching out north from its eastern most top with the white of the falls dropping into the tree lined lower reaches of the gully below.
As we continued along the path we came across a notice board telling us about an Iron Age settlement that was in the area and more information can be found on line for anyone interested in such things. As we drew nearer to the falls the stony path changed into a green lane as it rose gently upwards to lead us to the start of the narrow path running uphill by the side of an unnamed gill and is the first leg of our climb up to Yarlside.
First of all more or less straight and then into a zig zag as the path steepens before easing out on its approach to Bowderdale Head…
and the start of the steep and pathless pull up the south side and to the top of Bowderdale Beck from where it once more gets easier before reaching the grassy ridge path that comes up somewhere from the south. As it is not marked on the map I don't know where it comes from, maybe somewhere between Ben End and Westerdale.
Upon reaching the summit of Yarlside we now get a great open view of the Howgills all around with Wandale Hill and Harter Fell on our east side, Baugh Fell further round to the south, Randygill Top and Green Bell is north, Grains, Cobles, Hazlegill Knott, The Calf, etc to the west. It's an amazing array of tops and valleys we can see from here with contrasting colours of brown and green with all shades in between.
Looking and walking north down the ridge from Yarlside top we could see the shapely but inconveniently placed hill of Kensgriff which blocks our way to Randygill Top but will have to be got up and over in able to reach our next objective.
We approached the edge of the ridge overlooking the col between Yarlside and Kensgriff and decided that it was too steep at that point so we continued on until the east flank was more amenable for a descent down. Going this way meant a traverse back across the fellside to reach the col but it was easy enough and no inconvenience really. The way is mostly on grass with just a few small areas of rock and scree and we soon reached the col from where we could just make out a steep path coming down from Yarlside and a decent grassy path heading up to the summit of Kensgriff. The climb up to the top was easier than we thought it would be so this was a bit of a bonus for us.
There is a cairn of small stones on the top and although we are some 65 metres lower now the views are still alright especially to the north and west aspects with the lower and flatter lands to the east.
Our way is now down the easy sloping grass covered ridge path in a north easterly direction before reaching the col and turning northwest up the long, steep, and intimidating slopes of Randygill Top. We stopped for a breather and a drink before setting off on a thin and faint path which is running through the rough grass, and although it kept disappearing we did take advantage of it where possible as it does seem to make the long climb up easier even if it's only a psychological feeling of easier climbing. Once at the summit there is to be found a cairn that doesn't live up to the size of the fell, as one finds a quite small pile of stones marking the highest point, though to be fair I suppose stones/rocks are pretty thin on the ground on these hills. I know that I keep repeating myself but the views despite the grey sky are wonderful, especially to the west where an abundance of fell tops can be seen and is our next port of call.
We are now making our way into the valley of Bowderdale by way of initially a quad bike track and then as we get lower down to the steeper part of the ridge a faint track running down the southeast ridge with Kensgriff and Yarlside to the south each separated by Great Randy Gill and Little Randy Gill with both of them running into Bowderdale Beck.
In front of us and to the west is the great mass of Hazelgill Knott of which we have to pass over the lower subsidiary 556 metre high top to be able to continue on our journey.
Upon reaching the valley bottom we turned south upstream for a few metres before taking on the slopes of Hazelgill Knott by climbing up the pathless ridge south of Hazel Gill.
This is a fairly hard climb up over the rough grass but it didn't take as long as I thought it would especially as we have already done quite a bit of altitude to get to this point. Once on the top - which has some wet areas on it - we crossed over the main Hazelgill Knott to The Calf path and dropped down the once again pathless fellside crossing the top of an unnamed and dry gill where we stopped for food and drink before descending on the north side of it to finally reach the confluence of Langdale Beck where East Grain and Middle Grain join it at its head.
We are now in the Langdale Valley with its wide open areas of grazing land where the cattle range and graze freely along the beck side.
We crossed the beck to find a faint path on the west bank running under the hill named Cobles and followed it along its attempt to follow the bank of the beck but sometimes failing as it often disappeared into the beck itself where the banking had collapsed. No doubt caused by the movement of wild cattle and sheep on their way to greener pastures. This we followed for about 750 metres where at this point a junction is caused by West Grain joining the main waterway of Langdale Beck.
From this point we simply followed the beck upstream crossing and re-crossing it as needs be as it slowly but surely climbed up between Cobles, Simon's Seat, Wethercalf Moss, and Wind Scarth to finally arrive at Windscarth Wyke after a final steep climb over the head of the many runs of water that lead into West Grain. Going this way saved climbing up Cobles to gain the same result, but we thought that we would take the easier option and it proved to be the right choice as, although being pathless apart from the odd sheep trod it was straight forward enough and dry underfoot. The final climb to Windscarth Wyke was a bit more rugged with stones underfoot but we've had worse and the view down West Grain and over towards Great Asby more than made up for it.
As we climbed onto the col between Bush Howe and Break Head we arrived at the path which would now take us up the ridge in a south westerly direction before turning south at Break Head to take a more or less level course to Fell Head…
where the small cairn of stones has a vertical one poking out of the centre of it.
What can I say about the views that I haven't said before? They are amazing. In spite of having full cloud cover all day the long views are not too bad today. We can even see the power station at Morecambe to the south, the M6 motorway, Blease Fell, Uldale Head and the Shap Fells to the west. North are the already done Howgills, the Pennines, Eden Valley, Appleby and more. It's just a shame it's not a clear, cool but sunny sort of a day when the views would have been even more spectacular. This is where we had a drink and something more to eat before continuing on our journey.
We have quite a long way to go yet so we set off back the way we had arrived here and once we had returned to Windscarth Wyke continued forward on the still grassy path to do the short climb up on to Bush Howe…
with its small path side cairn and then followed the wide quad bike beaten grass track as it slowly but surely turned south to pass over White Fell Head before swinging around to the east and continuing the easy passage to reach the OS column on The Calf, the highest point of our walk. I've raved enough about the views so we will simply walk on after a photo shoot and a drink. Despite the cool wind that has been with us for most of the day we have kept warm with the efforts of so much hill climbing.
From The Calf the path has now changed from a wide grassy track to a wide well made rolled stone one which makes for very easy walking and much ground can be covered in a very short time. Bram Rigg Top is in sight and when we get there the small cairn at 672 metres is some 30 to 40 metres off to our left sat amongst the rough brown grass of the area.
Leaving this behind us we continued on this 'main road', still more or less walking south when the light dropped considerably and looking back north saw that the mist had suddenly started to roll in. We are now heading for Calders - our last Hewitt of the day - and we reached the summit in good time with probably the largest cairn that we've seen today.
Our route from here was to cross Little Dummacks, Top of Middle Tongue and on to Great Dummocks from where the plan was to cross over the top of Cautley Crag and then descend down the side of Cautley Spout. But as we left Calders the mist was dropping fast over Great Dummacks so I thought it prudent to pick up the lower path from Top of Middle Tongue, miss out the summit of GD and as the path turns back uphill to gain the summit of GD we turned off south at about the 640 metre contour and set off down the ridge. It was a good decision because as we left TofMP the mist dropped around us and visibility was next to nothing and in these conditions I wouldn't want to cross over the top of Cautley Crag, a place where I had never been before.
The going was quite easy for the first 40 metres or so but as we swung around the side of the small scree and rocky combe it steepened as we descended between Pickering Gill and Hollow Gill before it eased off as we headed towards the footbridge which is over Cautley Holme Beck.
The way down is on rough grass and stones and just before reaching the path to the bridge there is a great swathe of bracken to trip your way through but all in all it is a good quick way off the top.
Well it's nearly job done as we cross the beck and walk back down alongside the River Rawthey back to the car. We have not seen another soul all day apart from the man with the wellies on earlier this morning. This has been a good walk taking in all the high fells and the only disappointment - if it is one - was having to change our plans and route down due to the thick mist. But rather safe than sorry, as the saying goes. It was no big deal missing out Great Dummacks as it's going nowhere and we shall be back to climb some of the lesser fells and get a closer look at Cautley Spout Falls.
It has been cloudy and windy all day but quite mild with it. Rain threatened to fall at one point but came to nothing which I'm pleased about as there is little or no shelter on these hills and I always feel as though I'm a long way from civilisation when in the Howgills, on this walk we were.
by johnkaysleftleg » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:26 pm
by ChrisW » Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:42 am
Beautiful rolling hills all day and no rain is as good as you can get I think
by trailmasher » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:17 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Well done for bagging all five Howgills Hewitts in one outing Good to see somebody else get the wonderful isolation and solitude of these hills at there best. Pity you didn't get to walk along the top of the crags and dfown by the falls but that gives you an excuse to return.
Thank you Anthony and they are big, beautiful, and quiet. I don't think I've ever had a quieter day on the hills. We thought that we'd get 'em in while the daylight is still with us but we shall be back for a few more skirmishes especially along the crags and down the falls.
by trailmasher » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:29 pm
ChrisW wrote:There's some effort in all that upping and downing TM...I get sick of it when I have to drop 200m to reascend something Incredible that you can go so far in the UK and not run into another person (well, except for the odd wellie wearing local) and in such a beautiful place too. No shame in missing out on just one lump after all that, I'd have skipped it with or without the mist but I think I lack enthusiasm
Beautiful rolling hills all day and no rain is as good as you can get I think
The upping and downing wasn't too bad after Hazelgill Knott as the trot up the gill to Windscarth Wyke was easy enough but I wouldn't want to be roaming around these hills on my lonesome as there are too many places a person could come to harm and not be found for a while . It's a great place for a walk and there a good few more of the lesser ones to climb yet Thanks very much for your comments they are most welcome
by Alteknacker » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:19 pm
I did it clockwise
by trailmasher » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:20 pm
Alteknacker wrote:Nice one! I'm a bit late catching up with it - don't know how I missed it first time around!
I did it clockwise
Thanks for the comment and easy to miss a report when lots going on
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