Hobbling in the Howgills

Hewitts: Randygill Top, The Calf

Date walked: 23/10/2019

Time taken: 5.75 hours

Distance: 19km

Ascent: 1024m

I've had quite a few trips to the Howgills over the years but one thing I've never done is walk in to the high ground from the North. The scenery is certainly less dramatic from this aspect but the slopes are also easier. I set off my usual time and arrived at the hamlet of Bowderdale before day break for an overdue visit to these wonderful hills.

For the second walk in a row the early start was rewarded with a great sunrise as very dramatic pre-dawn light lit up the clouds all kinds of reds, oranges and pinks.

Glorious Sunrise from Bowderdale

Red sky in morning?

More subtle colours

A fiery start to the day

With the drama over fairly quickly I set about plodding gently upwards, a little cow avoidance was required but it was all easy going and we soon made it to the open fellside past the intake wall. Here more typical Howgills scenery of the beautifully eroded gills, cascading down the eastern flank of West Fell came into view. My attention was also drawn towards some strange clouds formed over the Eden valley which looked lovely in the soft morning light as my faithful hound Hughie and I, made our way to the first top of the day.
Hooksey is one of those very odd names in the Howgills that seem very out of place, who or what is a Hooksey :? It's also worth noting that on the OS map it isn't necessarily the name of the fell as it appears quite a way form the nondescript summit. I do often wonder just what the local guide said to the pioneering OS men at times which led to some things appearing on maps and then seemingly being set in stone.

This way to the hills

The road becomes a track

Soft light over Ravenstonedale Moor

First sight of some typical Howgill's scenery

Sunshine back in the Dale

Some terrific cloudage

Light breaking over Green Bell

Some locals

High Howgills from Hooksey

The wind was quite insistent at this point so we dropped down towards Leathgill Bridge to have a spot of breakfast with the bulk of Randygill Top looming ahead. Those of you who read my reports may recall an idiots day out back in July where not only was I thwarted by my own lack of planning but also had my heels ravaged by some new lightweight boots. Well I've got the bloody things on again today and once again they are doing their worst. :evil: A bit of hunting around in my pack turns up some blister plasters :D Job sorted then! and we are soon romping our way up to the the cairn on Randygill Top where the sun blasts through those early morning clouds to warm the otherwise chilly day.

Fellside Textures

Over to Green Bell

Looking back to Hooksey

Green Bell from Randygill Top

Randygill Top

Hughie on Randygill Top

My plan, such as it was, involved dropping down into Bowderdale at this point. The temptation of continuing on to Kensgriff and Yarlside being a pure fiction as a man must know his limits. :wink: I employed my usual method on England's Northern hills of finding a trod going roughly in the direction I wish to go, then following it. This led to a fairly exhilarating descent down to Bowderdale Beck on what was at times an unfeasibly steep path. Arriving at the beck I realised I had to then cross it, a bit of searching for a suitable place saw me go for it and end up getting my feet wet but more importantly, my blister plasters.


Yarlside and Kensgriff

Heading off Randygill Top in bright sunshine


Bowderdale Head

Headlong plunge

Sky and Fellside

Once across I started the steady climb up the relatively gently rising path towards the Calf. It soon became apparent however that all was not good in the foot department. :( The sensible thing to do would be to turn around and make my way back along Bowderdale as level/down hill was OK, but being a stubborn so and so I carried out a bit of patching up and hobbled on towards to a deserted and really quite chilly summit of The Calf.

Bowderdale Head panorama

Lovely Light in Bowdwedale

Cautley Crag


Wild Boar and Swarth Fells

Haway dad get a move on!

The Calf

Towards the Lakes from The Calf

Chilly on The Calf

Thankfully the lions share of ascent had been done by now so the nice easy walking towards Hazelgill Knott was a relief compared to the agony of climbing The Calf. :shock: For the only time during the whole walk I crossed paths with another walker along here, looks like the Howgills are still a mid week sanctuary for those of a misanthropic tendency then. :D
I decided upon reaching the unmarked and unremarkable summit plonk myself down on a mossy lump and have lunch. Hazelgill Knott is quite central in the Howgills so the views are excellent, and I enjoyed a fine repast sitting with my infernal footwear off my poor feet, trying to forget about the three and a half miles or so back to the car.

Looking down Langdale

But is it art?

Looking back at The Calf

Through the gap to Castle Fell and Mabin Crag

Just give me the food!

Food over with I reluctantly pulled on the torture devices and set about getting back to the car. The ground so far had been very dry and firm underfoot but once on the seemingly endless West Fell the ground started to get a lot wetter and it was a never ending plod to the high point at the North end of the fell.

Looking down to Langdale Knott

Fell Head

Light on Cobles - another of those odd Howgill names

Randygill Top and Yarlside

Sunshine on West Fell Summit

From the last top of the day it was a very easy wander gently downhill back to Bowderdale. It was warm in the lea of the Southerly wind and with the sun shining it was even possible to forget my poor feet for a while.

Easy strolling

A last look up Bowderdale

So a great walk, all said and done, apart from the obvious issue with footwear. Did the offending items get binned following this I here you ask? well no, new foot beds and some heel grips have rendered them useful and I have subsequently completed a couple of pain free walks. :D

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Comments: 10

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Location: County Durham
Occupation: General dogsbody
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Ideal day out: Ridge walk without to much exposure.
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