Sun 20th Mar, 2005
Present: Dave Bone, Dave Whittingham, Dave Wylie, 'New' Dave (Guest!), Roger Daley, Alan (L) Jones, Peter Walker, Joe Flynn, Lester Payne and Iain McCallum (by Email).
For once a splendid forecast was had for the day, and it was hoped that many more than the 3 Thursday pub definites would turn up. Two cars arrived at the start point of Fairmile Gate, NW of Sedbergh on the western side of the Howgills, in good time at 10am and for a while it looked like a 4 Dave's meet, until Roger spoilt it all. We were just about to leave as Joe's contingent turned up after a contretemps with a learner Driver on the narrow lane, and the 9 left 3 minutes later than advertised. Unknown to us, Iain McCallum was ahead of having started from further up the road at 9-30, but we never managed to catch him up in the day.
The advert was for Becks, ravines, waterfalls, solitude and a good bit of up and down work on some of the steepest grass hills in England. The circuit is ~12miles with 1450m ascent. One mile N along road, follow Carlin Gill to its head at Docker Knott, followed by some cross graining east to get to some of the better hills, skirting Hazelgill Knott, to Randygill Top. Then S via Kensgriff to Yarlside. A steep descent S then SW takes us to a path, climbing up to the Calf, highest point of the Howgills. South via Calders to Arant Haw - out via the west ridge, then N to Bram Rigg beck. Follow the wall, up and around Castley Knotts, and on to the start point.
The team soon spread out following Carlin Gill, with many stream crossings, scrambling along the stream bed and narrow traversing sheep style trails. This is one of the 2 best walkins in the Howgills, bringing one to the end of the line at the attractive waterfall of the Spout. Honestly, the best way out is up the grass slope to the North, with a ramp line through the rock band taking one to the hanging valley above the fall - but we had two dissenters that went way up and over the steep broken ground to the south, before rejoining higher up the valley. Here had the first of many losses as Peter elected to head directly for the Calf for a shorter circuit. Emerging from the head of the defile to the open ground at the watershed where there was the first signs of many small groups of Ponies ranging, wild mustang style around and over (yes - over the tops) the northern Howgills, and the real effort of the walk began with crossing the grain. It was a day of unbroken, hazy sunshine with a keen SE breeze.
The planned route was followed with lunch on the shoulder below Simon's seat, where we were spotted by Iain. Alan was our next break away on the following ascent, with other mutterings of imminent departure. The Wittering complaints gained volume on the near crippling steep grass slopes of Randygill Top and Yarlside but all were now committed to the route to the Calf as the only sensible route back to the cars! The long re-ascent to the Calf marked the last significant height gain and a collapse by the trig point. Leaving Joe and Lester to head directly for the car, the survivors staggered on behind the leader on the long ridge to Arant Haw, the day's finest viewpoint in the late afternoon light. Down, down to some jittery river crossings with trembling knees and up to the intake wall below Castley Knotts where Dave Wh dropped down to the road, being unable to face the additional 50m descent on his knees, that following the wall would involve. This left 4 to complete the planned walk, with all returning safe and unsound in twilight by 6-45. A splendid day out - only a 'short' DAB walk, but there were signs of strain in some legs!
Becks, ravines, waterfalls, solitude and a good bit of up and down work on some of the steepest grass hills in England, in a lonely corner twixt Lakes and Dales. Yes, the attractive, rounded hills to the East as you blast down the Lune Valley on the M6. A good circuit, with an unusual approach that will vary according to the amount of rain in the previous week.
Drive N on the M6, turn off at J37 on the A684 towards Sedbergh (about 1.5hr from manchester). After B6257 turnoff, and bridge over river, take a left turn off the A684 and head N along narrow, walled lane for ~3.5miles, until at Fairmile Gate, the lane enters open fellside - park by roadside and meet at the bridge at GR629978 for a 10-30am start. Maps are awkward - the walk takes in 1:50000 No. 97, 98 and teases with 91.
The circuit is ~12miles with 1450m ascent. One mile N along road, follow Carlin Gill to its head at Docker Knott, followed by some cross graining east to get to some of the better hills, skirting Hazelgill Knott, to Randygill Top. Then S via Kensgriff to Yarlside. A steep descent S then SW takes us to a path, climbing up to the Calf, highest point of the Howgills. South via Calders to Arant Haw - out via the west ridge, then N to Bram Rigg beck. Follow the wall, up and around Castley Knotts, and on to the start point.
Please let me know if interested in coming, in case plans have to change, and to minimise cars.