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Southern Howgills / 1 day / 11.4 miles (18km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 17 Dec 2005
Start / Finish: Sedbergh. Roadside parking.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 19: Howgill Fells.

Day 1The Calf & Fell Head11.4 miles / 3400 feet (18km / 1036m)

A very rare single day walk to take advantage of the clear frosty weather and revisit the southern mountains of the Howgill range. The route is a simple out-and-back: although there are paths descending from the easternmost summit Fell Head and several points along the ridge, there are no natural return routes to Sedbergh without an excess of lane walking or cutting across the steep valleys.

Day 1 - The Calf & Fell Head

Joss Lane leaves the main street by the tourist information centre and car park and turns R to become a track signed 'To the Fell'. This is the main highway into the Howgills and arrives at a kissing gate and Open Access sign. The path climbs on the left of the attractive ravine enclosing Settlebeck Gill and its little falls, passing a good spring where there is a choice of lines: the more interesting line hugs the gill to its head. The main track bypasses Arant Haw but we took the grassy path directly up the ridge and were met by a biting northerly wind that was often strong enough to blow us off course. Hurriedly adding extra protective layers and mountain gloves, we fought on to the summit and took a couple of pictures, not helped by the buffeting wind, tingling hands and tears on the viewfinder.

Summit of Arant Haw
Summit of Arant Haw (17 Dec 2005__09:28:27)
Calders from Arant Haw
Calders from Arant Haw (17 Dec 2005__09:38:45)

The path to Calders, the first mountain summit of the day, can be clearly seen ahead but first we descended a short way down the shielded steep eastern slope for a snack with grand views of Baugh Fell and Wild Boar Fell. Climbing to the cairn on Calders, the path becomes a good track and the views really open out. The next grassy summit is the barely noticeable Bram Rigg Top, just achieving mountain status and is to the left of the track. Another brief climb gains the white trig point on The Calf, accompanied by a frozen tarn. The views were extensive today to the Cumbrian fells, the Cross Fell range and the Yorkshire mountains of Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.

Middle Tongue & Wild Boar Fell
Middle Tongue & Wild Boar Fell (17 Dec 2005__09:53:34)
The Cumbrian mountains from The Calf
The Cumbrian mountains from The Calf (17 Dec 2005__10:47:39)
Frozen tarn on The Calf
Frozen tarn on The Calf (17 Dec 2005__11:21:55)
The Northern Howgills from The Calf
The Northern Howgills from The Calf (17 Dec 2005__11:36:32)

The ridge path NW splits into various undulating tracks but all lead to the next grassy summit Bush Howe. The path crosses the cleft of Windscarth Wyke and climbs out to the cairn on the easternmost summit Fell Head, with the Shap fells looking quite close across the M6. Returning along this fine ridge to the Calf, the wind had weakened somewhat and we could concentrate more on the landscape instead of the elements. The steeply incised valleys and folds in these hills are very picturesque, but can make for arduous days away from the main ridge path and very few people walk the hills in the northern part of the range - another idea for a summer trip to escape the crowds!.

The Cumbrian mountains from Fell Head
The Cumbrian mountains from Fell Head (17 Dec 2005__12:19:43)
The Fell Head ridge
The Fell Head ridge (17 Dec 2005__12:24:41)