A day of two halves on The Howgill Fells

8th March 2014

At one time before the invention of the camera people would go out to fell walk & explore the British National Parks armed with only their sandwiches wrapped up no doubt with the wrapper the bread left the bakery in – then stuffed into a heavy duty ruck sack whereupon they would heave themselves up a near vertical hill still sweating out the remnants of last nights eight pints.

See – I don’t know anything else than the digital age, I have always carried a camera even long before I started my blog, the imagines you take are your take-away memories but it wasn’t always like that, I wish I knew what it was like to get up & throw my pack over my shoulder then climb throughout the best part of the day & be home just in time for Sunday tea without feeling the need to point & shoot.

I simply couldn’t do it.

Days like that are long gone, for the best part of us anyway, I mean who could seriously go out for a walk & leave your camera behind? It’s nothing to be ashamed about we all do it, we are the next generation & we like to share, it’s what we do, it’s what I do. I remember speaking to David Hall a couple of months ago & I was fascinated when I found out that David had done a couple of walks over Christmas un-recorded & without his camera, I guess David wanted to test the water so to speak, to see how it felt but me? I had a bloody gulp in my throat because I don’t think I could have done it, I have always wanted to record my visits to the fells but there are certain times when I think, how can I portray this through my keyboard in a sense that people will understand what I am feeling in my own words & through my own eyes.

I like to think when I walk & luckily enough I like to think about my walking so effectively I’m killing two birds with one stone, should you see a guy talking to himself while out fell walking then chances are, it’s most probably me, without delving too deep into things it’s possibly the reason why I have adapted so much to walking alone, because when I walk I lose myself in my surroundings & my senses overcome me, the result of that is this here website (which can be a good or bad thing!)

So, there’s bugger all chances of me going away anytime soon I guess.

This walk is dedicated to those old timers, or even the new timers who walk camera-less  with just their thoughts who couldn’t give a toss about about sharing, memories are personal to some people & no amount of photos could ever replace them, it’s what’s inside that counts because half the time who’s going to know your emotions when set upon a ridge whilst down in mist, not the camera, it’s down to the individual & nothing can take something like that away.


Wainwright Guidebook

Walks OnThe Howgill Fells

-The Howgill Fells

In one respect – in the magnificence of the views – the Howgills win first prize. Here you have the best of both worlds: uninterrupted views of Lakeland’s fine mountains; a glittering seascape; fifty miles of the Pennine skyline; a vista of the limestone peaks of Yorkshire. From the highest point, The Calf, the distant scene is unexcelled. There is not a more extensive panorama in England than this. And all that is seen is fair to look upon.


Ascent: 2,800 Feet, 854 Meters
Summits: 6, Winder – Arant Haw – Calders – Bram Rigg Top The Calf – Fell Head
Weather: Overcast With Low Cloud Throughout The Morning. Turning Brighter With Cloud Lifting During The Afternoon. Highs Of 13°C Lows Of 9°C
Parking: Holy Trinity Church, Ing Lane (SD 633 629)
Area: Yorkshire Dales National Park
Miles: 11.9
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL19
Time Taken: 5 Hours
Route:  Holy Trinity Church – Howgill Lane – Winder – Arant Haw – Rowantree Grains –Calders – Bram Rigg Top – The Calf – White Fell Head – Bush How – Breaks Head – Fell Head – Beck House – Howgill Lane – Holy Trinity Church

Map and Photo Gallery


Howgill Lane 10:52am 9°C

Todays walk had me at a late start on account of the 40th Birthday festivities that I had attended the previous night, I limited my intake, sorry I’m a such bad liar… I had a few too many which saw me sleep in & awaken at a much more appropriate hour.

My intentions where to pay a visit to the Back O’ Blencathra or indeed the Uldale fells where hopefully I would arrive when the forecasted showers had subsided.

An hour into my drive north I remembered that I had penned a walk on the Howgill Fells sometime before Christmas, don’t get me wrong this walk hadn’t been forgotten about, on the contrary, it was just a case of when the weather was right, which as you know… had never been right.

As Jct 37 approached ever closer I had to make the snap decision whether to turn off or not, visibility at Jct 37 was good & in the distance I could see the summits of the fells I would be walking on which kinda surmised my walking plans for the day.

The Howgills it was.

I took in the narrow lanes sometimes having to reverse back to the passing spots to let on-coming traffic pass, soon after I reached Howgill & Trinity Church where I let myself through the iron gate as it screeched loudly over metal on metal as the pull handle slid backwards.

The air was a little muggy as I took delight in kitting up in my own time, a couple of cars over a group of walkers where getting themselves ready as we shared the ‘morning nod’

With this I slid my foot into my boots which had a little dampness still left in them from my Red Screes excursion just last week, my right foot suffered the dampest. bloody hell I moaned.

I returned to the gate this time giving the handle a good twist & tug at the same time, loudly I let myself through although I did fear I’d just about woken half of North Yorkshire up.


Winder seen from Howgill Lane.

Winder would be my first summit & is still a good mile away as I continue to take in Howgill Lane, here the light is low & at times a few spots of rain which thankfully don’t amount to much.

Sadly I pass a dead Badger most possibly hit by a car the previous night, the animal is full grown much larger than a terrier dog, I tell myself not to look but I did & the poor animals face told it all.

Howgill Lane at the junction with Slacks Lane.

I bear left sign posted Sedbergh & head up a steep gradient where I would soon pick up the track for Winder.

Incidentally, Slacks Lane seen here on the right is the same road I used earlier, should you drive anything wider than 6ft I really wouldn’t recommend using it unless you are exceptionally good at reversing around tight corners.

Height of Winder Cottage.
The ladder left perched on the roof no doubt to adjust the TV aerial tickled me a little, a wonderful cottage no less.

Brant Fell.
Shortly after passing Height of Winder Cottage I hooked a left at this wooden signpost. The track here is used by both the farmers & fell walkers so you can guess it was a little muddy underfoot, after passing through a gate located at the end of the track are you presented with open fell side, it was here I would encounter a fight with the wind.

Arant Haw seen shortly before reaching Winder’s summit.
The fell walkers seen in the photo are the same guys who kitted up back at Holy Trinity Church, I’m not to sure why they flanked Winder as a summit, my only answer was because they wanted to shield themselves from the strengthening wind. Good idea, still, I press on.

Arant Haw seen from Winder summit Trig Point.

My ascent was difficult as standing up was proving somewhat difficult, while at the summit I down pack to add layers, although the wind was strong it wasn’t too cold yet in saying this, I didn’t fancy adding layers further into my walk where the wind could of been stronger only adding difficulties in layering up.

I opt for my hat & gloves at this point, then I tie my hood down tight over my hat leaving me feeling as snug as a bug, if only my eyes & nose could stop streaming…

Arant Haw seen shortly after leaving Winder.

These interconnecting ridges are what first attracted me to these particular Howgill Fells & are amongst my favourite ridge walks.

The guys from the previous photos have pressed on ahead but I will catch them up a little later, the little black dots seen in the photo are in actual fact Fell Ponies, sadly they wandered out of shot as I took in the ridge.

Arant Haw.
Here I leave the comfort of the ridge path to make a more direct ascent on Arant Haw, for now I have visibility which sadly doesn’t last with the more height gained. Oddly enough… The wind drops to almost nothing which makes the ascent a little less tiring than my previous one.

Arant Haw summit cairn.

The last pull towards the summit was surprisingly steep & not how I had remembered it from my previous summit back in November 2011.

There was also no getting away from the fact that I was also losing my views.

Alone with my thoughts.

I drifted across the summit plateau as I followed a faint path etched through time, I check my position making sure I am heading into the right direction as a calmness over comes me.

If there where any stones along this summit top right now I’d be kicking them kid like, but there isn’t any so I soak it all in making sure not to stray too much of the path.

A brief break in the cloud reveals Rowantree Gains after joining back up with the main ridge path.
Ahead Calders summit is under a thick coating of cloud which drifts across the ridge sometimes obscuring my whole crossing.

Ascent on Calders.
After crossing Rowantree Gains it was time to climb into the cloud again, the wind had picked up a little but nothing compared to how strong it was during the ascent on Winder not an hour ago, here the ascent turns from grass to stone with a sharp right turn in the path shortly before reaching the summit.

Calders summit cairn.
The solitary location of Great Dummacks lies less than half a mile west of Calders, on previous occasions I wouldn’t have any problem in leaving the ridge for Great Dummacks, today however, I figure it best to stick to the main path & continue towards Bram Rigg Top where I enjoy the little descent after leaving Calders.

Heading for Bram Rigg Top.

After leaving Calders I kept with the main ridge path for a short time while remembering to look out for a small cairn indicating a faint narrow grassy path that would lead me to Bram Rigg Top, this caused a little confusion at first as I thought maybe I had passed the cairn, my confusion was settled as I reached the point where evidence of a minor path lead away from the main ridge path, I looked closely along the main path just to see if I could spot the stone marker cairn but sadly couldn’t see it. I can only think that the cairn is no longer there or I had walked right passed it which seemed strange seeing as I was looking out for it.

Oh well, nah bother.

Bram Rigg Top summit cairn.

With the summit shrouded in cloud I made a little navigational error in continuing with the faint path seen in the photo, after a matter of minutes I realised that I was heading for Bram Rigg & indeed the ridge back towards Howgill.

I soon realised my mistake & back-trod a hundred feet or so, then headed north east a little where upon I would pick up the main ridge path again.

Back on the path once more.
I pass a walker heading in the opposite direction towards Calders in what seemed like a hurry, we still managed to pass on our good mornings even though it was well past midday.

The Calf summit trig point.

The Calf was reached shortly after a slight pull from the main ridge path, it was here I noticed that the wind had picked up quite notably as my right was starting to do exactly what the wind was telling it to do!

Best not hang around.

Bush Howe opens up ahead as it seems the cloud is starting to lift a little.

My walked changed from this point onwards as slowly but surely the cloud began to lift  opening up vistas of my surroundings, I stop a while to watch the event unfold taking in all the directions then before I knew it, I was cloud free.

A strange yet satisfying feeling ensues.

Here, looking back at a cloudless ridge towards The Calf & beyond, Calders.


Fell Head seen from Bush Howe summit.

Fell Head is my last summit of this ridge walk, I feel I have been teased by mother nature in allowing me the visibility right at the end of my walk.

I guess I have to get the camera out again & see what I can make of my new surroundings!

Here looking east towards Cobles (right) together with Wind Scarth (left) The West Fell ridge can be seen in the background.

Fell Head from Windscarth Wyke.
I think if the Howgill can have its own Windy Gap Windscarth Wyke would be it. The ascent/descent is much more steeper than it looks, or it could just be that the tired legs were beginning to kick in.

The White Fell ridge seen descending towards Long Rigg Beck.

Here looking back along the ridge from Breaks Head (Fell Head) towards Bush Howe, The Calf, Calders, Arant Haw & a distant Winder.
I feel pretty blessed that I am able to see the summits I have just climbed, after all I don’t walk these fells as often as I do the Lakeland fells.

Approaching Fell Head summit (foreground)

My ridge route seen from Fell Head summit cairn.
By the time I reached Fell Head not only had I lost the cloud it was really starting to heat up so despite the wind I lose a few layers & make my way over to Fell Head secondary summit under a warm sun & blue skies.

Distant views of Blease Fell & Uldale Head seen just before I prepare to lose some descent.

Descending Fell Head for Whins End.
It’s a pretty steep descent but thankfully the ground underfoot is dry, the ridge isn’t descended all the way as I make a left where the ridge evens out. The path here passes through Beck Houses Gate & is pretty easy to follow.

My last view of The Calf, Calders & Arant Haw before I drop into the valley below.

The Whinfell Ridge seen across the M6 Motorway.

Fell Head.

The skies were turning more like spring with every step & so too was the warmth from the sun which by now beamed down from an almost cloudless sky.

What a contrast to my last few hours when I couldn’t see a matter of feet in every direction.

Fell Head (left) & Brown Moor (right) seen from Beck House Farm.

Howgill Lane.

It’s difficult to put this walk into perspective, while my senses went into overload during my time spent in low cloud which all of sudden came to an abrupt stop… dare I say I was quite enjoying that cloud & all that it brought me.

As for the camera of course I couldn’t put it down, each shot recorded in memory, some of which just don’t do the walk any justice at all.


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