Author Topic: TR - Northern Howgills  (Read 2091 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Northern Howgills
« on: 17:47:27, 21/05/20 »
Northern Howgills - Hooksey, Randygill Top, Kensgriff, Yarlside, Bowderdale

20th May 2020

I have had my eye on the Northern Howgills for some time now, and now that lockdown has been relaxed, I felt justified in venturing out for our first proper walk in the hills since March. I say 'our' as my wife and two sons accompanied me, my youngest can put it down as PE as far as school home working is concerned, all part of his education. The forecast was good, so we travelled light, but my new ebay sun hat had not yet arrived, something that I was to regret later in the day....

We were out of the house at 0830 and 'on the hill' just after 0915, a modest 45 minute drive up the M6 from Grange-over-Sands. We parked maybe half a mile east of the hamlet of Bowderdale, very accessible as it was only a few miles from the Tebay junction of the M6. I deliberately avoided the houses at Bowderdale, instead choosing a remote spot on the minor road running south to Scar Sikes farm, on a gently sloping piece of grass just past a gate on the left hand (eastern) side of the road - HERE.



We headed southwards, initially along the road, then on to a farm track which gradually climbed up onto the northern ridge of Hooksey. Very pleasant views unfolding all around us, the Howgills ahead, and the high Northern Pennines behind. To the west I could just make out the Scafell range and Great Gable in the far distance. The climb up onto and along the Hooksey ridge was easy, and we reached two stones marking what might have been the highest point of the broad grassy ridge without too much effort (586m).


Looking back northwards from the farm track, Cross Fell to the left


The view south from Hooksey - Randygill Top to the left, Yarlside centre, The Calf to the right


A jumble of hills to the west


These erosion gullies on Green Bell were particularly striking, Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell in the distance

Randygill Top (624m) was our next objective, and the view ahead suggested that it would be a tough climb, so it proved. I switched to 'low gear' and plodded up, slow and steady in the heat (the cooling southerly breeze had disappeared). I popped out onto the rounded top, marked by a small cairn, and waited whilst my family caught up.


The steep climb up the northern slopes of Randygill Top, the Northern Pennines in the far distance


Another view of Green Bell from the slopes of Randygill Top - a hill for another day


The view south from Randygill Top - Yarlside centre left and the highest Howgill tops centre right. The distant hill to the left is Crag Hill/Great Coum south of Dentdale.

WE didn't stop but pressed on south eastwards to Kensgriff (574m), an unassuming hill from this direction. I missed the path initially, but angled eastwards and soon picked it up again - a compass would be essential up here in thick weather as the topography is complex, and there is some steep ground. My son spotted a lizard basing in the sun on the descent.

Tess our spaniel had a drink from a small pool at the col; we then walked up the gently sloping grassy ridge to the summit, and had a brief rest before tackling the rather daunting ascent of Yarlside ahead.

As we descended south from Kensgriff, we watched some people picking their way down very cautiously, steep grass between areas of screes and a particularly nasty erosion gully that looked very 'fresh'. There appeared to be a path heading straight up the slopes, then left over some very steep broken ground, but I didn't fancy that, so we angled right a bit and then climbed up steep grass just to the right of some scree and a small gully, dauntingly steep but again a case of "slow and steady does it". I had a bit of a wait at the crest of the slope whilst my family caught up, a welcome rest!


Weather beaten man with hot dog on Kensgriff - eastern Lakeland Fells in the far distance


The daunting slopes of Yarlside - we ascended just to the right of the patch of scree and small gully in the centre of the picture. Note the steep ground to the left and the very nasty looking gully to the right, this would be a tricky descent in the mist


Looking back down the steep northern slopes of Yarlside - Randygill Top to the left, Kensgriff centre right, my family struggling upwards below

Once we were reunited, we continued easily up the gentle ridge to the summit of Yarlside (636m). We didn't stop at the summit, but continued onwards over the brow of the hill to get a view of Cautley Spout, the well known waterfall. This was a slight disappointment, to be honest, as it has rained so little over the last month or so. But it was still a grand view to the south, so we stopped and had lunch, sitting on a small bank of peat. Whernside and Ingleborough were visible in the distance, and we could even see a bit of hazy Pen-y-Ghent peeping out from behind Baugh Fell. Lovely.


Cautley Crag and Cautley Spout, not at it's best, to be honest, due to all the dry weather that we have been enjoying - shouldn't grumble!

We decided that we had climbed enough hills for one day, and returned over the summit towards Bowderdale. We descended the north western ridge of Yarlside, gentle at first but steepening as it plunged down into Bowderdale, but nothing like as steep as the ascent. I made a mess of crossing the river, despite it being so low, slipping on a slimy rock and putting my foot in.


Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell from the north western ridge of Yarlside, Kensgriff to the left


Bowderdale far below, a starkly beautiful remote valley - We followed the path that skirts above the west bank of Bowderdale Beck

We regrouped again before starting the long walk northwards down Bowderdale, a lovely deserted valley cutting tightly between steep hills; the only sign of man being a few tumble down sheep folds. By now we were all suffering a bit from the heat, and I regretted that my sun hat had not arrived in the post. I was glad to take a break and refill my water bottle from a mossy trickle running down the hill - with some help from Tess I had drunk my way through the two litres that I had set out with!


A view into upper Bowderdale from where we joined the path after crossing the beck


Yarlside rising dramatically above Bowderdale


Another view back up Bowderdale towards Yarlside

The path skirts above the valley floor for a couple of miles, before contouring across the western slopes above some fields. The last mile or so back to the car was very pleasant, a cuckoo calling from a spruce plantation, shady trees and buttercups by the river at Bowderdale. Arrived back at the car just after 1500 - we had been walking for almost 6 hours. Back home to a shady garden and cool beer waiting for us in the fridge!


The view down the lower part of Bowderdale


A last look up Bowderdale, Yarlside again dominating the view

9.31 miles measured on Viewranger, not counting the zig zags on the slopes and all the up and down!

PS - thank you ninthace for enthusing about Bowderdale, and for giving advice on parking :)
« Last Edit: 23:07:20, 21/05/20 by richardh1905 »
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ninthace

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #1 on: 18:01:28, 21/05/20 »
Thanks.  I don't often read trip reports but I enjoyed this one.  That there Yarlside is a steep so and so isn't it?  Not often you can get grass up your nose while walking!  Bowderdale was my first foray into the Howgills and remains my favourite.  I hope it encourages you to do more in the Howgills.  It has always seemed a waste to me that most people just do the Calf and/or the Spout and approach from the S.  There are some good routes from Tebay if you do not want to drive so a far and a very good route touring many of the ridges in one go.  You are right about navigating, even in good weather you need to have your wits about you as the paths, such as they are, are not really there for walkers' benefit and walking on whalebacks is an art in itself.
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pdstsp

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #2 on: 18:02:27, 21/05/20 »
Lovely pics Richard - looks like a great day out - particularly that ascent of Yarlside!

GinAndPlatonic

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #3 on: 18:03:42, 21/05/20 »
You can`t beat great company, great scenery and great weather... thanks for sharing.  O0
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April

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #4 on: 18:17:40, 21/05/20 »
Lovely stuff Richard  O0 You picked a cracking day for your outing  :)

Crikey, them fells look really steep. I hope to be a bit more hill fit by the time myself and beefy can do them.
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #5 on: 18:28:15, 21/05/20 »
Thanks.  I don't often read trip reports but I enjoyed this one.  That there Yarlside is a steep so and so isn't it?  Not often you can get grass up your nose while walking!  Bowderdale was my first foray into the Howgills and remains my favourite.  I hope it encourages you to do more in the Howgills.  It has always seemed a waste to me that most people just do the Calf and/or the Spout and approach from the S.  There are some good routes from Tebay if you do not want to drive so a far and a very good route touring many of the ridges in one go.  You are right about navigating, even in good weather you need to have your wits about you as the paths, such as they are, are not really there for walkers' benefit and walking on whalebacks is an art in itself.

Thanks again ninthace. That ascent of Yarlside is even steeper than that of Cuilags on Hoy, although not as sustained. A real lung burster.

I'm going to be making several more forays into the Howgills, especially the complex northern side - I have in particular got my eye on Langdale as a possible site for a wild camp once we are let fully off the leash, and there is such a complex tangle of hills and valleys in that area - it looks even more remote than Bowderdale. Green Bell looks good, too.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #6 on: 18:29:55, 21/05/20 »
Lovely pics Richard - looks like a great day out - particularly that ascent of Yarlside!


Thanks pdstsp - a great day out, although I was suffering a bit from the heat at one stage. Not too badly sunburnt, and I managed a few miles up Hampsfell with the dog in the evening - poor Tess!
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #7 on: 18:30:56, 21/05/20 »
You can`t beat great company, great scenery and great weather... thanks for sharing.  O0


Thanks G&P - yes good to get out with my family, we all enjoyed it despite the tough climbs and the heat.
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Ridge

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #8 on: 18:31:05, 21/05/20 »
Thanks for taking the time to post Richard, it looks like you had a stunning day  O0

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #9 on: 18:32:50, 21/05/20 »
Lovely stuff Richard  O0 You picked a cracking day for your outing  :)

Crikey, them fells look really steep. I hope to be a bit more hill fit by the time myself and beefy can do them.


Thanks April - We did indeed.  :)


Northern Howgills highly recommended - although I suspect that you will be adding a few of the descents to your banned list!  :D
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karl h

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #10 on: 18:40:40, 21/05/20 »
Great stuff Richard  O0


By coincidence I was going to do a Howgills walk this Sunday ( further south and to the west of where you were ) but the weather looks pants so will save it and wish for a day like you had ;)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #11 on: 18:42:47, 21/05/20 »
Thanks for taking the time to post Richard, it looks like you had a stunning day  O0


A pleasure, Ridge. I enjoy writing the reports, and I will enjoy reading them in years to come.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #12 on: 18:44:46, 21/05/20 »
Great stuff Richard  O0

By coincidence I was going to do a Howgills walk this Sunday ( further south and to the west of where you were ) but the weather looks pants so will save it and wish for a day like you had ;)


Thanks Karl; yes, weather looks a bit wild on Sunday.
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April

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #13 on: 18:53:38, 21/05/20 »
Northern Howgills highly recommended - although I suspect that you will be adding a few of the descents to your banned list!  :D

 ;D
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

vghikers

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Re: TR - Northern Howgills
« Reply #14 on: 19:35:35, 21/05/20 »
A great clear day and views in the underrated Howgills  O0
Highly recommended for beating your leg muscles into shape, and don't mention Yarlside right now, I feel shattered just thinking about it.  :)