Author Topic: TR - Howgills North West - Fell Head, Simonís Seat, Uldale Head  (Read 558 times)

richardh1905

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Fell Head, Simonís Seat, Uldale Head

31st March 2021


Lockdown is easing and we are free to travel at last! To celebrate, I arranged to meet with a friend, K, whom I hadnít seen for a year, and go for a wander in the Northern Howgills.



After coaxing my sonís elderly car into life, I headed up the M6 to Tebay, before doubling back down the Fairmile Road to our appointed meeting place just south of the Carlingill Bridge. Weather gorgeous, if a little hazy. I arrived just after 0900, a few minutes before K.

Our plans were delightfully vague, just head up into the hills and see where our feet took us. The relatively easy north western slopes of Linghaw allowed us to gain height without too much pain, a good opportunity to chat and catch up. The ridge provides a good view into the depths of Carlin Gill, and the views unfolding behind us werenít bad either, despite the haze. Less welcome were a series of lines carved into the steepest part of the climb Ė someone has been up here with a scrambler, and has been ripping the ground to shreds.


Looking back towards the Tebay Gorge from the climb up Linghaw. Blease Fell is the steep hill to the right.

At the top of Linghaw, we pondered our way forward. I didnít fancy the path that traverses steep ground above Black Force, as I had the dog with me, and the plod up to Fell Head looked unappealing. Instead we took a track that traversed above the Black Force path, but doubled back up Fell Head when the track petered out. A short climb took us to the top, where we met our one and only fellow walker of the day.


The view down towards Carlin Gill.
 

The view to the North East. Simon's Seat is the prominent hill far right.

After a brief detour to peep down into the depths of the Long Rigg Beck valley, we continued easily along the flat top of Fell Head, the sound of the many skylarks at last replacing that of the M6. Decision time again Ė to continue on to The Calf, or head off into the complex tangle of lesser hills and steep sided valleys to the north. The lure of the unknown proved strongest, so we headed northwards along  broad grassy ridge towards Simonís Seat, an infrequently used quad bike track and gentle gradient making for an easy descent.


The view east from our descent ridge. Randygill Top and Yarlside are the two prominent rounded hills, Coble in the foreground


Descending northwards towards Simonís Seat, the Northern Pennines lost in the haze.

The climb up Simonís Seat was short and sharp, and I suddenly ran out of steam. K had had the sense to have a snack on the way up Linghaw, but I had not bothered; now it felt as though someone had just turned off a tap. No matter Ė the skylarks were singing and the south facing grassy slope was an excellent place for a stop, and we really soaked up the atmosphere of these special hills.


Looking south over Coble towards The Calf, from Simonís Seat. The tangle of steep sided valleys are traps for the careless navigator.

After our pit stop, we made short work of the remaining climb and soon reached the summit. The cairn was tiny, but even so, I wondered where the stones had come from amongst the expanse of grass.


The view west from the top of Simonís Seat.

We now had to decide what to do with the rest of the day. The remote Langdale valley, a place that I feel drawn to, was just to the east, temptingly close, but down a steep slope and going that way would commit us to a lot of re-ascent and a long walk back. It was only 11:45 but we could see that we had some difficult ground to negotiate, so we prudently but reluctantly decided to start making our way back.

Two valleys separated us from Illgill Head, from where we could descend down a zig zagging track to the Fairmile Road. We aimed for a low saddle in the ridge on the other side of Churn Gill, and headed off across country before angling down towards the beck. We were now getting the full Howgills experience, cutting down a steep trackless hillside to a remote valley, the only sign of man being an old sheepfold squeezed into the narrow valley bottom Ė no tracks, fences or walls at all.


Churn Gill really felt like the middle of nowhere.


Tess, our English Springer Spaniel, helped me on the climbs

We crossed the stream and climbed the steep slopes on the far side, a rising traverse across the grassy hillside. Tess had been pretty well behaved on the walk, giving me a helpful pull on the climbs, and coming to heel when required, but she rather blotted her copybook when she ate the decaying horns off an old sheepís skull that she found.

Crossing the saddle, we descended towards Blakethwaite Bottom, an unusually large area of flat land between Uldale and Carlin Gill. Ahead of us lay a steep haul up onto Uldale Head. We stopped for lunch half way up, an opportunity to recharge the batteries and again soak up the atmosphere.


Blakethwaite Bottom, with Fell Head and the scar of Black Force beyond

The top of Uldale Head was pleasant, a broad undulating ridge with a track along it. There was a false summit, but the highest point, marked by a cairn even more insignificant than that on Simonís Seat, was just a short stroll away. We then followed a track westwards for a while, but had to strike off down a shallow grassy slope when the track took a turn northwards. I wasnít quite sure where we would strike the zig zags, but I knew that the path crossed the beck to the north, so we angled that way, spotting the path as the ground steepened.


Looking down the eastern arm of Weasel Gill towards Blease Fell, Tess waiting patiently

The path followed the eastern branch of Weasel Gill for a while, before turning south and zig-zagging down the open slopes towards Carlin Gill. I really enjoyed this part of the walk, easy going, good company, beautiful views, and that feeling of achievement that you get towards the end of a good day on the hill.

Carlin Gill interrupted my reverie though Ė after all the recent rain, there was no way to cross dry shod. We could have stuck to the north bank and worked our way down to the bridge, but there was a good path on the far side and it was the end of the walk, so, sod it, in we went. Somehow it seemed a fitting finish to a memorable day crossing remote rough country.


Looking up Carlin Gill Ė a route for another day


We got wet feet crossing Carlin Gill!


Uldale Head from above the confluence of Carlin Gill and Weasel Gill
« Last Edit: 21:51:20, 01/04/21 by richardh1905 »
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Ridge

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Wonderful pictures Richard, pleased to see that people are getting out and about again  O0

karl h

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Lovely pics and TR Richard O0
The Howgills are just the place for vague wandering
show your love for Lady Nature. And she will come back again.
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vghikers

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A grand Howgill circuit and a real tonic after the restrictions  O0

It made me think of the merciless steep grassy slopes of the Howgills and how our poor legs (and everything else) would manage after this last year... oh dear!  :o

richardh1905

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Wonderful pictures Richard, pleased to see that people are getting out and about again  O0

Thanks Ridge - rather hazy - but still absolutely wonderful up there.


Lovely pics and TR Richard
The Howgills are just the place for vague wandering

Thanks Karl - indeed they are - especially the largely forgotten northern half - a wonderfully compelling tangle of hills and steep sided valleys just made for vague wandering.  :)
« Last Edit: 08:48:38, 02/04/21 by richardh1905 »
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richardh1905

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A grand Howgill circuit and a real tonic after the restrictions  O0

It made me think of the merciless steep grassy slopes of the Howgills and how our poor legs (and everything else) would manage after this last year... oh dear!  :o


Thanks VG - Indeed it was! Great to catch up with my friend too.

Yes, I completely ran out of steam on Simon's Seat, and after my modest 7 mile wander I was just as knackered as after 14 brisk miles along the lanes and byways north of Grange a couple of weeks ago.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that one hill mile is worth two on the flat!  :D
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WhitstableDave

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Thanks VG - Indeed it was! Great to catch up with my friend too.

Yes, I completely ran out of steam on Simon's Seat, and after my modest 7 mile wander I was just as knackered as after 14 brisk miles along the lanes and byways north of Grange a couple of weeks ago.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that one hill mile is worth two on the flat!  :D

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you usually get one downhill mile for every one uphill mile (on a circular route)?..  ;)

Joking aside, I just love the scenery and the total emptiness of the area. We must pay a visit one day.  O0

richardh1905

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you usually get one downhill mile for every one uphill mile (on a circular route)?..  ;)

Joking aside, I just love the scenery and the total emptiness of the area. We must pay a visit one day.  O0


I only wish it did work that way!  :D


Do visit - the Howgills are very rewarding.  :)
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Andies

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Thanks for posting your TR Richard, really enjoyed it as we (especially Mrs A) are big fans of the Howgills O0
We did an initially similar walk September 2019 starting as you did but rather than Simon's Seat we went onto Docker Knott and Hand Lake, then retraced back round Fell Head, Linghaw to Carlingill Bridge. Plenty of up and down but a great walk.
Hopefully we will be staying nearby the first week of May so intend to try to complete the Howgill tops having just Simon's Seat and Brown Moor left to do. The plan is to do as you did then retrace to Fell Head before working south to take in Brown Moor and then dropping down to the road to return; but I wonder about that as it will mean going through a farm, which in the current climate I am a little concerned about.
This all assumes we are still allowed to get away under the roadmap and that we can actually cope with hill walking after all this time. Not much scope for practice in Suffolk  :-\

richardh1905

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Thanks Andies, it is a pleasure to write about my experience on such wonderful hills.  :)


Your mention of Brown Moor had me looking at the map, as I have not seen it mentioned before. If you are worried about access through the farm, then you could head north from Brown Moor, traversing across the hillside to pick up the path that cuts across Whin's End. This path traverses across the western flank of Fell End and takes you to Linghaw, from where you can descend easily to the Fairmile Road. I would be tempted to go this way irrespective of the farm - looks like a good path.


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Skip

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Very nice photos and write-up, Richard - thank you
Skip

GinAndPlatonic

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 Hazy sunshine can lend itself to a serene sort of solitude , I like the look of those rolling hills .  O0
Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because it's excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience - Adam Smith

pdstsp

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Lovely stuff Richard - bet Tess is glad to be back on the hills!

richardh1905

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Very nice photos and write-up, Richard - thank you


Thanks Skip  :)
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richardh1905

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Hazy sunshine can lend itself to a serene sort of solitude , I like the look of those rolling hills .  O0


It was a wonderful day.
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