Shaun, Tetley, Allen & Grizzly complete the Howgills challenge


Date - 3rd November 2010 Distance - 6 miles
Ascent -
2080 ft
Map - OL19
Start point - Parking area near Fairmile Gate (SD 629980)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Castley Knotts 1184 361 SD 6419 9629
Brown Moor 1352 412 SD 6440 9689
Linghaw 1638 500 SD 6376 9854



"We are supposed to be walking tomorrow", remarked Grizzly.

"I know", replied Tetley, "but the weather forecast is for it to rain heavily most of the day."

"Spot on pal", said Allen who had just strolled in, with a glum look on his face. "Dad has just finished talking to Uncle Eric, and the walk has been called off. There is a better outlook for Wednesday, so they have agreed to talk again tomorrow night."

"Has Dad had any thoughts on where we might go, if we managed to get out on Wednesday?", Grizzly asked.

"Well I heard him talking to Shaun earlier, but I am not sure of the outcome", replied Allen.

Just then Shaun trotted in with Little Eric riding on his back as usual. "Dad did indeed chat to me earlier, and he would dearly like to do that last Howgill walk, as it would see us finally complete that challenge."

"That would be great", enthused Allen excitedly. "Dad was so good to reclimb to those 18 summits earlier this year, to ensure that Shaun, Tetley, Grizzly & I can complete the challenge at the same time."

"He certainly is the best Dad in all the world", cried Tetley.

So we all slept soundly that night, and then rested and relaxed during Tuesday. The forecast was exactly right, heavy rain all day, so we did not venture a paw outside the door. It had been agreed that Allen would be on watch, and as soon as he had found out what Dad and Uncle Eric had agreed, he dashed in to tell us all. We did not need him to tell us that a walk was on, as the wide grin on his face told all.

"Well?", said Grizzly

"Yes thank you", said Allen letting out a bellow of laughter. Then seriously he went on, "Uncle Eric was for cancelling again tomorrow as the forecast he had seen was for more rain. However Dad read out to him the Met Office forecast, which gives dry weather, although it will get increasingly cloudy by late afternoon. This changed Uncle Eric's mind, and when Dad suggested doing the Howgill walk, he was happy to agree."

"Magic", cried Shaun. "It is over two weeks since we last walked, so I can't wait to get out into the fresh air."


The Walk

We were not setting out as early as we have had to do on many walks, especially those in the past when we were walking with Uncle Bob in Yorkshire. Nevertheless, Shaun ensured we were up quite early, so that we did not have to rush getting the sandwiches etc. made and safely stowed in Allen's rucksack.

About 08:20, we dashed out and climbed into the car for the drive to Uncle Eric's in Kendal.

"Good morning Uncle Eric", said Tetley on behalf of us all. "So good to see you and be walking with you today."

"Hello lads. Nice to see you too. It is going to be a momentous day for you completing the Howgill Fells."

Dad quickly transferred his kit, and with us settled on the back seat, we were off in Uncle Eric's car. The route was along the road out of Kendal towards Tebay.

As it climbed, we crossed the railway line and a house on the left. Opposite was a footpath sign, and Grizzly remarked, "that's where we walked up to Benson Knott, that marks the summit of Hayfell."

Allen added, "it was great when we finally climbed that fell, as the road we live on is named after it."

"It is only just over 1000ft, but there were superb views from the summit. It proves again that it is not necessary to be on the highest fells to get them", said Tetley. Hayfell

Soon after passing through the pretty village of Grayrigg, the Howgills came into view, and amongst those in the foreground were our targets for today.

"There's Linghaw, Lads", said Uncle Eric

"It will be a cause for celebration when we reach it's summit later today, the end of another challenge", replied Allen, the excitement and anticipation clear in his voice.

Rounding the corner the road dropped down, and in no time we were at the junction, where we took the road right, signed Carlingill, passing immediately under the motorway and railway bridges and passing then on the right the site of Low Borrowbridge Roman Fort.

"We came along this road in March to the same starting place as today", said Tetley. "Then we climbed four summits including Fell Head."

"I remember", went on Grizzly. "That ascent was truly unrelentingly steep. For Dad's sake I am glad we are not having to do that today."

"I also remember how narrow this road is, so I think we should keep our paws well and truly crossed that we do not meet any other vehicles coming the opposite direction", said Allen.

Thankfully we didn't, and Uncle Eric safely parked in the wide flat area below the slopes of Linghaw.

While Dad and Uncle Eric were getting ready, we took the opportunity to try to get in our minds, which way would be best for us to make the descent this afternoon. Shaun was looking at the map and relating it to the fell. "As we look at Linghaw, it would seem best to descend just to the left of the ravine of Dry Gill. We should then pick up a path leading down to here."

It was cloudy as we set off, but occasionally there were to be glimpses of sun. The good thing was that it was to remain dry throughout, and the rather gusty wind that we experienced on the first two tops had moderated by the time we reached Linghaw.

Ready for the off, Shaun said, "we walk a few yards back along the road then take the path left just beyond the wall corner."

This dropped steadily down, and looking right, Grizzly said "what a fine view along the Lune Gorge. We can see on the slopes the gantries of the West Coast main railway line, above which again runs the M6 motorway. "

"That's Blease Fell in the centre", called out Allen. "One of five catch-ups you took me too, last February. Thanks a lot Dad." Tebaygill Horseshoe

After a final short steep section, we passed through the gate in the wall, walking on to pass the building called Howgill Head.

Deserted but structurally sound, Shaun mused, "I wonder if in the past it was used as a shepherd's hut."

"There were obviously no inside 'facilities', as that small tumbledown outhouse to the left, is all that remains of the 'thunderbox'", remarked Dad.

Shaun instructed, "continue across the pasture, to come to and cross the footbridge over Fairmile Beck."

As we did, Little Eric commented, "it's in spate after yesterdays' rain, the water rushing down to join the River Lune."

Beyond, stands this signpost.

"Towards Crook o' Lune is the first part of our route", said Shaun. "It will take us past Low Wilkinson's Farm, then Mire Head and on to Brunt Sike."

Brunt Sike, once a farm, had recently been converted into a stylish residence. Here the path divided, Shaun saying, "we go left through the gate just beyond the buildings and then cross the fields and down to Gate House, where it is just a short walk to the road."

"That section across the fields was very pleasant and completely new to us all", said Allen.

"And more importantly avoided a mile of road walking" added Uncle Eric.

Now however, there was no option but to walk along the Howgill Lane, for about half a mile to Four Lane Ends.

Shaun, who had been looking at the map remarked, "it shows that this lane and indeed Fairmile Road, that we drove along to the start is on the route of a Roman Road, which I suppose is logical, as there was a fort a Low Borrow Bridge."

"Lately we seem we have been walking a lot in the footsteps of the Romans, with our walk to High Street, when we climbed Froswick etc, and seeing the Hard Knott Fort when we climbed Harter Fell", replied Little Eric.

As we had walked along from Gate House, looking left over the fields, Grizzly said , "there's our first objective Castley Knotts."

"The ascent does not look to be too difficult", said Tetley.

"That would be, if only we could climb up the nose", replied Uncle Eric. "However, that route is on private land, so we have no alternative, but to take the bridleway on the right of the hill to the sheepfold, where the access land begins. There we climb up left, the slope being unfortunately very steep indeed."

So, at Four Lane Ends, we turned left, first to the terrace of houses that is Cookson's Tenement, then on to pass Castley Farm. Staying on the bridleway we arrived at a short section of track enclosed by a gate at either end, by the sheepfold.

"Look at all the sheep in there", pointed Tetley. "You will be taking a picture of course Dad."

"Huh", grunted Allen. "And he will insist on it being included in the story."

After Uncle Eric had passed them, Dad then let them settle, before snapping the shot.

Castley Knotts rose to the left, and the climb was indeed every bit as steep as Uncle Eric had said. They took their time, pausing to get their breath and enjoy the panorama of the the hills to the east. On the final section the gradient eased, and we topped out on the ridge, where a short stroll to the right brought us to the small rocky outcrop that is the highest point.

Eager to record the achievement, Allen encouraged, "come on pals let's sit in the lee of the rock for our picture."

"That's our next summit Brown Moor across the depression", pointed Tetley. "Behind is bulk of Fell Head that we climbed in March, via that steep and unrelenting ridge to the left."

"Yes" sighed Dad. "I am glad not to have to contemplate it today."

After Castley Knotts the walk to Brown Moor was easy. The summit is marked by two small parallel ridges. "They are seemingly equal in height", commented Little Eric, "but the one to the left has a small cairn, so that is where will sit for our picture."

We did not immediately stir from the cairn, as we wanted to fully take in and appreciate the dramatic view east. Just a breathtaking sweep of fells, with steep sided ridges running down towards us. Most northerly in view was Fell Head, seen in the picture earlier, then Bush Howe, White Fell, Bram Rigg, Calders & Arrant Haw. As far as we could see they were deserted and indeed we saw no other walkers all the day. This has been the case on so many of our Howgill walks, so if you want solitude this area is the place to be.

"Thanks to you Dad, we have been to all those tops this year", said Allen.

"I could look at the view all day", said Uncle Eric, "but we had better be getting on again."

Before doing so, we studied the landscape ahead to plan what was the best route.

"We have to get to the shoulder where the path climbs Fell Head", said Uncle Eric. "So the last thing we want to do is make for the footpath that rises from Gate House. That will involve a steep descent, and we will then only have to make a steep climb to the shoulder"

"Quite right", agreed Shaun.

Uncle Eric then said, "we descend to the col above Long Rigg Gill, but then keep up across the lower slopes of Fell Head. I know there is a narrow path, as I found it when I did this walk on my own."

So this is what we did, and before long we had reached the shoulder of Fell Head, above the subsidiary top of Whins End. Here a narrow path descended half right to finally join the footpath we had ignored earlier. It was wide, enough we thought to have been used by more than just foot traffic in the past. It descended, to turn sharp left, as it crossed the stream called Blind Gill, which starts on the steep slopes of Fell Head, and runs into the Fairmile Beck.

Climbing we reached a brow, where Tetley called out, "there's Linghaw."

Grizzly said, "unlike the Lakeland Fells, which are more rocky by nature, the Howgills are grassy, and thus rather featureless, so we will have to apologise in the story for the lack of real interest in this picture."

Allen said, "there is one thing of interest that being the ravine in the foreground. Within runs the Fairmile Beck that we crossed by the footbridge earlier. If we follow it right it is possible to make out the source of the beck."

The path curved right and we came to a crossroads. Shaun said, "going ahead leads under Blake Ridge to Carlingill and the dramatic waterfall of Black Force, that we visited with you, Uncle Eric, on the walk in December 2008. To the right the steep path leads up Fell Head. Our route is left to Linghaw along the clear path, that climbs gently to its summit."

"Not far now", said Allen excitedly.

"No pal", replied Tetley. "Another challenge on the verge of completion."

"It will have taken me just over ten years to complete, as my first tops were reached in July 2000, when I went to the source of the River Lune.", said Shaun. "That was before most of you were adopted."

Soon we crested the top, the highest point being just a few yards to the left of the path.

"Hooray", we all cheered, and jumping out Allen did somersaults across the grass.

"Congratulations Gerry and Lads", said Uncle Eric, and they then celebrated, as is the tradition at the summits, with a piece of Kendal Mint Cake.

We gave each other a hug.

Unlike the other tops today, no cairn marks the summit, so Uncle Eric and Dad's sticks were planted either side of us and Dad got the flag out.

Of course we could not have achieved this challenge without our Dad, who then posed with us to mark the occasion for him.

The path continued north west leading down to the road at Carlingill Bridge. "This will mean having to walk back about a mile on the road", said Tetley.

"So as planned we should head south west over the rough grass", said Grizzly.

Very soon we could see Uncle Eric's car distantly below. Picking up a path, we descended the upper part of the ravine of Dry Gill, before contouring right to pick up the path that led to the car.

As we approached we saw that two of the many wild horses that roam the Howgill Fells, were grazing. "What a lovely sight", said Little Eric.

It had been too windy and cold to make a stop on the walk for a picnic, so we and Dad and Uncle Eric enjoyed it now in the warmth and shelter of the car. Then Uncle Eric drove us back along the narrow road, where fortunately again we did not meet another car.

"Time for tea now?", said Tetley.

"Yes lad", replied Dad. "We are going to see Steve and Joanne at The Old School Tearoom in Tebay."

A refreshing pot of tea and a piece of cake provided the celebration of completion of the challenge. We had a special cake of our own, made by Tetley, together with some Black Sheep beer that Shaun had brought.

As we drove home, Allen said, "thanks for another great day out, Dad. We can now add the Howgills to the Wainwrights and Wainwright Outlying Fells, of challenges completed."

Our pal, Little Eric, who only joined the club in March 2008, did not finish the challenge, and he said again, "I do not expect you to climb those hills again just for me"

This is perhaps rightly the case for the Wainwrights, but in respect of the Howgills, Dad noted later when updating the records, that he has in fact only 12 of the 66 to do.

"That's about 5 or 6 walks, so in this case I intend to try and make an exception and climb those 12 fells again for you Little Eric, so that at least you will have completed one of the challenges", said Dad.

"Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart", replied Little Eric.


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