Date - 22nd July 2012 Distance - 6.75 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL19
Start point - Layby near Handley's Bridge (SD 709978)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Harter Fell 1712 521 NY 7210 0023
Little Harter Fell 1569 478 NY 7187 0053
Adamthwaite Bank 1578 481 NY 7102 0067
Wandale Hill 1624 497 SD 7054 9901



It was Thursday, and Allen, Shaun and Tetley sitting reading and dozing at times, when Grizzly and Little Eric came in, looking rather excited.

"Dad is planning to take us walking on Sunday", said Grizzly.

"Where?", asked Allen

"To the Howgills", replied Little Eric. "Last year walks were concentrated on trying to complete the Birketts, so completing the Howgills for me rather got sidelined. Conscious of this, Dad has decided it is time he gave this matter some attention again."

"I'm pleased for you", said Tetley. "I love the Howgills. Such solitude. In all the walks we have done, we have met very few other walkers."

"Which ones is he planning to take us to?", asked Shaun.

"Harter Fell, Adamthwaite Bank & Wandale Hill, and of course there is Little Harter Fell too", replied Little Eric. "It will reduce my outstanding by nearly 50%."

So that was that, but then our wash out summer, rather put the cat among the pigeons. By Friday night the forecast had changed to rain, with the better weather further west in the Lake District. Finding this out, our pal was rather down in the paw, and Allen tried to cheer him up by suggesting his Outlying challenge could be progressed.

"Yes that would be good, but I so wanted to get those Howgills bagged", he replied.

Dad meanwhile was trying to think of an alternative plan, saying to us, "the weather is so unpredictable."

By Saturday morning the forecast was still the same, and it looked like we would be in the Lakes. In the afternoon, he was on duty in the Lifeboat shop, and when he got home, checked the forecast once again. "Well I'll be damned!", he exclaimed. "The forecast has changed yet again, and it is now dry for the Howgills. So it is back to plan A."

"Great", shouted Little Eric.

"That's the British weather for you", remarked Allen.


The Walk

As Dad loaded up his gear, we dashed out calling, "goodbye Uncle Brian, have a nice quiet day."

"I will. You enjoy the walk and tell Dad to take care."

The route was north on the M6, to junction 37 for Sedbergh and then down Black Horse Hill, and through the town.

"Take the road to Kirkby Stephen", called out Tetley.

This took us under Crook, Sickers Fell and Knott, and on to come to Cautley and the Cross Keys Hotel.

"Are you going there for a meal afterwards?", asked Allen.

"Possibly, but it just depends how busy it is", Dad replied.

Soon we came to a layby, where Dad pulled off. "There are a number of these along here, and I am not sure if we have gone far enough yet." He checked the grid reference against the map, then jumped back in the car. "We need to go on a bit further as I thought."

Rounding a bend, Shaun called out, "that looks more like it."

The day was dry but cloudy and a strong wind that blew nearly all the time, especially on the tops. As Dad got out of the car, he said, "it's not a day for shorts, so a good job I brought my walking trousers too."

So Dad changed and all ready, we settled in his rucksack, and off we went walking on along the road to cross Rawthey Bridge.

Shaun advised, "it's the second signed path on the left that we want."

Immediately we crossed the river by the narrow gated footbridge...

...and then climbed steeply up the field to a stile. Beyond, the next pasture was crossed to another stile, and so to the buildings of Murthwaite.

Just before reaching them, there was a group of horses with foals. We were a little uneasy passing them, bearing in mind there were young, but in the event, there was not problem at all. "Can you get a picture for the story Dad?" asked Grizzly.

Rounding the buildings, Shaun instructed, "continue right, ignoring paths left and right, to join the bridleway that leads eventually to the road near Adamthwaite."

"That must be Harter Fell over to the right," said Little Eric.

"Yes pal", agreed Allen.

The Howgills generally are rather green and so do not provide a great deal of contrast, for photographic purposes. The cloudy conditions today, did not help matters either, but we really felt at this point in the story there should be a shot of Harter Fell. Although, as Dad says this is not exactly the most brilliant of pictures, here is the one taken on a much sunnier day in April 2005, when we first climbed this fell.

Following the bridleway, meandering below the fell, we then came to a green path going off half right and ascending. "That's the route to the summit", called out Tetley.

It was here too that we saw the only other people on the walk today. A group of horse riders being led by a guide.

Climbing the green path this led to a wide and desolate hollow. Here the rather vague path loops back right, and then left to the cairn at the summit.

"It's very windy lads", remarked Dad. "Like some other days we have had on these fells."

"Like last year when we did Kensgriff and Yarlside in the snow", replied Tetley.

"Whatever, we are determined to have our pictures taken at every summit", added Allen. "We have to for Little Eric's sake."

"Thanks pal", replied Little Eric.

So, we settled by the cairn and hung in as best we could, although Tetley was blown over and had to right himself, before Dad quickly then snapped the shot. We suppose that it is little wonder our pals at home refer to us as the intrepid adventurers.

Safely tucked in the rucksack once again, a path led down in a north-westerly direction, and this was followed, over a rise, and then on to a second higher rise. "This is the subsidiary summit known as Little Harter Fell" said Grizzly. "The cairn is just a little way to the right of the path."

Here we once again we hung in against the wind for a picture. "Yippee", cheered Little Eric. "That's two more Howgills bagged."

All the time there were extensive views of the Howgills in the south to north arc, all having been climbed before, most more than once, and we chatted amongst ourselves, recalling those adventures. Here is Yarlside and Kensgriff, bathed for once today in sunshine.

Grizzly recalled, "from Kensgriff, on the right, a path leads ahead and down to the Saddle, where the ascent of Yarlside is made to its right end."

"That ascent was very steep", went on Allen. "Like a number of the Howgills, Simon's Seat being another one, the summits are only attained by very steep approaches."

Regaining the path, it was on down towards the narrow road that serves the farm of Adamthwaite.

In the main the upper slopes of Harter Fell are clothed in rough tussocky grass, but at one point there was an area of fine grass that was carpeted with daisies and some buttercups. As is sometimes the case the picture does not do real justice to the actual scene.

At the road, on the opposite side rose Adamthwaite Bank, our next objective.

"For some reason, Wainwright did not include this summit in his walk, rather his directions are to follow the road left to the farm", said Shaun.

"That is the case with a number of other tops too, on other walks in the book. However Dad and Uncle Eric scoured the map to include these too, making our listing represent a comprehensive exploration of the Howgills", added Tetley.

Beyond the road there was some rough ground to cross, before we actually started to climb.

"I'm going to go a little to the right, to gain the ridge and hopefully make the ascent a bit easier", said Dad.

It was still another steep ascent, but height was gained more quickly, and before long we were at the tiny cairn marking the summit, where we huddled closely together, clinging on to each other for the picture.

"I presume that is the last summit, Wandale Hill", pointed Little Eric. "How do we get there?"

"Walk down off the fell, to join the bridleway to the right of the farm", replied Shaun.

As we did Wandale stretched away beyond Adamthwaite Farm. This is a shot from 2005. Taken with Dad's very first digital camera, it is not as sharp as the images he can get now.

"This is the same bridleway we walked earlier to get to Harter Fell, but now we are at its far end", commented Grizzly.

"We go right, through a gate in a cross wall, then on to pass a barn", said Shaun.

"Well there is a big barn just ahead", called out Little Eric.

"That's not the one Wainwright refers to. It's too modern bearing in mind the book was published in 1972", replied Tetley.

He was correct, as when we got through the gate, Allen pointed left, "there's the old stone barn. It's in a rather ruinous state, too."

What was of more interest however, was this huge block of stone that has been erected. Taking a closer look, Tetley said, "there is nothing written or carved into it, and nothing to say why it is here."

What we do know if that is was certainly here in September 2006, when we repeated the walk with Uncle Eric, as Dad took a picture. The one below was taken on today's walk. Adamthwaite Bank is the hill behind.

"Continue ahead and then take the gate in the wall on the left", said Shaun.

The path now disappeared in the long grass, muddy ground and bog, exacerbated by all the rain this year. Fortunately the gate was not very far along. Once through this and crossing the stream called Adamthwaite Sike in the process, the bridleway emerged again. Now on access land again and free of any obstacles, we were set for the ascent of Wandale Hill. After a further short way along the bridleway, Dad struck off left over the trackless rough ground to make the 400ft or so climb to the summit.

The top is marked by a tiny pool...

...with just as few yards beyond a tiny cairn.

"Yippee", cheered Little Eric. "That's all the four summits bagged. Come on pals let's sit by the cairn."

That done we were glad to get back into the rucksack out of the wind. The route was now down the south-east ridge, to come to cross wall near its corner with wall on left, with a fairly recently constructed wooden step stile.

"We go over that stile", said Shaun.

Beyond, the ground descended steeply to reach a good bridleway track. "Right here through the gate", called out Shaun.

The track led eventually to the buildings of Narthwaite. A number of paths intersect here, and as a consequence there are a plethora of waymarks. However finding our route was easy, as all we had to do was walk along the metalled access track, all the way down to the road, crossing Handley's Bridge over the River Rawthey to reach it.

Just a short walk left along the road brought us to the car, where we quickly decamped from the rucksack and dived into the car, to get out of the wind.

"A big thank you from me Dad, for doing this. I am now much nearer completing this challenge", said Little Eric.

"You're welcome", Dad replied.

"So it's the Cross Keys now?" Tetley asked.

"Well I have had second thoughts and I want to have a bit of a drive in the car, so I'm going to Elaine's at Feizor, even though I will be there tomorrow with Uncle Brian", Dad replied.

When he walked in Elaine expressed surprise, saying, "what are you doing here?"

He had the lovely chicken & leek bake with chips and vegetables, and of course a pot of tea. It was so filling that he could not manage a pudding. We wondered if Dad was sickening for something! Jonathan, Elaine's husband came down and sat chatting to Dad for a while, as did Elaine too.

Then we ambled on home, after a good day out.


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