Little Eric completes the Howgill challenge


Date - 9th June 2013 Distance - 7.75 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL19 Start point - Raisgill Bridge (NY 6351 0853)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Langdale Knott 1565 477 NY 6597 2000



It was a pleasant sunny Friday afternoon, and time for our usual tea and cakes. And so it was that Grizzly, Shaun and Tetley came in with the flasks and cake tin, to find Allen and Little Eric huddled over the iPad.

Little Eric had a worried look on his face, saying, "Dad is at the Lifeboat shop on Saturday, so I can only hope that there will be a good weather forecast for Sunday, as I so want to bag my last Howgill summit."

Allen put a reassuring paw round his shoulder as they navigated the Met Office app. Then after a few seconds he said, "look, the day is going to be fine with sunny periods and little if any risk of rain."

"Oh that's a relief", replied his pal, his face breaking out into a smile. "I just can't wait to get to the summit of Langdale Knott."

"Good news then", added Grizzly, putting the cake tin down and going off with Tetley to get the mugs and plates.

"Oooh tea", cried Allen. "Just what the doctor ordered."

"What's the cake today?", asked Little Eric.

"Cherry and coconut slice on a chocolate base", replied Grizzly.

"Of all the delicious cakes you do, that is my favourite", he replied.

"Well mind you don't eat it all and leave plenty for the rest of us, Little Eric", warned Shaun, with a stern look on his face and as he passed the steaming mugs of tea round.

"I promise" replied Little Eric, as he held out the tin, so that all his other pals could take a slice first.

Then raising his mug, Tetley said, "here's to Sunday and your successful completion of the Howgill challenge."

"Thanks pal", enthused Little Eric.


The Walk

After the seemingly endless rains last year, and the long cold winter and spring, this week we had had summer at last with warm temperatures and blue skies. And so it had been when we set off this morning from Morecambe, but as we approached Tebay on the M6, there was a little rain shower.

"I hope this is not setting the tone of the day up here", Little Eric said, worriedly.

"No lad it is only a passing shower. We will have a fine day, just you see", replied Dad, brightly.

Leaving the M6 at Tebay, we took the road to Kirkby Stephen, long straight and flat on what was once a railway line, as far as Gaisgill, where Dad turned left and drove the short distance to Raisgill Bridge, where there was a convenient place to park the car.

"Hmm, the temperature is a bit cool here", remarked Dad, looking at the screen in the car that read just 10 degrees, considerably lower that it had read at home this morning.

However it soon warmed up and Dad was able to do the walk in t-shirt and shorts for the first time since we cannot remember when. Just not sure if the world was ready for Dad's legs! [cheeky lot! Ed.]

Dad began to get ready, but was almost immediately distracted by the sheep and lambs in the field across the road, getting the camera to take a few shots.

"Oh no", cried Allen in despair once again. "I hope they all run off as he lines up the camera."

However his wishes were not granted and in fact they actually posed for him in this shot the best of a few he took.

"Well at least we will get the sheep picture out of the way early in the story", said Grizzly.

All the time, Little Eric was champing at the bit and called out rather impatiently, "can we get started."

"Yes lad, I won't be long now, so you had better get settled in the rucksack", replied Dad.

So, locking the car and the rucksack shouldered, Dad strode out in the direction we had come, to the main road, which he crossed with care, as vehicles speed on this road.

Then into the small community of Gaisgill, to take the single track road towards Longdale, a tiny hamlet. This is in fact where Wainwright starts the walk in his book, suggesting parking at the school. This is now long gone and the property is a private house, where it would not be right to park.

It seems that the weather in the early part of the year, has made it a wonderful year for buttercups, and when as we passed Ellergill Farm, Tetley called out, "just look at that field carpeted in buttercups", Dad could not resist snapping off a shot.

Soon now we were at Longdale, passing the old school, and as we did, Shaun instructed, "we should continue along the lane to Town Head, and where presented with the two gates, take the one of the left, on to Cowbound Lane."

This soon swung right and climbed between stone walls passing by the trees, as can be seen in the above picture. A rough grassy track, boggy in places, and without a doubt would have been a real nightmare to walk along last year when there was so much rain. Walled for part of the way, then open to the right, and then walled again.

As Dad soldiered on across the more rough parts, Allen said, "what a lovely flower. I wonder what it is called?"

There was silence as none of us knew the answer, but when we got home we showed the picture to our hug pal Moss, who is an expert on flowers, and straight away he said, "it's called Cuckoo Flower or Ladies Smock."

Towards the end of the lane, Grizzly, called out laughingly, " look cows, as the name implies."

Reaching the lane end and passing through the gate, our objective was now clearly ahead.

"It's not all that far now", cried Little Eric, excitedly.

Shaun said, "we go right by the wall and drop down to that small valley then walk along the stony track for about half a mile, before veering off up the fell."

"That prominent fell to the right is Middleton" remarked Tetley.

"It is one of only four in the whole of the Howgill massif, with a trig point, which if you look closely can just about be discerned. He then went on, "the other three are Green Bell, on whose slopes is the source of the River Lune, Winder that dominates Sedbergh, and The Calf which at 2218ft (676m), is the highest point."

"Wow pal, you really to have so much information at your paw tips", said Little Eric in wonder.

"Many of the other Howgills are marked by only small cairns, and even sometimes by just a single stone", went on Allen. "This is I guess because the hills are so grassy and there is little or no stones about, to build a decent cairn."

It was hard to judge exactly where the path up the fell was, and the first section was rather vague over the rough terrain, but soon we joined a clear tractor track that climbed steadily to finally reach the summit of Langdale Knott seen here with its tiny cairn and backed by Simon's Seat.

"Yippee!" shouted Little Eric. "I've done it!", as he jumped out of the rucksack and headed to the tiny cairn.

"Well done", we all called out, as we went over to shake his paw and give him a hug.

He then had his picture taken on his own, as was only right, with the book open at the appropriate page.

Then he called out, "come on pals now for the usual group picture."

"Right lads, I want to get a shot of the deep and lonely Langdale Valley, so will you be all right here on your own, as I need to walk on down the fell a little way", said Dad.

"Sure" replied Allen. "Time for lunch I say, so we will sit here and enjoy the views while we have our sandwiches and cake"

Grizzly had a surprise too, a special cake iced and with the words, 'Well Done Little Eric, on completion of the Howgill challenge'.

"Oh pal, thanks ever so much, that is very thoughtful indeed", said Little Eric with glee.

The valley cuts deep into the fells from the north. Langdale Beck, is formed from the streams called West-, East- and Middle- Grain, the latter being the furthest south rising on the upper slopes of The Calf. The fells in view are Hazelgill Knott with the prominent top of Yarlside behind left, while furthest away in the right centre, is The Calf. A quite wonderful scene.

That done, our Dad returned and sat with us to have his lunch. So peaceful, only the tweeting of the birds breaking the silence. Just the way we like it too! In fact the only other walkers we saw today were four people climbing the adjacent ridge of West Fell.

So with Little Eric's celebrations over, we descended along the clear tractor track that led finally to Archer Hill Farm, passing shortly before, this substantial, but now derelict barn.

Along the final section there were away on either side the ruins of buildings that were once houses. The map gave the names as Crag, East Gills and Dalts, this last seen here across the pastures.

"Look at that old muck spreader", laughed Grizzly. "No longer in use, but any fertiliser that was inside has made sure the grass has grown."

At Archer Hill we reached the road again and followed it the short way down to Cotegill with its farm and few houses.

Shaun said, "that's Kelleth on the far side of the valley across the main road. Wainwright's walk just returns along the road to Longdale, but as we are parked at Raisgill Bridge, it would be nicer to cross the road and take the path up to Kelleth, and then return along the road and footpaths to the start."

"What a good idea lad", replied Dad, "and that will all be new ground too."

Strolling down through Cotegill, Allen remarked, "that tree looks lovely with its blossom."

Rounding the corner and passing the farm buildings, Tetley called out, "there is the sign for the owners of Cotegill Farm."

"That's nice", replied Dad. "Worth a picture."

Leaving the buildings it was on along the road, where the blackthorn was in blossom.

"You can always tell the difference between blackthorn and hawthorn. The former blossoms before the leaves come out hence being called blackthorn, while hawthorn gets its leaves and blossom all at once", lectured Tetley.

Shortly we reached an opening on the right and Shaun called out, "this is where we cross the main road, and go along the footpath on the far side."

This was immediately opposite to the left side of a house and was clearly signed.

The path was grassy and overgrown, taking us along with the wall on the right,

to then shortly reach this substantial footbridge over the River Lune.

"That's lovely", said Little Eric, then as we crossed over, he went on, "there are some nice reflections in the still waters."

Then descending the far side, Allen said, "Dad, would you take our picture sitting on the steps."

"Sure lads", Dad replied. "Now settle down so I can frame the shot."

As you can see we had dawdled on this short section, but really it was too pretty to rush. Onwards now the path soon swung sharp right and climbed steeply and shortly to the road at Kelleth, where we turned left. This was the original road along the valley, prior to the new one being built on the former railway, and was lined with wildflowers in full bloom.

"OK", said Shaun, looking at the map, " we follow the road passing Rayne Farm, then it is about as far again to Rayne Bridge, where we leave the road and join the footpath.

Right" replied Dad, putting best foot forward, as he strode off.

The buildings of Rayne Farm came into view and as we passed by Grizzly called out, "those rock flowers on that stone wall make a nice picture."

Dad then strolled on and after a while, Allen called out, "we must be getting near the bridge as there is a bend sign, and the road turns quite sharply left over it."

If you look carefully on the right side, you will see that there is a gap stile in the wall, which is the official path, but it is not necessary to use this as there is an access road to a camping area, off which was the gate we needed to take onto the footpath. For our sakes though, Dad decided to climb the stile. However he was forced to retreat from the path beyond due to a large patch of nettles that had to be negotiated, but not a good idea in shorts!

As we approached the iron gate to the path, Shaun said, "there is a seat to the right bearing a dedication", so Dad went over to investigate.

The dedication reads -

1925 John Capstick 2002

When next the hunt of Lunesdale Hounds
He'll be there when the horn resounds
Away, Away my lads away

Very poignant we thought.

Through the iron gate, we climbed the pasture by the fence and so towards a gate in the wall.

"Look" called out Tetley. "There is a lamb running along the wall", he laughed.

Through the gate, the grassy sylvan path stretched out before us, a joy to walk.

Then it was just a case of keeping on in the same direction all the way, using the stone step stiles over the walls, passing above Marl Crag and on to approach finally Raisgill Hall. Just before we had to deal with some inquisitive young cattle, but Dad got over the stile before they got to us!

Now there was just the simple matter of walking through the farmyard and along the drive to the car.

This had been a quite delightful way to make the return and as can be seen we were afforded wonderful views to the Howgill Fells including of course Langdale Knott, which had been of special significance today, marking Little Eric's completion of the Howgill challenge, so joining the rest of his pals.

"Thank you so much Dad for repeating those nine summits , so that I could complete the challenge", said Little Eric.

"You are most welcome, lad."

"You must be ready for some food now, I guess, Dad?", said Tetley.

"Exactly, and I am going to Elaine's of course. Well it's on my way home - sort of!"

It was nice for Dad to see everyone, and of course he was welcomed. Not surprisingly it had been busy again, but there were plenty of tables when we got there about 15.00. Megan looked after him, taking the order. He had the lovely meat and potato pie with mash and vegetables served in a separate dish, personally by Elaine, and with Sheila bringing the red cabbage. What service and attention he received. Then to follow apple crumble and custard and tea of course.

Sheila's favourite bear is Snowdrift, but as she does not work on Monday, when Dad and Uncle Brian go, she does not get to see him. So Dad had had had the presence of mind to bring him along today, which pleased Sheila and he got some fussing.

Good day, and a great one for Little Eric who is justifiably a proud bear!

Because Dad had brought Snowdrift along, we decided today to stay in the car and chat about the adventure and have the rest of our picnic. We were however disappointed not to see Farmer Jonathan, Elaine's husband, so Dad kindly took us along the next day when he went with Uncle Brian.

We sat outside on the wall looking out for him coming,

and then later had our picture taken with him, when he was chatting to Dad and Uncle Brian!

Oh happy days, and what a lucky band we are!!


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