Grizzly's 11th birthday walk


Date - 3rd July 2015 Distance - 5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL19
Start point - Lay-by near Straight Bridge (SD 6765 9233)


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



It was Wednesday and tea had arrived, Southey and Tetley helping Shaun fill the mugs.

Grizzly passed round the plates saying, "Little Eric has made peach and apricot slice again, as you all commented how delicious it was. My contribution is fruit scones with butter and blackcurrant jam.

"Mmm, lovely", said Allen helping himself to one of each.

Soon we were all tucking in. "Love the cake Little Eric," said Tetley.

"The scones are delicious", added Shaun. "And a very Happy Birthday pal."

"Thanks", replied Grizzly. "I am 11 today, and what a wonderful life I have had going on all those adventures with you and Dad."

Then we all sang Happy Birthday to him and raised our mugs in salute.

Allen then said, "there is a date down in the diary for a walk with Uncle Eric on Friday, and the weather forecast looks to be good."

"It is February since we walked with Uncle Eric, as he has not been very well at all", went on Little Eric. "It is good he has recovered, and great that we will have his company again."

Tetley said, "as it is so near we will have to make it your birthday walk, pal."

"I have been talking to Dad, and he says that we will not have to get our thinking caps for the walk. In view of Uncle Eric's bout of illness Dad has said that he should suggest the walk, so that it is within what he feels he can do."

"So we will find out on Thursday, after Dad has spoken to him", said Southey.

This we did and below is where we went.


The Walk

Uncle Eric had suggested a walk from Wainwright's book Walks on the Howgill Fells. It was in fact the last one in the book and explored Dovecote Gill and Hebblethwaite Hall Gill.

The start point was at lay-by just before Straight Bridge on the Kirkby Stephen road, where we met Uncle Eric.

"Good morning Uncle Eric, it is so good to see you again."

"Thanks Lads, good to see you too", he replied.

The day was warm and sunny with little wind and very clear providing superb views of the Howgill Fells, especially here at the start. "What are those summits called", asked Southey, as he was too young to have done any of the walking on the Howgills.

"To the left is Winder and Crook", replied Tetley.

"While in front are Sickers Fell and Knott", he went on.

"I'm ready", called out Dad.

"OK", replied Allen, as we got settled in the rucksack.

Then we strolled off to cross Straight Bridge that spans the River Rawthey that here was flowing ever so gently.

"There's the lane we need to take leading to Dowbiggin", said Shaun

The lane meandered east and then south east, passing a number of houses with names including Dowbiggin Foot, Greenwood, Green Hollins, Broad Yeat and Spout, before reaching at its end Dovecote Gill Farm.

Here both the book and map were not easy to interpret, but we sensed that we should avoid entering the farm. So the only other alternative was the track to the right signed to Danny Bridge. This soon swung left and climbed to a gate, where beyond we followed a sunken cart track that led us to a small waymarked gate.

"That's good to see, so we are on a proper path at least", said Tetley.

The steep rough path descended by Great Dovecote Gill to a footbridge.

This was crossed and the path led us past farm buildings and shortly to this signpost. "We are definitely on route, Hebblethwaite is where we are heading for", said Grizzly.

"Those are really black sheep" commented Southey, who was encouraging Dad to take a picture to wind Allen up.

I know what you are up to ", replied Allen laughingly.

The route was now clearly waymarked via gates and stiles and across a field to a gate. Up the next field, following a grassy cart track we arrived at Wilkinstile Farm.

Here passed through the yard via two metal gates into a field and so on up to Fellgate Farm. Walked through the yard, where we were greeted by friendly sheep dogs and through a gate to the open fell.

The signposted wide track stretched out before us keeping quite close to a wall on the left. At a gate in the wall we continued ahead on a narrower footpath still by the wall.

When reviewing the walk afterwards, Shaun said, "we did not do all of the route described by Wainwright, as the path we followed kept closer to the wall.

Nevertheless it was a well walked path, and brought us to the ravine of Hebblethwaite Gill.

"We have to be on the far side", said Uncle Eric.

There was a narrow path that descended the steep bank to the gill and Dad pointed saying, "once over if we go right to the fence/wall corner, there seems to be a path through the bracken and up to a track to the gate in the wall."

This was tied up, and again afterwards Shaun commented we were not on the book route."

However there was nothing for it but to climb over. Walked across the field finding a path coming in from the gate at the top right of the field. This became steep as it descended through the bracken to a wide track. Going right, this zig-zagged down to the plank bridge over Nor Gill.

"That's good, we are now properly back on track", said Grizzly.

"This is just beautiful", said Southey.

And perhaps we should leave the last word to Wainwright, who describes it as follows - 'The scenery here is very lovely: the setting is spectacular and yet sylvan, the deeply inured stream cascading between rocks under a bower of trees'.

Strolled the track finding a fallen tree to sit on for our lunch in the beautiful woodland. Before setting off we posed for our picture.

Onwards through a gate the pasture was yellow with buttercups and above this prominent tree made a nice shot against the blue sky

Soon Hebblethwaite Hall was reached where just before alpacas were grazing in the field. "I just love to see them", said Allen. "They are such gentle animals."

Through the buildings it was along the access road with with wildflowers in the hedgerows, making a lovely sight. At a corner climbed the stile left and then went right on the gated stiled way through another field yellow with buttercups...

..towards Ghyllas, the home of WhyNot Alpacas. We passed four in a field all with young that the farmer told us were just days old, during an interesting conversation with him.

Then it was along the access to follow a waymarked path in the woods and so to a stile and down to the road. Turned left passing the property called Burntmill and on to cross Straight Bridge once again to the start.

"That was a lovely walk", said Grizzly, "thank you Uncle Eric for suggesting it. A nice way to celebrate my birthday from Wednesday."

"Just glad you all enjoyed it and Happy Birthday", replied Uncle Eric.

Time for refreshments now to they went to Farfield Mill, close by, for tea and and cake.

A grand day out!


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