A HOWGILL adventure & LANCASHIRE ramble

December 2007 was a good month for walking with Uncle Eric. Besides the Stennerskeugh adventure, on the previous two Tuesdays, we climbed in the Howgills, and rambled along the Lancaster Canal. Due to conditions however there were not so many opportunities for photographs, so in the latter case the account is rather brief.



Date - 11th December 2007 Distance - 9 miles
Map - OL19 Start point - Raisgill Bridge (NY 635058)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Langdale Knott 1565 477 NY 6597 0200
West Fell 1778 542 NY 6703 0152


The Walk

After a dreadful week's weather last week, it was so nice to have some calm sunny weather. Rather cold but that is to be expected in December.

Today's walk took us into the Howgill Fells, walking in a southerly direction from the northern boundary. Having climbed some of the northern tops, this was to be the start of a determined effort to complete the rest, involving a number of walks to remote and lonely places that are little frequented. On this and most of the succeeding walks on the north side of the Howgills, we saw no other walkers.

Parking at Raisgill Bridge we walked to the A685 then crossed into Gaisgill Village passing the house that was once the old station building. This is because the current main road is built on the track bed of the long closed railway line. The narrow lane soon brought us to the hamlet of Longdale passing the old school. Taking a gate on the left we entered Cowbound Lane, a grassy track very wet in places, following it to the end and a gate. Then on along the track keeping near to the wall on the right to a corner. Down the slope to the right flows Langdale Beck, crossed by this old arched bridge, photographed the following March on another expedition.

The view in front now opened up and we could see clearly our objective Langdale Knott and to its left West Fell. In front was a narrow valley that we crossed to join a definite track leading up Langdale Knott. The Howgills are home to many beautiful wild horses, such as this group we saw on the ascent.

The track led all the way to the summit of Langdale Knott with its small cairn, which we sat proudly by for our picture.

Afterwards, we all just stood looking at the wonderful views all round. Being December the bright sun was low in the sky, which sadly prevented Dad from getting any pictures. Below was the Langdale Valley with its stream glittering in the sunlight. On a somewhat less sunny day, this is Langdale taken looking north from Hazelgill Knott. Like all the Howgill valleys it is steep sided. The high point on the ridge to the right is Langdale Knott, where we were currently standing.

Following the track, it descended into the valley circling above Birkgill Moss. It is plain to see how sunny the day was, as evidenced by the sun glinting on these icicles hanging from a peat hag.

Now followed the steep and relentless climb to the ridge of West Fell, where a short stroll right brought us to the summit. There is little or no rock or stone around, so had to make do with the small pile of stones as a cairn to sit on for our photograph. The track on the right of the photograph was our route off the fell.

Before setting off Dad and Uncle Eric did the "Eric Robson", as we call it. That is identifying all the fells that could be seen. The mist looked like it was going to come down, so settling in the rucksack, Dad and Uncle Eric strode off north along the ridge, descending steadily, to eventually joining the path that runs through Bowderdale, the valley below to the right. This is the fine view looking south along it, the dominant hill in the distance being Yarlside.

Hungry, we found a few level stones by a small gate, to sit on to have our picnic. Refreshed we walked on to the road at Bowderdale Foot, and turned left to its end at Long Gill. Here a bridleway led over fields past the farm at Flakebridge and on to Cotegill. Joining a narrow road this led to Longdale, where our outward route was followed to the car. A superb day on these lonely fells. We were down by 15.30, after 6 hours walking. Perfect timing too, for Uncle Eric and Dad to go to Lune Springs Garden Centre for tea and toasted teacake - very nice! Dad bought some marmalade and chutney too.



Date - 4th December 2007 Distance - 7 miles
Map - 296
Start point - Car park at Condor Green (NY 457561)


The Walk

On a damp drizzly and latterly rainy day (Uncle Brian thought we were mad to even set out), Uncle Eric drove us to Condor Green, a few miles south of Lancaster. From the car park we strolled along the road to the The Stork Inn, here crossing the main road, to continue almost to Webster's Farm, where we took the footpath left over the fields. With the rain recently it was very muddy underfoot and care was necessary not to get bogged down. The path led through Parkside Farm and Forerigg Wood to the Lancaster canal at Galgate.

Turning north we then followed the towing path through pleasant woodland and open country. A number of bridges crossed the canal, including no. 91 - Brantbeck Bridge.

Continuing on, we finally left the canal just a few yards before bridge 93, where a narrow path led up the bank to a lane. This was followed left to the main road. Just a few yards left a lane on the right was taken and followed right into the tiny hamlet of Stodday.

"Look there", called out Shaun. "That wall post box looks very old."

Peering to get a closer look, Tetley said, "it was installed in the reign of Queen Victoria."

What made us smile was the legend at the top 'Letters Only'. Any parcels would certainly have to be very small indeed to get through the slot!!

At a junction, we turned left along the road that ended at the Sewage Works. A track continued on past this to reach a path and cycleway, as part of the Lancashire Coastal Way, on the track bed of the old Lancaster to Glasson Dock branch railway. To the left was the river Lune, while to the right for part of the way was Lancaster golf course. The track led us to the the car park at Condor Green, which is the site of the old station.

Glasson Dock is a harbour on the river Lune, developed originally in the 1780's. It was connected to the rail network by means of a 6ΒΌ mile branch from Lancaster opened by the London North Western Railway in 1883. It was closed to passengers in 1930 by the London Midland and Scottish and goods in 1964 by British Railways.

Before setting out, due to the weather, Uncle Eric and Dad had decided to go to The Stork Inn for lunch. They enjoyed and excellent meal that revived them, also allowing them to dry out somewhat after the soaking on the last mile of the walk. Meanwhile we ate our own picnic that we had wisely stowed in Uncle Eric's car. Shaun had made flasks of tea, which revived and warmed us up.

Despite the rain, thanks Dad as always for taking us out.