KNOUTBERRY, THE SOURCE OF THE RIVER LUNE, GRERE FELL & KNOTT from RAVENSTONEDALE

 


Summary

Date - (1) 21st February 2010 (2) 2nd March 2010 Distance - (1) 3.25 miles (2) 6.75 miles
Ascent - (1) 300ft (2) 1100ft
Map - OL19 Start point - Ravenstonedale (NY 722041)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Knoutberry 1736 529 NY 7042 0131
Grere Fell 1785 544 NY 7030 0053
Knott (Ravenstonedale) 1526 465 NY 7142 0129

 

Preamble

Over lunch STAG were discussing where the next walk might be.

"From what I overheard Dad saying to Uncle Brian, I think he intends for now to continue with ticking off more of our outstanding summits in the Howgill Fells, so I wonder which walk we will do next?", said Allen.

"From what I recall, Dad said he wants to get the northern section done once and for all. That being the case, we will be doing the walk to the source of the River Lune, from Ravenstonedale", replied Grizzly.

Shaun piped up, saying, "that will make progress for the rest of you, as I went there with Dad and Uncle Eric ten years ago. That was in the early days of Dad taking us along on walks, and I was the only one who went regularly and even then not on every single walk. It will be an interesting adventure, and there are some fine views into the rest of the Howgill massif."

"I went with you on some of the walks at that time, but for reasons no one can now remember, Dad did not always take me along", interjected Tetley.

"That's right", replied Shaun, "but from 2001 onwards, I happily had you for company on every walk we went on."

"It's nice the hear about the early days, long before I was adopted", added Allen.

 

Preface & Route

And so it turned out that the next Sunday (21st February), we set off for Ravenstonedale. There was fog at home, but Dad was confident it would lift and hoped that the day would be good. The fog gave way to frosty ground as we headed north, but we were not prepared for, nor expected, the scene that greeted us as we arrived. All was white under a covering of snow, and more was gently falling. Thinking the weather would improve we set off out of the village and on towards Knoutberry, the first summit. Soon however the track petered out and route finding was difficult in this totally trackless area, also visibility was very poor in the continuous snow. For these reasons and the fact that Dad was concerned about being able to get the car out of the village, on our return some hours later, he decided to abort after about a mile and a half from the start.

We returned for another attempt on 2nd March, when we had Uncle Eric for company too. The day was in complete contrast with clear blue skies and excellent visibility, with everywhere still white under snow. We were glad that Dad had aborted the first attempt, as today was a superb day for this adventure.

The story of the walk will be a combination of the two days, the pictures graphically illustrating the contrast in the weather conditions.

Before we start, here is a map of the route -

Through the village the path leads over the footbridges and joins the track signed Tarn Riggs. This leads on past the enclosure of Philip Close. Ascending Snowfell End the summit of Knoutberry is finally reached. Ahead on the slopes of Green Bell lie the springs of the source of the River Lune. Contouring round Green Bell a col is reached and walking left it is an easy ascent to Grere Fell. We now make a steep descent due north of Grere Fell to cross Long Gill, where a path leads to the last summit Knott. Descending, the large enclosure of Thornthwaite comes into view. This is skirted to its right where a path and track materialise leading past Kilnmire Farm and into Ravenstonedale. NB - the indication of Dale Gill, refers to the name of the stream from the actual source of the Lune.

 

The Walk

We got ready for the off about 08:30 on the Sunday of 21st February, Tetley commenting, "the fog is down."

"Dad feels confident it will lift, so we better get settled in the car, as he has got his gear loaded", replied Allen.

Heading north on the M6, we left the fog behind, the ground was white with frost.

Nearing Tebay the cloud was down and, as we drove east towards Ravenstonedale, Little Eric said, "it's starting to snow."

Leaving the main road and entering the village, the tyres of Dad's car created the first tracks through the snow. We parked by the school, in one of the few remaining places.

"I wondered if the others are parishioners at St Oswald's Church, but there are no footprints on the path", commented Grizzly.

As the snow gently drifted down we set off. Shaun said, "follow the road through the village to Town Head and then take footpath right."

It was necessary for Dad to take care, for beneath the covering of snow were deeply frozen patches of ice. After he nearly slipped over, he said, "walking on the verges is safer than the road."

The path turned left round some houses and crossing the beck by the footbridges, we then continued along the track signed Tarn Riggs.

We were looking back towards the village a real winter scene through the falling snow. "That will make as good shot", piped up Allen.

"OK", replied Dad, hauling the camera out of its case again.

Progress was hindered by a gate secured by a chain and hook. The fastening was exceedingly tight, and coupled with the fact that the gate had at some point dropped on its hinges, it proved difficult to open and then secure afterwards. Nevertheless, Dad persevered and succeeded, following the "Country Code". What Dad did not know, was that he was to struggle again with this gate fastening a little later, after the decision to abandon the full walk today.

So, moving on to the 2nd March, it was to be exactly the same outward route we took with Uncle Eric, but the snow at lower levels had mostly melted away, and none lay on the track through the gate. The trees in the background are within the large enclosure called Philip Close, that we were to walk by, beyond which the track petered out.

In complete contrast to that snowy Sunday, the hills and our route was were sharply defined against the blue sky.

"You have been here before, so what's what, Shaun?", enquired Grizzly.

"The rise on the left is Snowfell End, which we will walk along, to cross the next rise and then beyond to the most distant, which is our first summit Knoutberry. The higher hill to the right is Green Bell where the source of the River Lune lies", Shaun replied authoritatively.

The way led over trackless and boggy ground above Wyegarth Gill, towards the slopes of Snowfell End.

"That's a very atmospheric view of Wild Boar Fell covered in mist", commented Tetley.

Once Snowfell End was gained, we contoured along below the ridge, and steady progress was made over the next rise, for the final ascent to the snow covered summit of Knoutberry.

The Howgill Fells are by nature very grassy and there is little stone evident. "Yet another summit without a cairn", sighed Allen.

Shaun said, "it's fortuitous that Dad's boots have melted away a patch of snow, so we can at least sit on the grass for our picture."

Knoutberry is a top defined in Wainwright's book on the Howgill Fells, so in line with tradition, Uncle Eric and Dad ate some Kendal Mint Cake, to mark reaching its summit.

A clear path descended from the summit crossing to and leading up Green Bell.

Shaun called out, "Do you see that ruined sheepfold."

"Yes", replied Little Eric for the rest of us.

"Well, just a little way to the right is the highest spring marking the source of the River Lune", he replied.

"Come on Dad", urged Allen, "I can't wait to get there."

"Alright, but just give Uncle Eric a little longer to catch his breath", said Dad.

"Sorry Uncle Eric", he said.

A few minutes later off we went, Uncle Eric and Dad making two lines of footprints in the virgin snow. Quite soon we arrived at the sheepfold and Dad cut across right to find the narrow depression, where spring rises out of the hillside.

"This is it" announced Shaun, "the source of the Lune."

We leapt out of the rucksack and settled in the snow, for our picture overlooking the spring.

"Wow", said Allen, "it is hard to imagine that this tiny stream will become that wide river."

Here it is in the Lune Valley just a few miles from its estuary into Morecambe Bay.

Grizzly told us, "the Lune starts its journey as Dale Gill, being joined by Stwarth Gill to the west of High Cocklake. It then becomes Greenside Beck and later Dry Beck, before assuming the name Lune at the village of Newbiggin-on-Lune."

Beyond the enclosure of Philip Close, nobody else had ventured so the snow was undisturbed other than occasionally by the tracks of animals. One such had passed by the spring, its footprints now added to by the depressions where we had sat.

Safely tucked in his rucksack again, Uncle Eric and Dad trudged through the snow to the path leading up Green Bell. Everyone had been to its summit, so today we contoured round its eastern slopes towards the col ahead. The view opened out to the hills further south.

"What are we looking at?", asked Little Eric, who was not as familiar with these fells as the rest of us.

Tetley piped up, "that is Kensgriff with the path tracking across it, and behind the higher fell is Yarlside that sits at the head of Bowderdale. The arm running down left is called Ben End, and peeping over behind it is Cautley Crag."

"Thanks", replied Little Eric. "You are clever Tetley." Then continuing he said, "if I remember right, we walked up Bowderdale with Uncle Eric in 2008."

"That's right", chipped in Allen, not wanting to be left out. "We actually went on to The Calf the highest point in the Howgills, but the main objective that day was so that we could tick off Hazelgill Knott. It sits right in the middle and it is a long walk to reach it from any direction."

"Where are we going now?", asked Grizzly.

Shaun replied, "to that hill to the left over there, Grere Fell. We head onwards to the col and there turn left to follow the path to the summit."

The walk round the slopes of Green Bell was rather difficult as they are steep, so it was with some relief that we found the old shepherds path, that eased the gradient. Soon after we came to the path along the col and Uncle Eric and Dad trudged through the crisp snow up to the flat summit of Grere Fell.

"No cairn again", sighed Little Eric. "And no option this time but to sit on the snow."

"Will you get the flag out please, to add colour to the otherwise white landscape, Dad?", Grizzly asked.

Pointing north-east, Shaun said, "there's our final summit, Knott. To get there we will have to cross Long Gill, in the valley below."

Again the terrain was trackless and there is no option but to descend steeply, in a northerly direction, the slopes of Grere Fell in the general direction of Knoutberry. So, best foot forward Dad set off blazing a trail down the fell through the snow. As we got nearer to the gill the gradient eased, but it was still quite hard picking a way through the rough ground and rocks hidden under the snow. Dad descended quicker than Uncle Eric. Here he is making his descent following Dad's footprints.

Reaching Long Gill, Dad waited for Uncle Eric to catch up, then together they found a safe place to cross.

Climbing the slope a little way, a rough footpath was joined. "Great", cheered Little Eric. "It leads towards Knott."

"It looks like there is a cairn on the summit", said Allen excitedly.

"I think you are right pal", replied Grizzly.

"Lets hope so, we deserve at least one on the walk", piped up Shaun.

After a while the path turned north, but we kept ahead in the same general direction, and then at the next junction took the right fork to climb gently to Knott's summit. Allen had been right too, there was a cairn to sit on to reward our efforts. We immediately jumped out of the rucksack and settled on it as Dad lined up the camera to take our picture.

"That's two of the three Howgill summits called Knott done", said Allen. "Just the one near Sedbergh to go."

As we snuggled in the rucksack, Grizzly called out, "Wow, that's a superb view of Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell."

Looking at the map we could see that we were only about a mile and a half from Ravenstonedale, but we could not see the village from the summit.

"We just need to head north" said Uncle Eric, so off we went.

Soon we were descending and the large enclosure called Thornthwaite came into view.

"We need to go to the right of that, and I can see the path we will join", said Dad.

Soon we were on the path, that became a track after we had rounded the enclosure. This joined with the footpath we had followed higher up after crossing Long Gill, and shortly after it became enclosed between walls.

Here our progress was brought to an abrupt halt as the path was completely flooded across between the walls.

"Oh heck", exclaimed Little Eric, as gentle prodding with sticks revealed it was deep and very muddy too.

Uncle Eric took one route and Dad another. Dad used the stones at the base of the wall to assist getting past this obstacle. Up to then both his and Uncle Eric's boots were completely clean, but they were now well and truly mucked up. This obstacle surmounted, the track led on to pass the farm called Kilnmire.

Tetley said, "take a picture of the village please. It is similar view to that you took in February. The shot today will show the contrast in the weather conditions."

Shortly the track crossed the old narrow arched bridge, and we strolled through the village to the car.

"Fantastic walk", cheered Allen.

"Thank you Dad, as always. It has been another grand day out", added Grizzly.

Well, after all the effort we agreed that Uncle Eric and Dad deserved some refreshment, so they went to the Old School House tearoom in Tebay, where cake and tea was enjoyed. Dad says thank you to Uncle Eric for the treat.

PS. This is our 100th story. So we wish to say a big thanks to Dad for his tireless efforts in typing them for us, and also to Uncle Brian for proof reading them.

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