The Eastern Howgills.

Start. Cross Keys, Cautley.

Route. Cross Keys - Ben End - Yarlside - Saddle - Kensgriff - Randygill Top - Stockless - Green Bell - Narthwaite Farm - Cross Keys.

Notes. Don't let anyone ever tell you the Howgill Fells are boring, today's walk was harder than anything I've ever done in the Lake District, lung busting ascents, knee crushing descents, breath-taking views, not because I had to keep stopping to catch my breath, although there was plenty of that, lovely green paths stretching across airy ridges, deep cut gills, solitude, just me and the mountain birds.

My day started in a small lay-by near the Cross Keys Inn (the pub with no beer) straight out of the car and straight onto the unforgiving slopes of Ben End, slowly zigzagging my way upwards I eventually reached the small pile of stones that marks the summit. To the north Yarlside, the climbing continued on a wonderful green path, the summit cairn was a most welcome sight. After a short break I made the steep descent to the Saddle, there was plenty of grip on the Howgill turf today, the precipitous descent was easy. The ascent to Kensgriff not so, another leg burning climb another summit cairn, and another view to the next steep ascent, the grassy slopes of Randygill Top.

The path heads northwest crossing the headwaters of Great Randy Gill and Stockless Gill, this boggy saddle marked the start of my ascent. Leaving the path I started yet another steep ascent, winding my way upwards over short cropped turf, I was soon standing at the summit cairn. The ascent of Green Bell was easy compared to my endeavors so far, ascending on a wonderful green path you don't quite appreciate how good the views will be until you reach the trig point, suddenly all the pain was worth while, the view blew me away, this was definitely a place to linger.

Eventually it was time to leave, with regret I started my descent. A narrow path lead south, I followed this until it disappeared, now walking over short grass I ignored all other paths, keeping south I crossed a broad saddle before descending to the banks of Spen Gill, here another green path carried me down hill to pick up the bridleway leading to Narthwaite Farm. Passing high above Mountain View before turning right in the farmyard at Narthwaite, my last obstacle was the rather wide crossing of Beckside Gill, at least it cleaned the boots. After fording the beck Cautley, the car and the pub with no beer awaited just around the corner.

view route map.


The curtain raiser on today's walk Cautley Crag.

Gracing the southern skyline Baugh Fell, seen from the ascent of Ben End.

A low sun over Wild Boar Fell.

Stunning views down the valley of the River Rawthey.

The cataracts and cascades of Cautley Spout, look small and insignificant from up here.

Seen from the slopes of Ben End, the long ridge of rock that is Cautley Crag.

The rolling grassy summits of the Howgill Fells, the obvious top on the skyline being Green Bell, I hope to make that my final summit for today, at this moment I have my doubts about making it that far, I'm still ascending Ben End.

Through the morning haze Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell.

Still ascending Ben End, looking to the scree slopes on Kensgriff backed by Randygill Top, to the right Green Bell.

Seen from near the summit of Ben End the unmistakable flat top of Ingleborough.

Seen from near the summit of Yarlside, Wild Boar Fell, to the right Swarth Fell.

With a sigh of relief the welcome summit of Yarlside, it may not be the highest hill in the Howgills but I bet it's one of the hardest to reach.

And this is part of the view, across the rolling ridges of the Howgill Fell the ragged skyline of the Lake District.

I'm about to gingerly take my first steps of this rather steep descent, below me the Saddle awaits, followed by the ascent of Kensgriff and Randygill Top.

Another welcome summit cairn, another sigh of relief, the summit of Kensgriff looking to Yarlside.

On the slopes of Randygill Top looking to Kensgriff and Yarlside, you can see my descent route off Yarlside from here, down the edge of the gill far right.

The summit Randygill Top.

Weasdale a typical Howgill valley.

The summit of Green Bell with a wonderful view over the Lune and Eden Valleys.

Seen from the banks of Spen Gill, the bell shaped Kensgriff and Yarlside.

The Saddle crossed earlier.

Mountain View and the slopes of Yarlside, I think it's time someone breathed new life into this old building.

Cautley Crag views over Ben End.

High above Westerdale with magical views over the Rawthey Valley, Middleton Fell and Crag Hill dominate the horizon.

A final look to Ben End and Yarlside, I'm still cursing that climb.

Beckside Beck, I liked the colours in the beck bottom, the path fords the gill above the fall.

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