Cautley Crag and The Calf.

Start. Cross Keys.

Route. Crass Keys - Coutley - Cautley Spout - Cautley Crag - Great Dummacks - Top of Middle Tongue - Calders - Bram Rigg Top - The Calf - Bouderdale - Bouderdale Head - Cautley - Cross Keys.

Notes. It was old Wainwright who described The Howgill Fells as “a herd of sleeping elephants”, my preferred epithet is the “forgotten hills”, many guide book writers have coined this phrase over the years. Aren't I the lucky one, the forgotten hills are just eight miles from my front door, it's the perfect place to explore on a bank Holiday weekend. Imagine a land of snow and ice, glaciers grinding their way through valleys, cutting back into the mountain side, eventually diverting a north flowing stream over the edge of what we now know as Cautley Crag, this is Cautley Spout, at 578ft the highest water fall above ground in the country, without doubt a good place to start today's little outing.

I parked at the Cross Keys, don't get excited it's a temperance inn built over 400 years ago, now in the safe hands of the National Trust. A wooden footbridge guided me over the River Rawthey, in turn a well walked path ushered me onwards to the foot of Cautley Spout. My ascent started, steep, a pitch path to guide me, zig zags helped ease the gradient, steep gets you up quick, I soon found myself fording Red Gill Beck above the lip of the fall, my ascent on Cautley Crag started here. With a faint path under foot I was soon striding out above cliffs of heather and scree, a faint dot on the ridge line to walkers in the valley 2000ft below. Once at the southern end of the crag I joined a faint path traversing Great Dummacks, a wonderful tract of moorland, this lovely green trod carried me to Calders where I stepped onto the main path traversing the Howgill Fells.

I turned right letting this well used path guide me over Bram Rigg and on to the highest ground on the Howgills, The Calf. I sat a while in the shelter of the trig point, views to the Lakeland skyline were absolutely mouth-watering today, a serrated edge that without doubt would be busy with a procession of walkers, I had The Calf to myself, me a few noisy birds and the whistle of the mountain wind. Break over I continued, the path soon swung to the north east passing an unnamed tarn before descending into lonely, un trodden Bouderdale. Sooner or later I knew I would have to abandon this reassuring path, a tiny cairn before Ram's Gill marked the spot. I descended a faint path under foot and an unnamed gill to guide me, on reaching the coll I turned right descending Bouderdale Head back into Cautley. All that remained to enjoy the views back to Cautley Spout as I re-traced my steps of earlier, then find an inn that served something other than soft drinks.

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Cautley Crag and Great Dummacks seen from the banks of the River Rawthey.

View taken over Rawthey Dale.

Visited by few, rising on the eastern skyline, Baugh Fell.

Viewing Yarlside over what is now just a boggy tract of land, 3000 years ago houses stood here, primitive homes belonging to an Iron Age farming community. What makes this settlement different to any other unearthed is the fact, they built a stone-edged track leading directly to the base of the falls, the purpose of which has been lost in the mists of time.

Looking to Cautley Crag with Cautley Spout to the right.

Approaching Cautley Spout, the remains of the Iron Age track are clearly visible.

Cautley Spout, a 578ft broken cascade.

Ascending Cautley Spout pausing for breath, looking to cloud tumbling over the summit of Baugh Fell.

My fording point of Red Gill Beck with views to Yarlside.

High above Cautley Crag looking to the hills that border Bouderdale, from front to back, Yarlside, Kensgriff, Randygill Top and a distant Hooksey.

Seen from Great Dummacks the flat top of Baugh Fell.

Viewing Arant Haw from the summit of Calders.

A wonderful view to a skyline of Lakeland favourites, dominating the scene, Scafell and Scafell Pike with Great Gable to the right.

The rolling ridges of the Howgill Fells with stunning views to the west.

The summit, The Calf.

Wonderful views from near the summit of The Calf, Langdale with the vast expanse of the Eden Valley stretching to the blue/grey hills of the Pennines.

This unnamed tarn marks the start of my descent, a quick glance back to the Lakeland skyline, on the left the Coniston Massif, the right split by the Wrynose Pass the Sca Fell massif.

Cautley Crag seen from the north.

Looking to Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell, with the massive bulk of Baugh Fell to the right.

Lonely, wild and un-spoilt, Bouderdale.

Descending Bouderdale Head I get a slightly different prospect of Cautley Spout.

The steep slopes of Yarlside with views over Rowthey Dale as far as Swarth Fell.

A final look back to the wall of rock, scree and heather that is Cautley Crag.

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