The Howgill Fells, the Quiet Hills.

Start. Sedbergh (Back Lane).

Route. Sedbergh (Back Lane) - Main Street - Joss Lane - Hill Farm - Settlebeck Gill - Dales High Way (path) - Hobdale Scar - Rowantree Grains - Calders - Bram Rigg Top - The Calf - Hare Shaw - Bowderdale - Bowderdale Head - Cautley - Cock Brow - Fawcett Bank - Thursgill - Ellerthwaite - Buckbank - Straight Bridge - River Rawthey - New Bridge - Sedbergh.

Notes. This challenging walk starts in the market town of Sedbergh, a traverse of a small but compact group of fells, a stunning but isolated landscape that’s well and truly off the beaten track. Having said that the fells ain't as quiet as they once were, but walk on a week day, start early and you’ll have the hills to yourself as I did. Come on grab your boots and bag, I'll navigate, you know you want to.

I left Sedbergh via Main Street and Joss Lane, Joss Lane terminated at a field gate, after passing through said gate I joined a path (The Dales High Way) ascending in the company of deep cut Settlebeck Gill. With the gill for company I climbed the hill, first over a half descent path then over a green trod that deposited me on a bridleway traversing these fells, I turned north, the path was obvious. A constant climb across the slopes of Arant Haw followed, passed Swear Gill Well then above the crags of Hobdale Scar. A sharp descent deposited me on the coll at Rowantree Grains, I stopped to admire the views over rolling ridge lines and deep cut gills, just an excuse to rest before the leg burner of an ascent to Calders. The ascent looked a lot worse than it was, I was soon crossing Bram Rigg, after descending to the next coll I had a choice, continue my descent through the high valley cut by Force Gill Beck then descend the steep path next to Cautley Spout or ascend The Calf.

The Calf is the highest point on these rolling fells, I’d come all this way I wasn’t going to miss it, I climbed yet again. The Calf welcomed me with a trig point and dried up tarn, I felt lonely and vulnerable up there, just me a few mountain birds and a cold wind, lonely it was but the views were just stunning, I drank them in before leaving. North-east I wandered to access a path junction at a small mountain tarn, here I left the Dales High Way my route descended into Bowderdale, another lonely place void of people, rarely trod by the boots of man.

Once in the valley I swung right descending over Bowderdale Head into the ever popular Cautley, home to the remains of an Iron Age settlement and, what most visitors travel miles to see, what is considered England's highest waterfall, the 590ft high Cautley Spout. After finding a convenient boulder I sat, ate lunch, drank coffee and just enjoyed the ambiance of the place. When the time came to move I headed down the valley a good path under foot, this path guided me to a wooden footbridge spanning Cautley Holme Beck, I crossed to access a green trod running along the valley side wall.

Green ways now guided me above Rawtheydale, sometimes above the final intake other times through sheep pastures, once at Fawcett Bank the farm lane ushered me to Thursgill and a narrow ribbon of tarmac (Buckbank Lane). With tarmac under foot I strolled passed Ellerthwaite to Buckbank, I stopped to check the map, my route passed through the farm yard, it was a bit vague, unsure of which way to go I wandered through regardless, had a long chat with the farmer who pointed me in the right direction, I was soon descending through sheep pastures to gain access to Straight Bridge and the banks of the River Rawthay.

River side rambling followed, a green trod under foot, through fields over stiles, a delightful final few miles. I left the river at New Bridge, a few hundred yards of road walking saw me back in Sedbergh. Aching legs, sour knees and that warm tired feeling told me this had been a long hard one, but I'd enjoyed every step.

view route map.


Early morning in the streets of Sedbergh.

Looking over Rawtheydale to the low Frostrow Fells backed by Whernside, Crag Hill and Middleton Fell.

Above Settleback Gill drinking in early morning views over Rawtheydale taking in the massive bulk of Baugh Fell and Aye Gill Pike.

Ascending the Howgill Fells with this view behind me, Whernside, Crag Hill and Middleton Fell.

Dappled light on Winder.

Viewing Crook with Crag Hill and Middleton Fell as a backdrop.

Between Sickers and Crook the deep ravine of Ashbeck Gill.

My route over Rowantree Grains followed by the steep pull up Calders.

Magical views over the western ridges of the Howgill Fells, from front to back, Brant Fell, Brim Rigg and White Fell.

Ascending Calders looking back to Arant Haw.

The summit Calders....

....followed by the summit of The Calf the highest ground on the Howgill Fells.

Heading through the wild emptiness of the Howgill Fells.

Lit by the sun Cautley with Swarth Fell and Baugh Fell grey across the horizon.

Lonely, trod by few Bowderdale.

Descending Bowderdale Head viewing Cautley, the green fields marking the edge of West Baugh Fell and Baugh Fell itself.

Cautley Spout at 590ft believed to be one of the highest waterfalls in England.

Seen from the footbridge spanning Cautley Holme Beck, Cautley Crag with Cautley Spout to the right, far right the steep slopes of Yarlside.

Green ways now guide me above Rawtheydale.

Viewing Harter Fell, a walk for another day.

Near Thursgill looking to the flat top of Wild Boar Fell.

Crook and Sickers split by Ashbeck Gill with the shadowed ridge of Arant Haw behind.

Near journeys end strolling along the banks of the River Rawthey.

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