Post image for High Dales Hike Day 6: Sedburgh to Ravenstonedale

High Dales Hike Day 6: Sedburgh to Ravenstonedale

March 8, 2015 · 20 comments

Date walked: 17th September 2014

Distance: 11.2 miles

Map used: OS Explorer OL19 – Howgill Fells and the Upper Eden Valley

Guide book: A Dales High Way Companion by Tony and Chris Grogan

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I had stayed the night at The Dalesman Country Inn. I took no notes about breakfast so it must have been OK if unremarkable.  Bob was joining me around 10 so I had plenty of time to pack and pop out to get us some lunch.  In fact when he arrived he needed breakfast which was taken on the hoof in a roll.

It was perfect day for a strenuous walk across the Howgill Fells; sunny but not too warm.  At first we  followed the route of the High Dales Way, which takes a lane north out of Sedburgh but after a quarter-of-a-mile leaves it to climb steeply up the southernmost part of the fell towards a peak called Winder.

The Dales High Way on the foothills of the Howgill Fells near Sedburgh, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bob sometimes favours the zig-zag approach to the steep bits

Our path headed right, climbing , still quite steeply, the flank of Arant Haw.  The peak ahead of us was  called Calders.

View to Calders on the Howgill Fells, in Cumbria photographed by Charles Hawes

Conversationally we tried to tackle the Scottish Question (the vote on independence being the next day) and I did a pretty good job, I think , of explaining the significance of The Pound. In my view the rest of Britain had as much right to vote as the Scots.

As we neared Calders, a couple and their two dogs ran past us; I made a dodgy remark to the girl about her mates bum. Don’t ask. It was funny rather than leery.

Runners on the approach to Calders on the Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes
We were already at around 2,000 feet and the views around us were stonking. This felt like a completely different world than I had been walking through for the last 5 days. The reason is simple. Geology.  The underlying rock is a metamorphic gritstone rather than limestone.

View north from near Calders on the Howgill Fells, photographed from the High Dales Way by Charles Hawes

Middle Tongue, Howgill Fells, photographed by Charles Hawes

The paths you can see are not on the map

To our right the ridge of  Middle Tongue was in shadow, the water of Hobdale Beck, having cut deeply into the hillside, out of sight.

At Calders we saw a chap behind us coming up from the left.

View from near Calders on the Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed on the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

The map doesn’t show a clear path in  that direction but he told us that there was a route down to what wikipedia says is the highest cascade in England above ground waterfall called Cautley Spout.

It was just over half-a-gently-ascending- mile from Calders to the trig point at The Calf (2,217 feet) where we asked a fellow walker to take a snap of us.

Charles Hawes and Bob Pinder at the trig point of The Calf, Howgill Fells, Cumbria

I rather like this pic

I’m not going to try and describe  the views around us  so, with apologies to the blind, here are several pics from around that spot.

View from near Calders on the Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed on the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

View from near Calders on the Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed on the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

 

View from near Calders on the Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed on the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

View from near Calders on the Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed on the Dales High Way by Charles Hawes

We took the path east off  The Calf, silenced by the extraordinary views all around us.

Sedburgh to ravenstonedale-14

The fell straight ahead carries The High Dales Way on a ridge walk due north over West Fell for three more miles. But I was booked into The Kings Head at Ravenstonedale to  so we needed to veer further east into Bowderdale.

Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’ve got my sheep book now – I think they are Dalesbred

Somehow we missed the very clear path on the map down to the beginning of Bowderdale Beck, but thankfully the ground, though a little tussocky was  not very rutted and we found the path again half way down.

Descending the side of Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bob always seems to have his head down when I snap him

Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

Speechless

Up to now we had come across several groups of people making the most of this glorious day but in this valley we were on our own – apart from some sheep.

The path took us past Rams Gill …..

Rams Gill in Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

…..and then Hazel Gill, both having carved out deep valleys by what today seemed very minor streams (no doubt torrential in the winter months).

Hazel Gill  and Bowderdale Beck, Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was opposite Hazel Gill that we needed to make our own route to Randygill Top about 1,000 feet above us. In fact, and most reassuringly, there was a clear track that made its way up this steepest of climbs.

Bowderdale, looking south, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

The first 100 yards or so from the valley bottom were Ok but for the next half -a-mile it was a slow process of putting one foot in front (and rather higher up) than the other, making use of the tread marks of previous walkers.

Little Randy Gill, Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s called Little Randy Gill!

My approach when faced with such a climb is to go slow and to not stop, keeping my breathing steady. Normally, I think Bob would share this method, but today he was slower and did stop, so once or twice I stopped too to catch sight of him and to give him an encouraging wave.

Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was hard going, but not a hardship. The views were fabulous and there is an uncommon sense of achievement (for me least) and amazement at what one’s body is capable of when you make such dramatic climbs.

Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

Looking north to West Fell- that ridge is the route the Dales High Way takes

The top of a hill is always hidden by the slope of the land and sometimes it can feel cruelly elusive. Today, though,  the views that kept demanding my attention were behind me as I climbed.

Bowderdale and Hazel Gill, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

That’s Hazel Gill on the other side of the valley

And with Bobs progress being slower, I had time for several sit downs to take in this very special landscape.

Hazel Gill, Bowderdale, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

I just zoomed in for this pic

When we did make it to the top we took a breather together and something to eat  and were both in awe at our surroundings

Bowderdale viewed from Randygill Top, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

The map showed  a path now heading for  the trig point of Green Bell (a mere 1,984 feet).  But we had some difficulty making it out on the ground.

Sedburgh to ravenstonedale-30

Neither of us were up for making a major mistake at this time of the day, but with much reference to map and GPS we nevertheless took a sheep path in roughly the right direction.

Approaching Green Bell, Howgill Fells, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

See what I mean- head down

After passing one more summit called Knoutberry we could at last see the fell dropping away and the village of  Ravenstonedale below us.

It might not have been the most direct route off the fell but we opted for a clear path heading for a lane that gave us an easy mile  of re-acquaintance with signs of domesticity.

Barn near Ravenstonedale, Cumbria, photographed by Charles Hawes

My pub proved to be on the far side of the village. We passed the Black Swan without a thought, certain that a couple of pints had our names on them at The Kings Head.

The Black Swan, Ravenstonedale, Photographed by Charles Hawes

It looked a little posh for my taste

We arrived there around 5 – later than I had thought we might but in plenty of time for us to get a couple in before Bobs taxi arrived. We certainly deserved them.

The Kings Head, Ravenstondale, photographed by Charles Hawes

Smashing place – go there!

At £75 a night for a double room, The Kings Head is really good value. The pub is spacious and has comfortable seating, the staff are friendly, and my en-suite room was enormous and really cosy. After I had showered and had an hours snooze to sleep off the beer I returned to the bar, which was buzzing. The food was excellent.  In fact I indulged myself so much that evening that at settling up time the next morning the staff at the bar thought that there must have been two of us eating. Well, you only live once. I think.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil March 8, 2015 at 7:10 am

Well, that looks to be a fabulous day out on the hills. Great shots, and a path taking you into remote areas. Lovely. The pic with the ground spotlit by Jacobs ladders is delightful. My favourite type of days, sun rays streaming through cloud gaps, racing across the terrain.

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Charles March 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

It was a stunner, Neil; you’d have loved it. It’s a long way from home but Bob and I promised ourselves a return visit sometime, so we must invite our friends to join us when we do.

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Paul Steer March 8, 2015 at 11:23 am

Awesome indeed. Very familiar glacial landscape, so similar to this end of the Brecon Beacons. That pic of you and Bob is a treasure. You were right – words not needed.

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Charles March 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Sorry to pass on today’s walk, where you had planned to introduce me to your glacial features. I don’t look a prat for once, for which I am grateful.

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John March 8, 2015 at 9:23 pm

And Paul was looking forward to letting you feel his fresco too! Don’t worry, though, I’ll make sure that you and Anne both get a chance to run your fingers over mine. (Notice the shift in posession?)

Seriously good photographs today and clearly a memorable walk. If Kent relocated to the Dales, the word would be “Perfick!” (Literary allusion there, just to add a bit of culture).

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Charles March 9, 2015 at 11:29 am

We have the pleasure of two of Paul’s beautiful butterfly frescoes here. But thanks for the offer….

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James Golden March 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Beautiful landscape. What prevents the growth of trees and shrubs? Grazing? Climatic conditions? Soil? The height doesn’t seem sufficient along.

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Charles March 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Hello James. Good question. The grazing must account for something but then shrubs and trees manage to co-exist with them elsewhere. Dunno.

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David Marsden March 8, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Superb Charles. The Howgills are even better close up and personal than from afar – which is saying something. So many great photos – remind me to give you a slap on the back. Dave

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Charles March 8, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Thanks Dave. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought. They look so good from a distance- and then ten times better when you are in them. Thanks for the slap. Always welcome.

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Adam March 8, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Incredibly beautiful & stunning landscape. Almost feel tempted to have a walk there myself, even though I’m not really a ‘walker’ !

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Charles March 9, 2015 at 11:31 am

Thanks very much , Adam. Hey, I assume you’re a biped – that makes you a walker. You can do as much or as little as you like but get out there.

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Marianna Paulson March 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm

I want to go!

Your images are so clear, I can feel the wind on my face, the gravel underfoot and and the sense of place.

Thanks for sharing, Charles.

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Charles March 9, 2015 at 11:28 am

You should! Its a fabulous area. Treat yourself.

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Bill coughlin March 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Yes the Dales High Way takes some beating which three men and a dog did last June, we stayed at the Black Swan in Ravendale first class in all aspects and they accommodate dogs

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Charles March 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Hi Bill. Well as you will have noticed, I missed out on some of the path and but I mostly blame Bob, who put the ininerary togther for me. That’s two good pubs in the village – I must return.

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rob grover March 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Why is noone defending Bob for looking where he is treading? The consequences of not doing so are too numerous to list here. Beautiful curvaceous landscapes, Charles, and blessed with the best weather.

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Charles March 12, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Fair Point. He could stick up for himself if he ever bothered to read these but i don’t think he does.

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Bob March 13, 2015 at 7:30 am

Loved reading about our fabulous day.too many references to my reduced speed for my liking! Great photos.we’re going again.bob

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Charles March 13, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Sorry about that, but you know your role in these blogs. Yes, definitely going back.

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