If you’ve never visited the Howgill Fells, or even heard of them for that matter here’s 5 facts about this hidden gem for fellwalkers and wild campers…
The Howgill fells are a relatively small group of hills and valleys located in Cumbria in the north of England.
“Cumbria!” you say, “isn’t that just part of the Lake District then?” No, actually. These fells are separated from their better known Lakeland cousins by the River Lune and the M6. They nestle between the towns of Sedbergh, Kirkby Stephen and Tebay. Anyone who’s been up that way will have viewed the Howgills without giving them much thought. The southern half of the fells also fall within the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales national park
Upon first sight, the first thing you notice when amongst these amazing lumps is the very different look these hills have in comparison to the Lakes or even the Dales. The fells roll into the distance with large rounded tops and grassy hillsides. This is due to the unique geography of the area which is mainly composed of Silurian and Ordovician slates and gritstones. These are much older than the Limestone that makes up the geography of the Yorkshire Dales. There’s also very little in the way of fences in these hills I noticed. A subtle difference to other upland areas in the UK but it definitely adds to the character of the place
Niagra Falls It Aint
Cautley Spout is the go-to “tourist attraction” of the Howgils. Cascading 650 feet (198 m) down the side of Cautley Craggs this skinny, dogs hind leg of a spout boasts the Highest Cascade Waterfall above ground.
No Beer Here
The Cross Keys Temperance Inn sits on the A638 just east of Cautley Spout. It is one of very few Temperance establishments which hark back to the late 19th Century popular Methodist movement. I first spotted this pub or so I thought, while descending down the steep path beside the falls after a cold and foggy night camped up on the fells. I was like that scene from the old Castlemaine XXX advert. “Mike!” I shouted to my pal, ” I can see the pub from here!!”
We headed straight for it and thanked our lucky stars it was open. My god we were DYING for a lovey pint of Landlord or Wainwrights. We didn’t take much notice of the signage stating that this was in fact a Temperance Inn and I’d never heard the term before. In we trudged, muddy boots and all, and asked for two pints. The poor girl behind the bar had probably said the same line to many other idiots like us, “Sorry we don’t serve alcohol”.
After we’d wiped away the tears we ordered two pints….of pink lemonade. It was a refreshing change and we sat in the beer garden with our bright pink drinks and enjoyed the sun.
Bilbo Hill Baggings
For those hill baggers out there you’re in no danger of altitude sickness there are however, a couple bumps that are well worth a bimble over. The Calf (676m) is the “King of the Hill” here with (apparently) amazing panoramas in all directions on a “good” day. Lakeland’s Fells sit to the west and the South and East holds views of the Yorkshire Dales. Looking North across the Eden Valley you can see the Pennines and Cross Fell.
Here’s a little list of the summits in the Howgills:
- The Calf 676m 2218ft SD667970 Marilyn
- Calders 674m 2211ft SD670960 Nuttall
- Bram Rigg Top 672m 2205ft SD668964 Nuttall
- Great Dummacks 663m 2175ft SD678963 None
- Fell Head 640m 2100ft SD649981 Nuttall
- Yarlside 639m 2096ft SD685985 Marilyn
This is why I think of all the remote areas this country has to offer, the Howgills is one of my favourite. Leave the crowds in the lakes and the Dales, queuing to climb a hill and experience the tranquility and peacefulness of the The Howgill Fells. Just don’t tell too many people about it.
For more of my outdoor adventures find them here