Afternoon walk in the Howgills following a morning of heavy rain. I’m lucky enough to live 45 minutes away so close enough for a half day walk in what are usually deserted hills. Today was no exception and I saw no-one in the 4 hours I was out. I parked at the Cross Keys near Cautley Spout and first went up the steep grassy slope to Yarlside. My calf muscles complained at what was the first steep slope for 3 months. The summit was in the mist and the wind was strong, so I followed a compass bearing down the even steeper grassy slope towards Kensgriff which I went over and then up another steep grassy slope on my way to Randygill Head.

The area has some very unusual hill names derived from Old Norse with the name Howgill coming from the Old Norse word haugr meaning a hill or barrow, and gil meaning a narrow valley. The hills are not particularly high, with Yarlside at 639m being the second highest, and are often overlooked for the higher and more rugged Cumbrian Fells.

I descended steeply to Leathgill Bridge and then followed the stream westwards over very rough ground down to the main Bowderdale Beck valley. Then steeply up the other side to the long north-south ridge which ultimately leads to the Calf. I didn’t go that far but dropped down to the col between Bowderdale Beck and Cautley Spout and from there back to the car.

Not many plants to look at today, the area is very overgrazed and moss and matt grass tend to be the norm. Some good examples of star moss today (see photo), apparently some people use it make a tea which they believe dissolves kidney and gall bladder stones. Not sure I’ll be trying that idea…..

Published by alpinejane

Explorer, hill walker, mountaineer, backpacker, scrambler, Mountain Leader, member of Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team and lover of wild places

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