Langdale and The Calf (Howgills)

Outline of Route
Gaisgill - Rispa Pike - Uldale Head - The Calf - Hazelgill Knott - Langdale Knott - Gaisgill (Grid ref. NY 640054)
Total Distance 13.4 miles, Total Ascent 3000 feet, Equivalent Distance 19.4 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. None. Before The Calf summit go back, after the summit, go on.

Details of Route
Parking is available at Gaisgill on the old Tebay road behind the petrol station (closed for business but still in use) and in front of the church. Head towards Longdale along the hedged, straight, single-track road until, just before the little bridge over Langdale Beck there is a farm road on the right towards Ellergill. It seems strange that the valley should be called Langdale and the hamlet Longdale but a local resident assures me that these names are correct. Follow the farm road and bear left to bypass the farm. Avoid the branch road further on, on the right, which leads to more buildings and bear left towards the open fell. The farm road continues southwards between walls several yards apart until it reaches a gate. Once through this, avoid the road on the right which branches off to a barn, and head uphill past the buildings at Long Gills and on past the entrance to Low Shaw Farm. Just uphill from here a gate fastened with baler twine can be bypassed by stepping over the fence. Further uphill by Eliot Howe there is a glimpse of Langdale over the farm wall photo.

The track descends to a small marshy area, unusual among these well-drained fells, after which the track seems to disappear. This is not a problem - just head up the fell towards Uldale End and Rispa and you will find tracks further on. Keep to the left of the ridge for a good view of Uldale photo and when you reach the summit of Rispa Pike you may contemplate a rest in the shelter photo. On the way up Rispa you will no doubt have glanced westwards to the Lakeland fells. The shapely Ill Bell (above Kentmere) is most prominent from this direction. Descend to the col and continue up to Uldale Head from which you can look back from whence you came photo or look at the fine panorama photo to the south.

Follow the track down to a cairn just beyond the summit and then down the slope towards a flat grassy triangle with Docker Knott to the left and Over Sale to the right. The track curves to the left towards a marshy area of this grassy triangle at which point I recommend leaving the track and heading down the fell aiming straight for Over Sale. Climbing the slope of Over Sale is straightforward but I recommend heading for the apex of the grassy triangle and a path which leads up the right bank of the beck (not shown on the OS Explorer OL19) between Docker Knott and Over Sale. The path disappears about halfway up but provides a convenient start to the ascent. Continue to the top of Over Sale and join the path from Docker Knott to Wind Scarth and Breaks Head. Approaching the top of Breaks Head it is impossible to see the route to Bush Howe but just before the summit there is a path to the left which takes you back at an acute angle in that direction. Cut the corner if you wish, but only if you are sure of what you are doing. There is a fine view to the east as one heads down to the col photo and also to the north as one approaches the top of Bush Howe photo

From the top of Bush Howe the route to The Calf is clear to see photo and easy to follow. Peak baggers will probably want to visit the summit of White Fell Head. There is a path branching off to the right of the main path which will take them in that direction. There is no cairn or any other indication on White Fell Head where the summit is, and it is a rather flat summit, but I felt I had got near enough to stake my claim. A little to the south of here lies another clear path heading for The Calf which rejoins the main one from Bush Howe. Continue along here to the triangulation column near the summit of The Calf from which there is a fine panorama of the northern Howgills photo. I am sure this is not the true summit, which seems to lie to the east of the path going south towards Sedbergh. There is a tarn on the summit plateau and walking round it or picnicking by it seems popular with visitors photo.

Walk along the broad path heading roughly northeast for nearly half a mile to a small tarn, often dried up but still noticeable. By the end of this tarn branch off on a path to the left. This continues across a plateau from which Hazelgill Knott is not visible but then starts to descend and the route ahead becomes clear photo. It is an enjoyable walk along this whale-backed ridge over Hazelgill Knott and on to West Fell. The panorama across Bowderdale photo is fine, but the view of Langdale from West Fell photo is perhaps the highlight of the trip.

From the summit of West Fell head west down the fellside towards Langdale Knott. There is no path here though curiously there is one up the other side. From Langdale Knott go northwest, parallel to Langdale valley itself, along any of the many suitable tracks until a wall is reached. From here follow the wall northwards to the entry to Cowbound Lane. This appears on the left up a grassy slope just before reaching a barn and the gate looks like this. It is possible to walk from Langdale Knott directly to Cowbound Lane but there are a myriad of tracks and the sudden appearance of a wall apparently going in the wrong direction can be disorientating.

You are quite likely to have got this far without getting your boots wet, but this is now going to change. Even in the driest of weather Cowbound Lane is muddy. Enter it through the gate and continue along it between two walls until you exit through another gate into a field. Don't try to continue along by the wall (it is very wet) follow it at a distance of about five yards (to the left). There is some semblance of a path trodden into the lush grass. At the end of the field another wall encroaches from the left and the path continues between these two walls to Longdale. It is easy enough now to find one's way through the hamlet (turn left at the t-junction) to the little bridge and back to Gaisgill. This is an excellent walk, as good as most in the Lake District, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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