Monday, 3 January 2011

East Howgills for 2011

OK, so it was the start of a new year, abate 1 day late, this being the 2nd of January 2011. The weather forecast said it was going to be sunny. So I had 4 choices of routes. A Scotland trip to bag 3 Marilyns, a 3 cycled Marilyn bagging trip, Lake District to bag a few Nuttalls or a quad of Deweys in the Howgills. As I didn't fancy long drives in the dark nights, only the eastern Howgills ticked all the right boxes. 

The roads were quiet at 07:30am as I drove to Cross keys, just north of Sedbergh town in the Howgills. Once parked and booted up I immediately changed my mind in the direction of the route. Instead of anti-clockwise, I went clock-wise. Why can't I stick to a plan?

I therefore started the hard slog up Yarlside, which I've previously climbed in 2005. Halfway up, a significant path skirted Yarlside to it's saddle with Kensgriff my premier objective. It was here that I realised the anti-clockwise direction would have been far easier and faster. You could almost see the whole route from this standpoint. Why can't I stick to a plan? (whoops I've already said that!)

I missed out Yarlside as the extra climbing and "significant" descending would have added close to 45 minutes to route time. At the saddle I heard motorbikes revving and immediately saw 2 motocross riders zoom straight up the 33% slope in less then a minute. Oh, how I wished I could have had a backer as I slogged up to Kensgriff.

Over the top, I then needed to skirt around Randygill (another previously bagged Nuttall) to a long ridged Dewey called Hooksey. Then another skirting around to Green Bell, a Dewey with a trig point, a rarity for these parts. 

So far nothing special about these hills, just frozen grass and snowpatches. The next objective was Harter Fell and to get there I followed a small rough unpathed stream called Gais Gill. These small streams often have very few visitors and this was evident by no paths. I often think they are sometimes better to walk along side then bagging the boring mountains and hills that tower over them.

Harter Fell was an easy bag, with a dozen wild Howgill ponies all watching me about from 50 metres away. That completed the Deweys.

However, a HumP (hundred metre prominent) hill called Wansdale Hill was still to be bagged. This looked easier on the map then in reality. Google earth showed the eastern side was the best side as there was large gaps in the walls. But viewing the hillside from Harter Fell showed it was steep and unrelenting. I therefore decided to bag it from the shallower north. The ground was rough but easy in gradient. The descent was also easy by taking a baring towards the Mountain View house in the valley and then following the bridleway to Narthwaite farm.

Like most paths that go through farm yards I just don't like it, and this was one of those nightmares for me. This path went right next to the farm cottage, and the dog's kennels. The signage was a yellow dotted arrow. But I knew it was the wrong way as the one I followed was the farmers road. So I had to return back to the farm yard and guess the correct route back to Cross keys. I jumped over a cattle gate, then another before just seeing the correct pathway...Phew!

I finished much earlier then expected (due to missing out Yarlside) and started to kick myself for not bringing 2 maps of easy Dewey hills on the way back. 

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