Walk date – 20th May 2020

Weather – warm and sunny, light cloud, slight southerly breeze, hazy

Distance – 11.3 miles

A long walk up the valley of Bowderdale, in The Howgill fells, then a climb out of the valley up to The Calf, the highest point in this group of fells, followed by a high level return over Hazelgill Knott and West Fell.  An excellent walk in lovely weather only slightly marred by the hazy conditions.


Bowderdale Foot – Bowderdale – The Calf – Hazelgill Knott – West Fell – Bowderdale Foot

A short distance up the hill from Bowderdale Foot is the beginning of the footpath into Bowderdale.

Heading into Bowderdale. The footpath is easy to follow all the way along the valley but it is very narrow. The fell on the other side of Bowderdale Beck is Hooksey.

Hooksey is an elongated fell and stretches along Bowderdale for well over half of the length of the valley.

View back along Bowderdale from the valley path.

Looking ahead along Bowderdale with Yarlside just beginning to appear at the head of the valley.

Intricate sheepfold beside Bowderdale Beck.

On the left Hooksey comes to an end and next in line, across the gill, is Randygill Top with Yarlside in the distance.

Randy Gill, the dividing line batween Hooksey and Randygill Top. Deep gills like this are a characteristic of the Howgill fells.

More than halfway along the valley at this point so time for a look back along the valley.

Yarlside straight ahead.

The footpath winds around Yarlside and brings Hare Shaw and Hazelgill Knott into view. ….

….. eventually turning away from the beck and rising up the valley across the slopes of Hazelgill Knott from where this retrospective view of the valley was taken.

Ahead the path climbs steeply across the fellside.

Its not a consistently steep climb and there is a stretch of flatter walking further up which provides a little light relief, and an opportunity to take a look back down the valley, before the next steep section.

The path begins to curve steeply to the right and provides a view of the peat hags of Hare Shaw and just a glimpse of the upper part of Cautley Crag. As each bend in the curve is reached more keep appearing so this final section seems never ending.

It does come to an end of course and flatter ground is finally reached. This is the largest of the handful of little tarns clustered close to the junction of this path with the one coming up over West Fell and Hazelgill Knott. At the junction the two paths become one which then continues off to the left towards the trig point on The Calf.

View from the summit of The Calf. The lighter area just below is White Fell and beyond it is a partial view of Fell Head and Breaks Head. From the start of the walk to this point the distance covered is 5.75 miles. Very warm work in today’s sunny weather. There were plenty of walkers, runners and cyclists in evidence today, on the way up we were passed by two cyclists and one walker all heading in the opposite direction, at the summit walkers were arriving from all directions, and on the return leg there were people ahead of us and following on behind. Lots of greetings exchanged by everyone around and it seemed as though people were beginning to vote with their feet.

No long distance views today thanks to the haze but the view into Langdale from the summit is not too bad.

Back at the tarn where two chaps were returning from the summit and heading for the Hazelgill Knott/West Fell path, more greetings exchanged as they approached us. The surface of the tarn is ruffled by the slight breeze.

Lunch above Langdale as the two chaps carry on past us and stop for their lunch further down the path. Another pair of walkers have also stopped for their lunch a little higher up behind us.

Hooksey and Randygill Top on the far side of Bowderdale, and on this side of the valley is a view of almost the whole of our route back to Bowderdale Foot. The haze seems to be thickening across the northern Pennines.

Back on the path now and heading towards Hazelgill Knott. Monday night’s rain has made little impression on the firm ground.

Still heading for Hazelgill Knott with Simon’s Seat on the left across Langdale.

A look back towards The Calf as we carry on towards Hazelgill Knott.

An enjoyable tramp over to Hazelgill Knott on the right of the shot.

From the climb up Hazelgill Knott on our right is this view of Randygill Top and Kensgriff.

On our left Bush Howe and Simon’s Seat are on the skyline, below them the lower fell is Grains.

Langdale and Langdale Knott to the left as the path curves round towards West Fell.

Curving round towards the West Fell path.

Looking back towards Grains and Bush Howe along Langdale.

Looking ahead for this view into Langdale.

The last section of the climb up to West Fell summit.

Nothing marks the summit of West Fell, which goes for most of the Howgill tops. There’s very little to build cairns with, or walls for that matter, which explains why there are none. The wide and flat summit area restricts the surrounding views but on the left are Hooksey and Randygill Top with Yarlside popping up towards the centre.

Descending West Fell and a clear view down Bowderdale Foot. This path will join the one we used on the outward leg at the point where the enclosure wall below us begins to curve round.

Back at the junction of the two paths so we’ve completed the circle. A look back along Bowderdale with Yarlside in the centre, Hooksey on the left and West Fell on the right. From here a ten minute walk takes us back to …..

….. Bowderdale Foot where the car is parked off road behind the trees on the right. There’s another small parking area lower down beyond the left hand bend, it was empty when we first arrived, it was full when we returned. We exchanged greetings with two walkers who passed by just after this photo was taken and they, and another couple, were dumping rucksacks and changing their boots as we drove away. Hope they’ve enjoyed their day just as much as we have.