Hand Lake, Uldale Head and Rispa Pike

Walk date – 2nd July 2021

Distance – 9.25 miles

Weather – a murky cloudy morning, a warm and sunny afternoon, no wind


A long walk in the Howgills today and although the title may indicate otherwise we did not visit anything remotely resembling a large body of water, namely a lake. Hand Lake is simply the name of one of the fells in the Howgill group. After a short drive from home we parked up at Raisgill in a very small lay-by, (two/three cars max) beside the bridge over the River Lune. From there its a short walk down to cross the A685 into Gaisgill and the start of the walk. The day began with what has, of late, been the prevailing weather pattern, a cloudy morning developing into a sunnier late morning and afternoon, although today the last of the low and murky cloud didn’t finally disappear until around lunchtime. Despite that it was very mild with no breeze and we did the entire walk in T-shirts and shorts. If you’re looking for solitude and a few hours of peace and quiet try the Howgills, apart from the farmer doing the muck spreading we didn’t see another soul during the entire walk.


Raisgill – Gaisgill – Ellergill – Long Gills – Uldale End – Uldale Beck – Hand Lake – Blakethwaite Bottom – Uldale Head – Rispa Pike – Uldale End – Elliot Howe – Long Gills – Ellergill – Gaisgill – Raisgill

From Gaisgill we followed the signposted lane towards the village of Longdale. Where the lane crossed the bridge over Langdale Beck we left it to pass through a metal gate and walked the grassy route across several fields to pick up the track coming up from Ellergill farm.  An alternative route at the bridge is to turn right into the farm, bear left at the barns and pick up the rough track from there. Here’s look over a hedge back towards the little hamlet of Gaisgill as we cross the fields. The farmer was busy muck spreading in this one so we didn’t get too close to the hedge, just in case!

Crossing the fields above Gaisgill with a very murky view of the Howgills ahead of us. We’re hoping the cloud will dissipate as the morning wears on.

Eventually the field path joins up with the track from Ellergill farm and shortly after the junction of the paths we came alongside this group of very derelict (as in falling to pieces) barns and sheds. Further along the track is Low Shaw farm so these old storage places might be part of that farm.

Here and there we get a slight glimmer of something brighter about to appear then the cloud closes ranks and the Howgills remain murky.

A look back down the track where things seem to be a little brighter despite the haze.

Low Shaw Farm on the hillside below us.

Beyond the farm the rough track gives way to an identifiable trodden route over rough grassland. Here’s a look over the wall into Langdale, although obviously not the more well known Langdale in the Lake District.

To the left of Langdale Beck is Langdale Knott.

Reaching Uldale End and a good view down towards Churn Gill which runs between Middleton Fell and Simon’s Seat on the left and Hand Lake on the right.

Middleton Fell, Churn Gill and a couple of large sheepfolds on the bottom end of Hand Lake

Unfortunately the height we’ve gained has now to be lost, and re-gained, as Uldale Beck lies between us, on Uldale End, and Hand Lake on t’other side of it. Nothing for it then but to begin to descend and head for the beck. A couple of brighter spots appeared through the cloud but disappeared just as quickly as they had arrived.

A couple of sheep accompanied us during the descent.

An easy beck crossing thanks to the lack of rain lately.

We had a short stop for drinks (and the Mars Bar) when we had crossed the beck and to take a breather before tackling the steep climb out of the beck. There was nothing much by way of a path but here and there quad bike tracks came in handy. Uldale End and the descent track are on view on the other side of the beck.

Looking back at Uldale End as we reach the main track up to the summit of Hand Lake. Its nothing more than a quad bike track but it does make for easier walking across the rough grassland. Uldale Beck and Churn Gill join forces just below and continue for a short distance before joining Langdale Beck towards the right of the shot. 

If anything the cloud seemed to be getting murkier as we continued on up to Hand Lake summit. Nevertheless I chanced a shot over to Uldale Head on the other side of Uldale Beck. Its not a good day for photography so far.

After a few false summits along the way the actual summit is just ahead of us although there isn’t a cairn, a trig point or even a single stone marking the top. That is par for the course in the Howgills, summit markers are rare and when you do come across one it can be a bit of a surprise.

From Hand Lake summit a view of Simon’s Seat on the left and Docker Knott on the right.

The surrounding views were poor so we started our descent to Blakestone Bottom.

Heading down to Blakestone Bottom from Hand Lake and over on the left a little glimmer of sunlight on Over Sale, Docker Knott’s next door neighbour. Fell Head forms the skyline.

Blakestone Bottom and the steep path rising up the slopes of Uldale Head. We decided that we’d make Blakestone Bottom our lunch stop and tackle the climb to Uldale Head after lunch.

Climbing the steep path out of Blakestone Bottom after our lunch stop. This is a look along Uldale Beck with Rispa Pike over on the right of the ridge line.

Finally the murk begins to clear, brighter skies start appearing and a chance to look across into Great Ulgill Beck towards Breaks Head.

A look back at Hand Lake from the climb up to Uldale Head. Our descent path from Hand Lake is on the right of the shot.

The view along Little Ulgill Beck with Fell Head on the right skyline.

The gradient eases and the ridge line comes into view as we approach the summit of Uldale Head. Rispa Pike is over on the right of the shot.

The last section of the steady climb up to the summit of Uldale Head.

Looking along Uldale with Rispa Pike and Hand Lake on either side of Uldale Beck.

A cairn marking the summit of Uldale Head is one of those Howgills surprises I mentioned earlier. The M6 is snaking its way through the Lune Valley behind J on the left. The murky grey cloud has mostly dissipated but there’s still a lot of haze around which is ruining long distance views.

Looking south from the summit of Uldale Head. Linghaw is  on the right rising to Fell Head on the left with Small Gill between the two.

A look back towards the cairn on Uldale Head as we set off along the ridge heading for Rispa Pike.

Looking ahead to Rispa Pike. Its very warm and sunny now but not much is visible beyond the pike thanks to the thick haze.

Approaching Rispa Pike after an enjoyable tramp along the ridge.

The view back along Uldale and our route across the ridge from the shelter on Rispa Pike.

J taking the opportunity to sit down for five minutes on Rispa Pike.

Looking across to Hand Lake from Rispa Pike with Simon’s Seat just behind it over to the right. It was nice and peaceful just to sit for a few minutes in the still air and sunshine before carrying on along the ridge.

The view across Eller Gill as we drop down from Rispa Pike. The path visible on the left is the one we followed on the return leg from Rispa Pike on the walk we did on 25th July 2019. Even from up here we can’t spot a path that’s supposed to be there and which we kept looking out for but never managed to find.

Slightly less haze as we drop down further towards the small rise of Elliot Howe. 

A look back along Langdale before the view disappears.

Back on the rough track again and heading towards the derelict barns we passed on the outward leg.

Approaching Ellergill farm. The farmer who was muck-spreading as we walked the fields this morning is doing the same thing again in the field behind the wall on the right.

Ellergill farm where we follow the track round to the right, pass the barns and …..

….. emerge from the farm lane back onto the lane where we started out this morning. There’s the bridge over Langdale Beck and the gate we passed through. There is no footpath sign or a private land sign but there was a path leading up a banking so that’s what we followed. Still not sure though if access is permitted. If in doubt use the farm access lane going off behind me.

Back in Gaisgill at the end of the lane. The white van driver is waiting for a gap in the traffic so he can turn onto the A685, we’ll have to do the same as we have to cross it to get back to the car.

Traffic isn’t frequent on the minor B6261 so we have a quiet walk along the road back to the car which is parked up over on the left of the shot. Its approaching mid-afternoon now so the sun is strong and in places the tarmac was beginning to melt. So are we and we’re looking forward to getting our packs off and flopping onto the car seats for a few minutes before driving home and getting the kettle on. Before you go you might like to read this letter https://www.covid19assembly.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Letter-to-Sir-Simon-Stevens.pdf which has been sent to the Chief Executive Officer of NHS England, with copies to relevant regulators as well as law enforcement, by the lawyer representing Dr Sam White. Dr White has had his licence to practice medicine suspended for raising concerns during his NHS five year revalidation appraisal process with the NHS in November 2020. The letter, which is set out clearly in a very readable format, has been made publicly available as a matter of public interest since it raises concerns of alleged criminal conduct and breach of legal obligations by those leading the covid response. The above link opens the letter in pdf form which can be saved and shared as widely as possible. It is time for anyone who is still unaware of what has been happening in the NHS to be acquainted with the facts so please share as widely as you can, thank you.