Harter Fell and Wandale Hill

Walk date – 28th May 2020

Distance – 7.2 miles

Weather – hot and sunny with a very light breeze, slight haze

We were back in The Howgills today for this medium length walk over Harter Fell and Wandale Hill. These two fells are situated precisely alongside the River Rawthey, which forms the eastern boundary of the Howgill fells, and, as with all outliers, they can be awkward to incorporate into walks over other fells in the Howgill group. They are quite separate from each other so there are no gentle cols to stroll across between the two of them, each has to be ascended and then descended before you can move on to the next one. However there are pathways between the two and using them creates an interesting and very enjoyable walk.


Handley’s Bridge – Murthwaite Park – Murthwaite Rigg – Harter Fell – Adamthwaite – Adamthwaite Sike – Wandale Hill – Narthwaite – Handley’s Bridge

Looking south from the lay-by on the A683 between Kirby Stephen and Sedbergh. Handley’s Bridge is about a hundred yards behind us. Before you can cross the bridge there is a double length metal gate to pass through. It looks just like any other field gate set into the hedgerow so it would be easy to dismiss it as just that, but it is the beginning of the route and is easy to identify.

From the bridge a look downstream at the River Rawthey flowing gently down to join the River Lune.

From the bridge the track rises a short way and as it begins to curve around towards Narthwaite we pass through a field gate on the right hand side of the bend and begin walking through Murthwaite Park with this view of Wild Boar Fell on the skyline.

Walking over the pastureland of the park towards the area of woodland. Harter Fell is just in view over on the left skyline.

The path rises gently through the dappled shade of the woodland …..

….. and eventually emerges out into the open on Murthwaite Rigg. We head towards the old barn on the right where we will curve around to the left and head for the path above the wall running across Harter Fell’s lower slopes.

Across the valley to the left of Harter Fell is Adamthwaite Bank, in the centre, and to the left are the lower slopes of Wandale Hill.

We reach the barn and stop for a look back and a view of Cautley Crag. From here there is just a short walk to the point where we turn left and …..

….. begin walking up to what seemed at first to be another old barn …..

….. which turned out to be a whole lot bigger when we came alongside it. Was it once a farmhouse we wondered, it was certainly big enough to have been.

Still out in the open on Murthwaite Rigg and heading for the junction with the path around Harter Fell. Its a very hot morning but a very slight breeze wafted around us every now and again which was more than welcome.

We reach the path junction where we turn left and carry on beside the wall. Ahead of us is the lower hill of Adamthwaite Bank and behind that is Grere Fell.

The path leads around Harter Fell and offers a lovely view down into the valley where the hill farm of Adamthwaite is situated. The farm sits at the base of Wandale Hill whose lower slopes provide good pastureland for the sheep.

From the path a look southwards along the lovely woods of the Rawthey valley.

We draw level with the farm and have a good view of part of our route towards Wandale Hill. Towards the bottom right of the shot is a track, just above the single outbuilding, which curves right and then left towards the large barn in the centre above the farm buildings. When we reach that point we’ll turn up the slope, pass the upper barn and continue on around the base of Wandale Hill. That’s still some way off though and before then we have the ascent of Harter Fell to be getting on with.

We continued on the path around the base of the fell and when we reached this beck we left the path, turned right alongside the beck and at a suitable point crossed over and continued the uphill climb.

An interesting beck, it didn’t have the usual jumble of rocks and stones in its bed, instead it descended step by step over these slab layers. The ewe and her lamb in the shot had just walked casually across but I was a bit too late with the camera to catch them stopping for a drink of water halfway across. There wasn’t much water in the beck so we could have used the slabs to walk up instead of keeping to the rough grassland, it never occurred to either of us at the time, doh! It would have been a lot easier than walking over the energy sapping tussocky stuff.

We move away from the beck and head straight for the top with a look back for this view, left to right, of Cautley Crag, Yarlside and Kensgriff on the skyline.

From the bottom of the valley to the summit its a steady and straightforward climb of about 400′ but there is no path and, as can be seen from the foreground in the photo, the grassland is rough, uneven and tussocky. Energy sapping stuff to walk over on a hot day.

On the right skyline is Wild Boar Fell and on its lower slopes are the limestone pavements of Stennerskeugh and Fell End where we walked on a very windy day on 21st March this year.

I walked a short distance from the summit cairn for a closer look at the pavements …..

….. and for a better view of Harry Hope’s farmhouse and fields below the Fell End pavement, see our 21st March walk for a little more info re Harry Hope’s farm.

Looking west from Harter Fell summit for this view of Cautley Crag on the left and Yarlside over on the right …..

….. then a little further to my right for a look across Adamthwaite Bank towards Randygill Top, Grere Fell and Green Bell. It was about time for a little light refreshment so after taking the photos we moved back over towards the Wild Boar Fell side to sit and enjoy the view from there, during which twenty minutes somehow slid by unnoticed. Not that it mattered since there was no need to rush off anywhere, all we had to do was go back down and make our way over to Adamthwaite Farm and round to Wandale Hill

We eventually got going again and made our way back down beside the beck. with the upper barn and the green pastures of the farm over on our left. Above the green field is the long back slope of Wandale Hill and that’s where we’re heading for next.

We follow the fence line back down to the path we left earlier. It carries on for just a short distance before it meets the Adamthwaite road, the thin grey line running across the centre of the shot …..

….. but instead of following the track over to the right, after we passed through the gate, we curved round to the left and followed the sheep …..

….. and after a few short steps we were up on to the Adamthwaite road and walking back down towards the farm and Wandale Hill.

Looking south across the farm towards Baugh Fell …..

….. and eventually arriving at the footpath to the right I mentioned earlier. Just out of shot on the right is a signpost indicating that this is a public footpath to Narthwaite.

A short sharp pull up the stony track from the farm, followed by a mop round two very shiny faces and a look back at Harter Fell while we were about it. Its about one o’clock, the sun is high and its very, very hot. Where’s that light breeze when you could do with it?

Just a short distance beyond the upper barn is this very large vertical rock which seems to have been deliberately placed rather than being just an erratic but I can find no information about it or its purpose. Just to the left of it though is a gate leading onto the next path we need which will take us around Adamthwaite Sike and over to Wandale Hill so this is where we leave the stony farm track …..

….. and head across the assorted humps and bumps which lead us onto the track going all the way around Wandale Hill and on to Narthwaite.

We have a ringside view of Yarlside as we leave the path and take to the rough tussocky stuff once again to make our way up Wandale Hill.

A look back at Randygill Top as we sweat our pathless way up the hillside.

The effort is worth it though and the view from the top of Wandale Hill eastwards is extensive and unrestricted. On the left of the shot is Harter Fell, followed by the limestone pavements of Stenneskeugh and Fell End with Wild Boar Fell rising above them. The view to the south is just as open but that’s where the sun was so I took no photos in that direction for obvious reasons.

Surprisingly, as stones are rare in the Howgills, Wandale Hill also has a summit cairn so somebody has gone to the trouble of lugging a few up here, and creating a reasonably sized one too.

Looking south west towards Yarlside, Kensgriff and Randygill Top from the summit.

A closer look at Yarlside and Kensgriff …..

….. and also of Cautley Crag.

Descending southwards over the long shoulder of Wandale Hill with a hazy view along the Rawthey valley.

To our left as we descend is Baugh Fell, one of the views I couldn’t take when we were back up on the summit.

At this point we come to a wall straddling the fell from east to west beyond which there is no footpath so the route of return is either to the west down to the footpath around the base of the fell, or down to the east over a stile, whichever way is chosen they both lead down to Narthwaite. A quick shot of Cautley Crag and then we go over the stile …..

….. where this little group of young bullocks had been having the place all to themselves. They were happy enough to stand there while J climbed over the stile but as soon as I climbed over and started walking they turned tail and ran away at full pelt. Perhaps I was wearing my ‘don’t mess with me’ expression.

Now that we’re further south, and minus the bullocks, I can look back and show some of the expansive views that we had from the summit. Below is the wooded area of Murthwaite Park we walked through and above the woods the open grassland of Murthwaite Rigg. On the skyline are Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell and the A683 is below Baugh Fell to the bottom right.

Having descended the steep slope from the stile we reach the grassy terrace path which began at Adamthwaite Farm and traverses the eastern side of Wandale Hill all the way down to Narthwaite.

A delightful green terrace path with the vast bulk of Baugh Fell for company on the other side of the A683, a really lovely path to round off our walk. This path and the one on the west side of Wandale Hill both meet up at Narthwaite. The buildings there had the look of a farm but it wasn’t clear whether it was still a working farm or not. From Narthwaite the path leads down along a shady path …..

….. taking us past this barn on the way and just a very short distance below, where J is walking, is the gate by the bend in the track where we turned off at the beginning of today’s walk.

The bend in the track leads directly back to Handley’s Bridge …..

….. from where I take the last photo of the day, looking upstream at the River Rawthey. This has been a great little walk, just enough ups to let you know they needed plenty of effort but not enough to be troublesome on a hot day, in between them a variety of routes and terrains, level and undulating, sunny and shaded, stony and smooth, views in every direction and, all in all, well worth being on anyone’s ‘to do’ list. The lovely weather was just icing on a very tasty cake.