Hill 401

Walk date – 6th August 2023

Distance – 6 miles

Weather – Cool and wet


In our last walk report I mentioned that we would take the camera with us when we next had a walk over to Hill 401 which we did this afternoon. After yet more weeks of very poor weather, this morning remained dry although the skies were still overcast with very low cloud covering most of the fell tops. It seemed set to stay that way so we decided to go and see if we could find the double stone circle that I referred to in our 13th July report. Unfortunately the weather gods decided otherwise and it turned out to be a very wet and gloomy afternoon as can be seen from the photos below.


Off road parking below Howe Nook – Coalpit Hill – Long Mire – Seal Howe – Cairn circle – Hill 401 –  Howe Nook parking area

Howe Nook farm from our parking spot. The farm is situated on the southern edge of Crosby Ravensworth fell and we had intended to divert across to it from Hill 401 on the return leg of our walk. However when the time came we decided we’d had quite enough of walking in the rain so we didn’t bother. The path begins just beside the little stony patch in the foreground of the shot.

Here’s the view from the beginning of the path which, according to the OS map follows the course of a Roman road, with the dark mound of Hill 401 towards the left of the skyline. Its a gentle climb which alternates between being grassy or stony and its always littered with sheep droppings. Leaden skies everywhere today.

At this point along the path we met a group of bull calves and this one seemed particularly curious about us …..

….. his mates were too busy eating to pay much attention to us. We kept meeting the rest of the group as we walked further along. There were several different breeds altogether, Aberdeen Angus, Belted Galloways, Friesians, Jerseys and one Highland. Its quite unusual to see such a mix of breeds in one herd but they all seemed to be getting along very well with each other.

Sizing each other up during a stand off on Hill 401. The baby bull calf blinked first.

Looks like the cattle have had something to do with the trashing of the grouse shoot lunch shed judging by the amount of hoof marks in the mud. These doors are usually closed and locked but one of them has been shoved open, something heavy has got inside and gone straight through the wooden floor of the shed. The owners of the shed will have a bit of tidying up to do before the wooden picnic tables stored inside can be taken outside.

A glimmer of sunlight in the distance and no raindrops falling on our heads or in the ‘dog bowl’. At this point, other than being a little on the cool side, the weather wasn’t too bad.

We reach the path junction where we would normally turn off to walk over to the top of Hill 401. Its official name, according to the OS map, seems to be Coalpit Hill. We will be going over to the top of it after we’ve found the double cairn circle on Seal Howe.

The route ahead as we carry on toward Seal Howe. It began to rain at this point. Well of course it would, just when there wasn’t a scrap of shelter to be found.

A glimpse of the structures on Hill 401 as we carry on towards Seal Howe and Oddendale.

Approaching the circle of trees surrounding Oddendale hamlet and where we leave the track and turn left across the rough moorland in search of the double cairn circle. The rain is getting heavier.

With the help of J’s gps we eventually reach the double cairn circle which apparently has been here since the Neolithic age. This is the inner circle of stones with a couple stones belonging to the outer ring also visible in the shot. The cairn on Seal Howe is visible on the skyline.

The outer ring is quite large so its difficult to fit in the shot but with a zoom in its possible to glimpse some of them, the others were mostly hidden by the long grass. Hill 401 is on the centre skyline.

An attempt at getting the inner and outer rings in one shot, although they are difficult to identify thanks to the low light and the rain drops landing on the lens. Wiping them off the lens before taking the shot was futile, no sooner had the lens been wiped it was spattered all over again. In the distance are the greyed out far eastern fells.

Looking towards a rain soaked Hardendale Nab from the cairn circle. A little over three weeks ago we were up there in very windy but sunny conditions. We haven’t had any decent weather since then.

The circle of trees around Oddendale hamlet and more raindrops on the camera lens. We had planned to go over an have a look at the hamlet but decided to wait for a better day. At least we found the cairn circle.

Still raining as we made our way back to a path junction which will take us across to Hill 401.

By the time we reached the path junction it had stopped raining so I had a chance to wipe the lens dry yet again and take a shot of the low cloud activity billowing over High Street, Kidsty Pike and High Raise over to the west of us. A very dramatic and impressive scene and much more interesting than the flat grey cloud blanket we’ve been seeing lately.

Having dried out to some extent during the rain free spell we’re now getting wet again on the way up to the top of the hill.

J waits for me at the large cairn while I take this shot of another circular mound of stones although I have no idea what sort of structure it is or why it was created. There are many such oddities scattered across these lower hills.

Its lashing with rain now and quite windy up here. There should be a view of the far eastern fells behind the trig column but the rain clouds are blocking the views …..

….. and the views to the east from the large cairn are not much better either. This is a very large cairn set on a flatter area of the hilltop and is encircled by …..

….. what might have once been some kind of defensive structure as there are many indications of something like that even though everything is now down to ground level. We didn’t stay long up here, the strong wind and driving rain had us hurrying down to the path on the eastern side of the hill where it continued to rain but at least we were out of the chilly north wind.

Along the way there are several well concealed grouse butts set into the ground so I took a look down into one of them …..

….. and further along a shot of another one to show well concealed they are. There is another type which looks similar to a sturdy fence panel behind which the grouse shooters would have to stand. Some of these seem to have been used as scratching posts by the cattle, one having been completely pushed over and laying flat on the ground, another one, now leaning at a precarious angle, will no doubt soon be joining it.

A look back at our path from Hill 401 as we rejoin the main path back to the car. It is still raining heavily.

A blurry shot of the Howgills on the skyline and …..

….. another blurry shot as we approach the lunch shed once again. Wiping the lens only results in blurry shots now since we have nothing left which is dry enough to wipe the lens.

Back at the lunch shed with the rain now down to a steady pitter patter so the lens gets wiped dry with the hem of my t-shirt. Interesting to note the white shot marks on the upper half of the end of the shed. Presumably the shooters were aiming at grouse, oops!

The car is back in view so we’re almost at the end of our walk and a very wet walk it has been. The rain continues, the skies are heavy with dark clouds, the temperature remains on the cool side, and it feels like autumn rather than the middle of summer. Let’s hope for some improvement soon.