A super walk above Weasdale in the northern Howgill Fells visiting a trio of summits including Hooksey, Randygill Top and Green Bell.
|Parking:||Roadside, Church Gate|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
After visiting Harter Fell the previous month this was a more than welcome return to the Howgill Fells. Even better I was joined by my friend Wally on our first walk together in two years. Indeed I'd been holding off on this walk specially so that I could do it with Wally. This was for the simple reason that the only major summit in the Howgills that Wally hadn't visited was Hooksey, our first objective on this walk.
Weasdale is reached by a very narrow road immediately to the west of Newbiggin-on-Lune. Just before the ruined farmhouse, and before the road drops down to Weasdale Farm, there is enough room to park 2-3 cars on the right hand side of the road. This was the starting point for the walk.
"As we approached Leathgill Bridge the cloud finally began to lift from Randygill Top. Unfortunately by the time we'd hauled ourselves up the steep path on the other side the cloud had once again dropped."
Walking past the ruin, with Hooksey already in view, we dropped down past Weasdale Farm to cross Weasdale Beck. Climbing up the road on the other side we took a path on the left before reaching the house at Cow Bank. This path brought us to the foot of Hooksey's long northern ridge.
Following a thin path the subsequent climb was harder work than I remembered when I'd first climbed Hooksey in February 2008. Indeed I needed a few stops before the going finally began to ease. The forecast had been for a very cloudy day but in these early stages of the walk we were able to enjoy some sunshine. There were some particularly lovely retrospective views to the north over the Lune valley towards Crosby Garret Fell and Ash Fell.
As we gained height some of the other Howgill Fells came into view, most notably Green Bell on the opposite side of Weasdale. Also appearing were West Fell and Hazelgill Knott on the other side of Bowderdale to our right. Whilst The Calf and Fell Head were covered in cloud other fells that came into view included Simon's Seat and Bush Howe.
A pleasant ramble along Hooksey's broad ridge finally brought us to the summit and its rather pathetic cairn. Hands were shaken as Wally completed all the summits in the Howgills, it was a nice moment. Continuing on the ground soon began to drop down to Leathgill Bridge, the deep col separating Hooksey from its parent fell - the amusingly named Randygill Top.
As we approached Leathgill Bridge the cloud finally began to lift from Randygill Top. Unfortunately by the time we'd hauled ourselves up the steep path on the other side the cloud had once again dropped. As a result the only thing to see on the summit of Randygill Top was the cairn, a fairly decent one by Howgill standards.
There was even less to see as we took the path around the head of Weasdale to our next summit, Green Bell. When we reached the trig point on the latter we were surprised to see another walker - something of a rarity in these parts. This fairly elderly gentleman then spent the next ten minutes trying to give us a lesson on the history of Westmorland. I patiently nodded as I let him tell me things I already knew before he lost interest and headed off into the fog.
Whilst all the summits in the Howgills excel as viewpoints that of Green Bell is one of the very best. It was a shame therefore that the cloud base had not managed to shift yet and so visibility was so restricted. On the other hand both Wally and I had been up here before so were still able to enjoy the panorama in our mind's eye.
The next section of the walk was new to both of us. Taking a path heading north from the trig point we soon dropped down to a lower path where we finally emerged from the cloud. Almost immediately we were greeted with a superb view into the side valley of Great Swindale.
Briefly following this path above the valley we soon detoured off to the left to visit the cairn on Hunthoof Pike. The cairn was superbly situated over a sudden drop with great views of the lesser hills to the north of us and to the Orton Fells beyond.
Indeed so interesting did the nearby hills look that we decided not to return to the main path and instead made our way north-west on to Turn End. Here there were good views back to Green Bell, where the cloud had typically now lifted from the summit, as well as to Hooksey. From Turn End we descended north into Little Swindale where, sheltered from the wind, we stopped for a bite to eat.
Continuing down into the shallow valley we passed a small stone shelter built next to a large boulder which was notable for its patches of red. Who says you can't get blood from a stone? Continuing on we crossed the tiny Little Swindale Beck. On the other side we joined a thin path that soon joined a broader track by a wall. This track soon led us back to the road where a left turn brought us back to the car.
While the lack of views on Green Bell and Randygill Top were somewhat disappointing the weather could definitely have been worse. In fact, under the cloud, visibility was excellent, what Wally referred to as HD quality. While the visit to Hooksey was memorable I was also impressed with Hunthoof Pike, a spot I'd definitely like to revisit.