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Monday, 8 August 2011

Friday 29th July 2011 Sedbergh to Newbiggin-on-Lune

Weather:  Sunny and warm with some cloud
Distance:  10.9 miles

Excellent night's sleep and a tasty breakfast with homemade marmalade and jam, local honey and freshly squeezed orange juice - delicious.  We needed stuff for lunch so we called into a cafe I visited last time on The Dales Way.  The cafe had only just opened and the lady was slightly frazzled but she made us lovely cobs to take away and also flapjacks.  We were on our way by 9:20am.  It was an immediate steep climb out of Sedbergh and on to the fells.  A tough but pretty walk by a deep gill with the sound of water tumbling over rocks.  We spotted a fellrunner on his way up the same route - keen and fit.  The guidebook had commented we needed to be careful with our navigation up on the Howgills so we kept a close eye on the map and instructions.  The fellrunner proved to be the last person we saw until we arrive in Newbiggin. 10.9 miles of glorious peace and solitude with no stiles, gates, electricity pylons or daytrippers.  Just us and the wonderful magical fells (I'd been looking forward to this all week).  Once we left the gill  and started heading north for the ridge walk the path was broad and grassy.  It was an up and down path and steep in places.  The views opened up and we could see Pen-y-ghent, Ingloborough and Whernside behind us.  They remind me of Yorkshire ladies of a certain age - big and matronly who are scary to approach but, under a fierce exterior, they are beautiful to behold and full of hidden charms and delights. 

The Howgill Fells are incredible - the most intense, awe-inspiring walking I have done.  This is not because they are scary or extremely hard but because they are so beautiful and remote.  I've spent years admiring them from the M6 wishing I could walk amongst them and now here I was and, for the first section, I could see the M6 looking like  an n-gauge model below us.  We rounded a bend and there was the range of fells opening out head of us.  Folds of land, like folds of velvet Mrs C commented, nestling into the landscape and decorated with tiny spots of white.  The sheep on the fells are very intrepid.  The steep sides of the fells are lined with sheep paths and the sheep were scattered about, sure-footed and grazing on the juicy grass.  The highest fell we climbed was The Calf (676m).  From there we could see the Pennines ahead of us with the three peaks still very much in view behind us.  We could see our path ahead snaking over the fells.  To the left was Langdale Beck and to the right was Bowderdale Beck with grains and gills running into them.  The becks flowed down the ravines in a serpentine fashion with the sunshine glinting on the water and the fell sides folded down into the bottom of the gills.  We reached the top of Hazelgill Knot and stopped for lunch in the next dip looking back the way we had come.  We lunched in isolated splendour and after we'd eaten we lay back with heads resting on rucksacks and viewed the fells which now surrounded us.  We basked like two seals in the warm sunshine and gentle breeze.  An hour later we continued the walk but reluctant to leave such an inspiring, magnificent place.

I was on the look out for fell ponies but we didn't see any.  The next fell we were heading for was West Fell (542m).  Here we had even better views of the Pennines in the distance and the wide valley below us.  We started heading down to Bowderdale.  The guide book had promised us a good spot for a break by the beck and a bridge and it was an excellent spot.  We sat under a shady tree, dangled our feet in the cold, refreshing water and had a snack before the final mile to Newbiggin and our B&B.  We passed through the hamlet of Wath and were greeted by a pack of hounds barking at us (safely behind a gate) and the largest, most gorgeous chickens.  Five of them were pecking around the lane and followed us for a short while and then called after us.  The lane was quiet and soon we were reaching the bright lights and civilisation of Newbiggin.  The first house we came to had the most beautiful garden with a mini Howgill Fells in it!  The owners were out gardening and we chatted for a while - one of the fells even had a trig point.  They made their Howgills from the soil and builders rubble dug out for the house improvements.  We arrived at our B&B Tranna Hill at 5:00pm - tired. hot but very, very content after an excellent days walking.  Our kind host, Brenda, drove us to a pub in Ravenstonedale as there isn't a pub in Newbiggin.  Fish and chips went down very well.  A day to remember.

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