Where to next? The Howgills

If your weekend passed in a blur of tedious weddings/DIY/car washing/relative visiting, it's time to start blocking out some time in your diary for number one.
Our prescription? Book in a trip to the alluring wilderness of the Howgills - land of tranquility and Jurassic adventures. 

Flipping stupendous hills

The Howgills are flipping stupendous hills. But they are also the most confusing, obtuse and unpublicised knot of English upland you will ever stumble into, and they will do their utmost to bewilder you into going elsewhere.
It�s a conspiracy see � a conspiracy intricately designed to disguise the fact that there isn�t anywhere in England as cadaverously quiet as the Howgills.
Firstly even the hills don�t know where they are. Cruise into the town of Sedburgh and you�re told that you�re entering the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Only you�re not in Yorkshire; you�re in Cumbria. But you�re not in the Lake District. So once you get you�re head round that, the next thing you�ll be wanting is a map. Three 1:50,000 maps in fact to get an idea of the terrain or a dedicated cumbersome 1:25, 000 no.19 Explorer map will do the job.

More confusion: at first glance, some of the areas of the Howgills look to have been named by someone with either a very short imagination staircase or wish-there-was-here worship for the Lake District. There�s a Borrowdale. Bang in the middle there�s a Langdale. Nearby there�s a Grisedale, and even a Grisedale Pike, then there�s a couple that have been fiddled with ever so slightly � Bowerdale, Weasdale.
Then there�s the fact that once on the M6 you could easily drive on to the Graceland of Langdale than head into the unknown of the Howgills.

But you�d be missing out. There aren�t many places where you can walk from the north to the south of a range of hills and experience so many different landscapes.
Langdale is probably the least inspiring of angles from which to approach the Howgills but you won�t be despondent for long, as you�ll swiftly descended into something really quite incredible. You�ll find yourself standing at the head of three huge, steeply raked valleys.

There aren�t that many places in Britain you can stand at the junction of three valleys, fewer still ones as dramatic as these, and virtually none that are absolutely, completely and utterly devoid of fences, walls, paths or people. To the left is Howgills� Langdale, vanishing behind the dome of Simon�s seat (587m) whose western flank makes up the wall of the higher, steeper valley of Churn Gill, across which the summit of Hand Lake in turn descends to form Ulldale.
Picking up Ulldale, head towards Black Force Waterfall and you�ll encounter a steepness of the sort that dangerously and insidiously creeps up on you. This is a side effect of squashing several 2000ft mountains in a tiny area: you need twice the thrust on half the runway.

After a night of wild-camping at Black Force Waterfall, you�ll be met with a horizon-wide vision of the Lakes just the fresh tracks of a fox for company. Crest the top of Breaks Head onto the skywalk ridge and you�ll be greeted by The Calf, which at 676m is the Howgills� highest point.
Pass the waterfall of Cautley Spout which is a woozily sheer cascade beloved of ice-climbers in winter. While the ridge above it which offers perspectives over the Pennines, Yorkshire Three Peaks and back into the Howgills. This flattens into a summit known as Great Dummacks, with faint tracks down towards Sedburgh. Even this close to civilisation, the land is alluringly wild with folds of hillside disappearing into shadowy ghylls. This mountain airlock is one of the most endearing things about the Howgills: you�re in until you�re out.

Your Howgills Ticklist

Black Force
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Impressively situated in a disc-saw ravine, Black Force waterfall and it�s namesake screes are an essential stop.

Cautley Spout
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Black Force�s eastern counterpart, the falls of Cautley Spout lie beneath the dramatic Cautley Crag. This area is a good one stop if you�re stuck for time.

The Calf
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The 676m high point of the fells. It�s on roughly the same latitude as Coniston Old Man.

Great Dummacks
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The summit following the essential ridge walk of Cautley Crag. Tricky navigation in mist, but superb views when clear.

Simon�s Seat
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Lonely and remote, this is the ultimate viewpoint over Langdale and the central, non-National Park Howgills.

Langdale
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Massive, steep-sided valley that ploughs into the centre of the fells. We dare say it�s more impressive than Lakeland�s.

Carlin Gill
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Believe it or not there�s a Grade 1 scramble hidden away near Black Force. Go find it!

Barbondale
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Deep ravine south of Sedbergh that�s well worth a visit. Interestingly, the 609m summit of Middleton Fell is called Calf Top.

Frostrow Fells
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Area of interesting upland above Dentdale. Beautiful, gentle areas of contrast with the hulking Aye Gill Pike (556m)