Howgill Fells & Westmorland Walks
Green Bell & Yarlside
Date: 1st April 2013
Distance: 7.0 miles
Ascent: 2726 feet
Time: 4 hours 15 mins
Start Grid Ref: SD698969
A superb walk in the north-eastern area of the Howgill Fells including the tops of Green Bell, Randygill Top and Yarlside.
Cross Keys - Narthwaite - Wandale Hill - Grere Fell - Green Bell - Stockless - Randygill Top - Kensgriff - Yarlside - Ben End - Cross Keys
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Incredibly it has been over two years since I last set foot in the Howgills - one of my favourite walking areas in the country. On the last occasion I was recognised (as a direct result of this website) by a another walker (Wally) and, through the power of Facebook, we later became friends. However, it was not until this walk that I actually got my act together and organised a walk and meet him properly for the first time. Wally is from Sedbergh and has been walking in the Howgill Fells for nigh on thirty years. These hills are his passion and it was a real pleasure to go for a walk with him and chat about our hillwalking experiences both in the Howgills and further afield.
In addition to the company the weather conditions also made the walk a memorable one. It was a bright sunny day for the most part but, very strangely, a ribbon of cloud seemed to hang above the Rawthey valley for the entire duration of the walk meaning that some parts of the route (such as the top of Wandale Hill) were constantly in the shade whilst other parts were always in the sunshine.
This phenomena was all the more remarkable considering the strength of the wind. Not particularly noticeable until we'd got up on to Green Bell it was at its strongest on Kensgriff where it was blowing as hard as I've been out in for a long time - yet above the cloud barely moved. Either side of Kensgriff on the higher fells of Randygill Top and Yarlside the wind was still strong but not quite as fierce.
From Grere Fell onwards we also encountered a fair amount of snow on the ground which also made the going underfoot quite interesting. It also greatly enhanced the views, which on a day of excellent visibility, were really quite superb. Probably the best of a number a fine viewpoint was Green Bell from where there extensive views of the Dales to the east, the Howgills to the south, the Lakeland mountains to the west and the North Pennines to the north.
Whilst the majority of the walk was quite easy going there was no avoiding a steep ascent on to Yarlside. The shortest route is via the col with Kensgriff but it is still quite a forbidding looking climb. I was particularly dubious about it due to the patchy covering of snow as I didn't have any crampons. As it happened we were able pick our way up on grass and it was not until the gradients had eased that we came across an unavoidable patch of hardened snow which we negotiated with care.
The unfortunate thing about the strength of the wind was that we were unable to spend much time on the summit of either Kensgriff or Yarlside as there was no shelter at all. So it was that after the steep climb up on to Yarlside we almost immediately began a slightly less steep but far longer descent directly back to our starting point, the Cross Keys.
This was a brilliant reminder as to how wonderful the Howgill Fells are, the scenery, company and weather combined to make it a memorable day. As Wally himself would say - it was "beltin'!"