Howgill Fells & Westmorland Walks
Calders via Bram Rigg Beck
Date: 23rd Mar 2014
Distance: 11.0 miles
Ascent: 3050 feet
Time: 5 hours 55 mins
With: Wally and Gary
Start Grid Ref: SD662920
Another fantastic walk in the Howgill Fells, this time approaching Calders via a little used route via Bram Rigg Beck and the steep Calders Rigg.
Sedbergh - Lockbank Farm - Crosdale Beck - Seat Knott - Bram Rigg Beck - Calders Rigg - Calders - The Calf - Calders - Rowantree Grains - Sickers Fell - Knott - Ashbeck Gill - Sedbergh
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: For this walk in the sublime Howgill Fells I wanted to incorporate an approach from the west. An obvious choice of routes would have been one of the two bridleways climbing either Bram Rigg or White Fell Head. Instead I noticed on the map a path alongside Bram Rigg Beck before petering out part way up Calders Rigg. Realising this provided an opportunity to climb directly on to Calders, the second highest of the Howgills, I decided that was the route I wanted to take.
Joining me again was Wally, this time together with his uncle Gary. Setting off from Sedbergh we accessed the open fell from just above Lockbank Farm before contouring around the lower slopes of Winder. After dropping down to ford Crosedale Beck we then continued around the lower slopes of Nab, all the while enjoying some fine views down the Lune Valley. However, it was not until we reached the top of the small neat top of Seat Knott that we got a first dramatic view of the Howgills.
The approach via Bram Rigg Beck proved to be even better than I'd hoped. From a ford where the main track climbs up on to Bram Rigg we took the thin path heading upstream with our objective Calders directly ahead of us. The path criss-crossed the beck on numerous occasions before we arrived at the foot of Calders Rigg, a lovely spot where the confluence of two streams form Bram Rigg Beck. The view up to Calders from here was very impressive.
The climb up Calders Rigg started on some clear zigzags before continuing in a straight line up the grassy fellside. Although fairly steep height was quickly gained, as we did so the view opened up quite wonderfully. As we approached the 600m contour we also came across the rapidly thawing remants of some snow fall from two nights before. The combination of snow on the ground, broken cloud, patches of sunshine and excellent visibility made conditions almost perfect. Having said that we did cop a hailshower on the way up and near the top of Calders Rigg it was particularly breezy. Wally measured wind speeds of almost 40 miles an hour and a wind chill of -9 degrees centigrade, brrrr!!
My original intention had been to climb up to Calders and then descend almost straight away via Sickers Fell and Knott. However, once we reached the snow covered cairn marking the top of Calders we unanimously decided that it would be a shame, not to mention a bit rude, not to visit the top of The Calf which was an easy 15 minute walk to the north. I'm glad we made the detour as the views on this section were superb, the contrast between light and shade was at times breathtaking. It was also really good to see that some water was returning to the small tarn on the summit of The Calf after it had dried up the previous summer.
After our detour we retraced our steps to Calders to continue the original plan. After descending to Rowantree Grains we climbed a short way up Arant Haw before leaving the main path to head for Sickers Fell. At this point we were on the lee side of the fell and so took the opportunity to have our lunch out of the wind whilst bathing in the sunshine. It was also a good spot to enjoy the views across the Rawthey valley towards Baugh Fell and beyond Rise Fell to each of the Yorkshire Three Peaks all of which could be clearly seen.
After lunch it was then an easy stroll down to the cairn on Sickers Fell and then on to Knott which has what is easily one of the largest and most impressive cairns in the Howgill Fells. From Knott we dropped down to cross Little Ashbeck before following the intake wall around to then cross Ashbeck Gill. A bit further along we finally crossed the intake wall by a step stile for a final easy stroll across the fields back in to Sedbergh.
This was a superb outing, as Gary remarked during the walk, it was a privilege to be out in the hills on a day like this.