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Howgill Fells & Westmorland Walks

Fell Head via Black Force

Date: 30th October 2010
Distance: 7.8 miles
Ascent: 2177 feet
Time: 4 hours 55 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD629980

Walk Summary:
An exciting if sometimes tricky walk to the top of Fell Head via Black Force and Linghaw.

Route Summary: Fairmile Gate - Fairmile Road - Carlin Gill - Black Force - Linghaw - Fell Head - Brown Moor - Castley Knotts - Four Lanes End - Howgill Lane - Fairmile Gate

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The River Lune from Fairmile Road
Rainbow in front of Dillicar Knott
Blease Fell and Fairmile Road
Looking back down Fairmile Road towards Linghaw
Carlin Gill
Unless the beck is virtually dry do not (as I did) go in here
Black Force
Black Force
Looking down from above Black Force
Looking back down to Carlin Gill
The Lune Valley from Linghaw
Blease Fell and Hare Shaw
Looking back down to Linghaw
On the summit of Fell Head
The cairn on Fell Head End looking north west
Looking down to Long Rigg Gill
Fell Head from Brown Moor
The top of Brown Moor looking to Bush Howe and White Fell
The top of Castley Knotts looking to Bram Rigg and Calders
Fell Head and Fairmile Beck

Walk Detail: After a lovely drive in the early morning sunshine I was a bit put out to arrive at Fairmile Gate to find it raining. As it happened though the rain did not last long and I was treated to some lovely rainbow filled views of the Lune Valley.

After a nice amble to Carlingill Bridge I left the road to follow Carlin Gill east into the fells. The path I took was no more than a thin trod on the south side of the beck and was quite slippery after the recent rain.

After a mile the beck is pressed in by steep rocky slopes and it became obvious that I could continue no further on the south bank so consulting Wainwright's 'Walks on the Howgill Fells' I crossed over the beck and headed into a small ravine to try and find a dryish way of scrambing along the streambed.

This proved to be a very bad idea - a fact highlighted by the remains of a sheep which had clearly fallen into the ravine and died. Stubbornly I tried to find a way forward but eventually came to a halt faced with the option of retracing my steps or climbing up out of the ravine. I chose the latter and probably used up one of my nine lives in the process so precarious a position did I find myself in.

It was with some surprise, mixed with relief and chagrin, that having risked my good health clambering out of the ravine I found a perfectly nice path contouring about 10 metres above the stream bed. Thankfully I was able to follow this path the rest of the short way to Black Force.

Black Force is one of the finest natural features in the Howgills while at the same time being very un-Howgill like in its rocky nature. Having soaked in the view the next stage involved a steep climb on grass on the eastern side of the waterfall, near the top the slope taking the shape of an arete.

The next ssection was thankfully free of difficulties and I was able to enjoy fantastic views back down into Carlin Gill as I contoured around the steep grassy slopes heading for Linghaw. Upon reaching the latter I had now visited all the Deweys in the Howgill Fells.

At this point the top of Fell Head, the highest point of the walk, was just inside the cloud level but by the time I reached the summit cairn (substantial by Howgill standards) the cloud was just beginning to blow clear of the upper slopes.

After eating my lunch at the top I began the steep descent off Fell Head End in the direction of Brown Moor encountering on my way some substantial patches of heather - not a plant one normally associates with the Howgills. By this time the cloud had completely broken up and as I descended over Brown Moor and Castley Knotts I was able to enjoy fantastic views of the western aspect of the Howgills.

By the time I got back to the car my knees and leg muscles could tell they had been given a good work out. The scenery I'd encountered had been fantastic and my adventures in Carlin Gill had certainly got the adrenaline pumping. I would say though that if I was going to head down Carlin Gill again I would make sure it was after a period of drier weather!

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