The Howgills are a wonderful combination of accessible hills that are not too busy and offering some great hillwalking. Most people will recognise them as the hills you pass though just before Tebay services travelling north up the M6 – nice rounded, inviting hills that say lets explore. The walk in January started in the lovely town of Sedbergh which has some great cafes and lots of bookshops (it calls itself England’s book town) – see www.sedbergh.org.uk
The walk was up to the Calf, the highest point of the Howgills at a reasonable 676m (2218ft) and it is a steady , easily followed path up the side of Settlebeck Gill then joining a Bridleway to the top of Calders then across to the Calf. However as the mist persistently stayed at around 500m the views were non-existent at the top! The summit of the Calf used to be the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park but the rest of the Howgills north of there have now been brought into the park (sorry Cumbria) so it was a pleasure to step briefly into the new bit. To make up for the lack of views the way back was via Cautley Spout, Englands highest waterfall at 198m/650ft or to be exact the highest broken cascade waterfall above ground (for the pedantic one of its cascades drops 78m, the highest cascade drop in England above ground – the highest unbroken above ground drop is Hadraw force near Hawes at 30m and the below ground record is Gaping Ghyll which is 98m – but they’re all in the Yorkshire Dales so that’s ok!). If you just want to see the waterfall there is a parking just past the Cross Keys pub on the A683, about 3 miles North of Sedbergh. From there its is a pleasant 20min stroll to the base of the falls.