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Cautley Crag in the Howgill Fells
Cautley Crag in the Howgill Fells

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Route No 45 - 25 March 2002
Cautley Spout & The Calf circuit - 6 miles
Howgill Fells . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells and Upper Eden Valley. 1:25000


Cautley Crag. This morning my neighbour, Jim and I drove to the Howgill Fells between Kirkby Stephen and Sedburgh. It's one of my favourite walking areas but because of the foot & mouth disease we haven't been there for almost 18 months. We had arranged to meet another friend at the Cross Keys, an old temperance hotel, on the A683 about 4 miles north of Sedburgh. We set off at about 10.15am over the footbridge across the River Rawthey. It was a glorious day, clear blue sky and still cool enough for pleasant walking. We followed the footpath alongside the Cautley Holme Beck to the foot of the waterfall. The beck (it's called Red Gill Beck on the approach to the top of the falls) descends over 600 feet in about 200 yards in a series of rocky steps. We continued on the path towards the head of Bowderdale. When we reached Looking over the Rawthey valley with Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent in the distancethe col we stopped for a break before turning west to climb up the steep grassy hillside for about 400 yards to intercept the bridleway coming up out of Bowderdale towards the Calf. Once on the bridleway we followed it to the Calf. It's a strenuous climb of about 1700 feet from the Cross Keys to the Calf, but what a fantastic view when you get there. Out to the west is the shimmering expanse of Morecombe Bay with the Heysham nuclear power station in the distance. To the North West is the Lake District with most of the major peaks identifiable on the sky line starting with the Coniston range, then the Scafell range leading to Great Gable. To the North lie the North Pennines with Great Dunn Fell easiest to spot with its military radar installation on top and Little Dunn Fell to its left and the bulk of Cross Fell (highest point in the Pennines at 2930 feet) to its left. Nearer Cautley Crag with Bowderdale in the distanceto us to the east was huge mass of Baugh Fell and just north of it Wild Boar Fell, whilst to the south the distinctive summit of Ingleborough was visible and east of it the curving back of Whernside and east again the shape of Pen-y-ghent. What a panorama. We stood and gazed and did not want to leave. Eventually we continued along the ridge path south from the Calf for just over half a mile to Calders. Here we sat down for a break and to admire the view down the Rawthey valley before heading eastwards on the bridleway along side the wire fence for about 200 yards. Here we cut across the top of Great Dummacks to the southern corner of Cautley Crag. The long arc of the crags makes a spectacular scene. We followed a narrow path around the top of the crag heading north to Cautley Spout waterfall. We crossed the beck at the head of the falls and made our way down a steep path beside the falls. The last time I walked this route the path was quite treacherous with loose rocks and gravel but now there is a well constructed stone staircase that makes for a safe descent. The path itself blends into the hillside and is not at all intrusive. About halfway down there is a convenient headland next to the falls where we stopped for a last lingering look at the scene. Then back down the valley to the car at the Cross Keys. The route of about 6 miles & climb of 1700ft. had taken us almost 5 hours with some long stops to take in the scenery.

Red Gill Beck at the top of Cautley Spout

Above:- Red Gill Beck at the top of Cautley Spout

Right:- Part of Cautley Spout's 600ft. drop

Part of Cautley Spout's 600ft. drop