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Route No 92 - 20 August 2003
River Rawthey and Baugh Fell circuit - 16.5 km
Howgill Fells . . .

Map:OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells and Upper Eden Valley at 1:25000
Route Map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service


The Howgill Fells from the lower slopes of Baugh Fell
The Howgill Fells from the lower slopes of Baugh Fell

Waterfall on the River Rawthey from the footbridge ar Map ref SD 727967We made an early start this morning to drive up the A1 to Scotch Corner and across the A66 via Brough and Kirby Stephen to Rawthey Bridge where we arrived at about 9.45. There were a lot of dark shower clouds about and a few sunny breaks as well. There is a large gravel area at Rawthey Bridge (map ref. SD 712979) where you can park off the road. There are no public footpaths on Baugh (pronounced Bow) Fell except low down at the very edge of the fell. It is an area where you have to be able to read your map and use your compass - even the apparently simple task of leaving the summit to reach the west Tarn often requires a compass bearing to reach the tarn without wandering off course. Our plan was to follow the river Rawthey up Rawthey Gill to the trig point at Knoutberry Haw on the summit of Baugh Fell, then to return via West Baugh Fell Tarn and down the fell end back to Waterfall on the River RawtheyRawthey Bridge. It's 16.5km of rough country, rocky in places, very boggy in parts and some steep scrambles - five and a half to six hours of strenuous walking. Apart from the exercise the reward is fabulous views of wild country as far as you can see in every direction and the huge presence of Baugh Fell itself. Today the ominous feel of the fell was heightened by the looming black shower clouds contrasting with the shafts of sunlight through the breaks. We crossed the road and followed the track up the moor to map ref. SD 708974 where we turned left onto a bridleway which we followed for about 2km to map ref. SD 727967. Here the bridleway divides - one route turns left over a footbridge over the River Rawthey whilst the other continues to follow the Waterfall on the River Rawtheyriver up stream on the right hand bank. We continued to follow the river up stream. The bridleway ends at map ref. SD 734960, but a path on the ground continues to follow the river upstream. A path approaches the foot of each waterfall and there are many of them, some in quite deep gorges. It is possible to climb the rocks at the side of a few waterfalls but for most of them after viewing the falls it is necessary to return downstream for a distance until the sides of the gorge are possible to climb safely. In this way we made our way up stream to map ref. SD 746944. Here the river forks and we took the right hand fork up Rawthey Gill. We followed the rocky river up stream to map ref. SD 736924, to Gill Head. Here we followed the right hand fork of the river again to climb out onto the moor top plateau at map ref. SD 734923 from where we could see the trig point The summit of Baugh Fell from the West Baugh Fell Tarnon the summit at map ref. SD 731919 at Knoutberry Haw - 676m AOD about 500m away. We crossed the normally boggy moor to the trig point with no trouble after the long dry spell and sat down with our backs to the wall for a lunch break. The wall provided welcome shelter from the wind on this otherwise warm day. After lunch we stood up and could just see the West Baugh Fell Tarn at map ref. SD 729936 about 1.8km away. In view of the very dry conditions we headed straight for the tarn, but it is necessary to pick some intermediate land marks because to tarn falls out of view as you cross the wide hollow between the summit and the tarn, In wet weather it's safer to aim for the cairns over to the left and the swing round from the cairns to the tarn, in any event you need to be confidentLooking towards the Howgill Fells on the descent of Baugh Fell in the use of map and compass as low cloud can sweep in at almost any time. We made our way down the fell to Bluecaster at map ref. SD 712969 - a foothill above Rawthey Bridge. The whole route is across rough boggy moorland and you need to take care with your route ahead to ensure that you are not heading into a deep boggy area. We were quite lucky that the weather had been so dry this summer and the moor was much easier to cross than would normally be the case. From Bluecaster we dropped onto the bridleway we had used on the way out and retraced our steps to Rawthey Bridge car park. It had been a hard walk near the limit of my own abilities these days but well worth it for the experience of the wild scenery and the waterfall strewn course of the River Rawthey which I will probably not be able to walk again.

 

Looking down Wensleydale from  Baugh Fell west tarn with Penn Hill in the distance
Looking down Wensleydale from Baugh Fell west tarn with Penn Hill in the distance

Looking down the River Rawthey gorge towards the Howgill Fells
Looking down the River Rawthey gorge to the Howgill Fells

Rawthey Gill heading for the top of Baugh Fell
Rawthey Gill heading for the top of Baugh Fell

Waterfall on the River Rawthey
Waterfall on the River Rawthey

Waterfall on the River Rawthey
Waterfall on the River Rawthey

The Start of Rawthey Gill
The Start of Rawthey Gill

Erratic boulder in Rawthey Gill
Erratic boulder in Rawthey Gill

Looking over Sedburg towards Morecombe Bay from Baugh Fell
Looking over Sedburg towards Morecombe Bay from Baugh Fell