Sunday, 4 November 2012

Carling Gill

Carling Gill

A previously aborted walk up Carling Gill, in the west Howgill Fells, some five years ago, meant that a return would be made at some point. The added bonus of climbing Fell Head, a target Yorkshire 600 metre peak, made the trek even more inviting.  A bright, crisp and frosty morning was perfect for the occasion. 

The path up the gill from Carlingill Bridge was obvious at first, though the frost had frozen the tops of the wet patches and numerous puddles making progress treacherous. The beck was crossed just before Weasel Gill entered from the left and the path stayed on this side of Carling Gill for much of the way. There was a constant sound of water but not much else all the way up this quiet and not very well-known part of the Howgills. Some wild fell ponies watched my progress towards the impressive Black Force gouged out of the opposite hillside.
Black Force

From here on the gill narrowed and I had to criss-cross over it to find the best way up. After heavy rain this could be tricky I felt, but today the going was good. Before long I reached the appropriately named Water Slide and then The Spout, where the beck tumbled down a sharp drop of rock before descending the way I had come.

The Spout
It was not obvious where the path went here but having read other accounts I knew it was on the left of The Spout, a short scramble and climb. Duly achieved, with superb views above The Spout, I continued until I reached the open space of Blakethwaite Bottom. It was quite a contrast from the confined space of the gill.

Up to this point I had seen only two other walkers in the distance but now there were fell runners in all directions! They must have been involved in a competition or were training for one. I aimed for the col between Docker Knott and Over Sale traversing the hillside diagonally from Blakethwaite Bottom. At the top a good and obvious path took me all the way to Fell Head, climbing Wind Scarth in the process. The views all round were excellent with The Calf obvious in one direction and The Lakes in another.

Fell Head cairn
After a brief stop at the cairn on Fell Head, I moved on down to a more sheltered spot where I had a welcome coffee and lunch. The wind was cold but here in sun and out of the worst of the wind, it was pleasant with a panorama of the Lune valley to my left and the Lakeland fells to my right. The motorway and train line snaked through the landscape below me but I was alone, even the fell runners were not on this part of the fell!

M6 corridor from Linghaw
My route back was clear to see, straight down an obvious track over Linghaw and Gibbet Hill to the car which I could see glistening in the distance. The descent was steep in places but the views outstanding in the sunshine. I passed more fell ponies and sheep before reaching the minor Fairmile Road and returned to the car.

Carlingill Bridge
Although I had only covered 5.3 miles, I had climbed 2000 feet and finally conquered Carling Gill!

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