Sunday 2nd October 2011
Fox’s Pulpit & Crook Of Lune Bridge From Sedbergh – approx 10.00 miles
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL19 – Howgill Fells & Upper Eden Valley
Sedbergh – Howgill Lane – New House – Bramaskew – Dales Way (N) – Hole House – Crook Of Lune Bridge – Davy Bank – Hilltop Heights – Fox’s Pulpit – New Field – Lincoln’s Inn Bridge – St Gregory Church – Underwinder – Howgill Lane - Sedbergh
Sedbergh: Pubs, Shops, Cafés, Accommodation, Transport
Overcast all day, with drizzle and rain.
IT’S OFFICIAL! Yesterday was the hottest October day on record, with temperatures reaching as high as 29.9°C down in the South East! So here in the North West, with a wonderful forecast promised for today for the whole country, we pulled back the curtains this morning to reveal blazing sunshi ……
Errr ……. No, actually. Beyond the curtains we were met with a murky morning, thick with mist and drizzle sweeping slowly across the dale. Yesterday may well have felt like high summer, but today was definitely October. Oh well – onwards and upwards, as they say.
Due to an amazingly poor piece of planning on my part – of which the less said, the better – we needed to partake of a little emergency clothes shopping. So, breakfast eaten, we drove over to Kendal thinking we could hit the shops while the weather cleared.
The first part of the plan worked a treat, and a couple of hours later we were parked up in Sedbergh, new clothes in the boot, and boots on ready to go. The second part of the plan was less successful, though – despite what we were promised, it was still raining. Weather forecasting, eh? Little more than divination and soothsaying but with lower accuracy!
Still, having travelled so far for the weekend, we were not going to be put off by a bit of rain. Instead we opted for familiar paths – with no mapwork required making for easier navigation in the wet – and with waterproofs donned we set off along Howgill Lane, skirting the lower flanks of Winder to our right.
After about a mile and a half, we left the lane for the field path towards Bramaskew where we joined the Dales Way. Turning northwards, we passed through Hole House and onwards to meet the riverside. There the rain relented slightly so we took the opportunity to stop for lunch, huddling under a tree to eat our soup.
Moving on, we traced the riverbank for a further mile or so to reach Crook Of Lune Bridge. Here, road, river and rail converge at this pinch point between the hills, with Lowgill Viaduct and the M6 mere yards away.
But still the fells dominate, and we began our climb out of the valley towards the narrow lane that runs the length of Firbank, pausing periodically to catch our breath and to evade a sizeable bull parked slap-bang across the path and giving us the evil eye.
By the time we reached the lane the rain had largely relented. Only the merest hint of drizzle hung in the air as we trundled past Fox’s Pulpit, although low cloud remained to stifle the views. Despite everything, the day remained quite warm – even up on the fell – providing a test of breathability for our waterproofs. Eventually we ditched them in favour of shirtsleeves, this being the better way of staying dry.
From the tiny group of houses marked as New Field on the map, we took the field path towards Bridge End that descends steeply South East through Hawkrigg Wood and crosses a minor road before reaching the main A684. The road is busy, and care is required especially when crossing Lincoln’s Inn Bridge. Soon, though, the tiny church of St. Gregory in Lunedale is reached – notable for it’s unusual stained glass.
Our next objective was Underwinder – another small agglomeration of properties, this time clustered around a cobbled courtyard. Here the path actually passes directly through one of the gardens, slightly odd but all perfectly legal. By now the rain had returned in earnest, and the final steady pull up to Howgill Lane once again tested jacket breathability to the full. Then all that remained was the gentle walk along the lane into Sedbergh.
We have done this walk – or variations on it – many times before, and always find it a good standby. The mix of farmland, riverside and fell provides plenty of variety, and, even on a grotty day, the views along the Lune Valley and over to the Howgills are sure to be inspiring. And it fits nicely into a good half day – just in case you need to do a bit of emergency shopping, too!