Riding The Calf

The Howgills - forgotten hills of northern England - mid way between the two, they remain distinctly separate from the Cumbrian fells and the Yorkshire Dales. As such, they still retain a sweeping solitude, reminiscent in places of the Cairngorms, all the more surprising giving the proximity of the M6. In marked contrast, an ancient roman road traverses the rolling western flank, skirting the base of The Howgills as they drop to meet The Lune.
A tributary, Chapel Beck rushes toward the valley hereabouts...
...and is crossed after a couple of kilometres on good bridleway - it marks the start of the climb, from 200m to 676m and the summit of The Calf.
It is a steep climb and I pushed the bulk of it...
...looking across at a possible line of descent.
Just beneath the cloud base and on more level ground I rode up to White Fell Head and on, over The Calf.
Approaching the summit the clouds thinned, the wind raw, and in the distance Morecambe Bay shimmered beneath a low autumn sun.
I had originally intended to follow the main ridge south along Rowan Tree Grains, past Winder and down to Sedbergh. A late start and the promise of rain decided the matter - I would descend the ridge that had looked so promising on the way up.
Emerging from the clag I traversed the flank of Bram Rigg Top - for a short distance here the track is narrow and the drop precipitous, Calf Beck hundreds of metres below.
Momentarily out of the wind, I paused awhile, watching a buzzard circling less than 50ft above. As the first drops of rain fell, I dropped into the descent, a lethal combination of short, sheep cropped grass and water - several corners were rounded with any semblance of control long forgotten but I made the ford of Bram Rigg Beck none the worse for wear, if a good deal wetter.
Looking back at the descent, before the stony and more secure track leads on, to emerge just south of Chapel Beck on the old Roman road. What a route that will be for dry summer evening.

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