The Howgill mountain range is situated in the South East of Cumbria. This area is outside the Lake District National Park but has a beauty of its own. Firstly it is much quieter than the classic Lake District fells because everybody goes West at junction 37 on the M6. Secondly these huge ancient mountains have views to die for. On a good day you can see right over to the Lake District and beyond. There are a number of bridlepaths around the Howgills the highest point being The Calf at 2217ft. What's more is that 95% of this is rideable not something you can say for many mountain rides. The route described here has an amazing 5 mile 1460ft descent.
I have attached this trail to my Lake District Area even though it is strictly outside the Lake District National Park. It is however in Cumbria and the same region!
The trail starts on the north side of the Howgills and goes right round, in an clockwise direction, to the South at Sedbergh. It then climbs from here up to The Calf descending back to the car.
This is the best way to tackle the Howgills with the most cycling (least pushing!)and the big descent at the end!
1. Start near a small hamlet called Wath (OS NY68447 04969). Proceed on the minor road west for about 200 yards and take the right fork. The road then bears left and becomes a bridlepath. Carry on for about 0.7 miles and turn left at the minor road. Pass through Weasdale and continue for about 1 mile. The road bears left going towards a farm don't take it! At the corner go straight ahead, through the gate and over a small brook. Keep on this bridlepath for about 0.7 miles.
2. Join tarmac road and turn left and then right at junction at Coldbeck. After 0.3 miles turn right keep going to the junction and turn right (OS NY 72327 04019). Proceed for 0.3 miles where the road bears left turn right (OS NY 72192 03604). After about 200 yards turn left.
3. Proceed on a narrow tarmac road which climbs steeply for just under 2 miles. Look for the bridlepath off to the left at NY 71342 00574. Turn down here for fun!!!! Proceed for about 1.2 miles to Murthwaite. On arrival at the farm go through the gate and immediately right following the sign on the right to Narthwaite.
4. Drop down through the woods for a fun ride. Cross Wandale Beck and pick up a double track. Proceed for quarter of a mile to the farmhouse. Go through the farmyard making sure you bear left through the gate and down the track. Go through the next gate across the Brook, Backside Beck. Follow the trail which follows the right side of the River Rawthey.
5. Keep following this track and eventually joins a tarmac road. Follow this down until it joins the main road (A683) into Sedbergh. At the mini roundabout turn right and follow the road for 50 yds which bypasses the main street and turn left. There is a cafe in front of you. After about 100yds turn right and follow the road up for 1.2 miles. Turn right at NY 64157 92960 and carry on until the gate.
6. Turn left and then look for the track the right. Follow it up. This is a long push which yields views over the town as it curls to the right. The track now becomes rideable. Carry on and eventually you will see the trail of an out in front of you keep going! At a small sign turn right and avoid the hill on the left. At the top descend and then climb again up a steep section which will require a push. As you press to the top there is a cairn on the right. Ahead of you, you will see the trig point. This is The Calf. You can proceed there or take the trail on the right.
7. At the trig point carry on the level and past the small tarn on the right. Don't drop down to the left. Join the other track coming in from the right after about 300 yds. Keep going and the descent opens out in front of you. Enjoy!
8. At the bottom pass through the gates and join the road turning right. Follow the road down turning left and then right. Your car is in front of you!
Leave the M6 motorway at Junction 38 and head east on the A685. After 4.5 miles near a small hamlet called Wath turn left and loop back round under the road and turn left back on yourself. Park on the grass on the left, parallel to the road you have just been on (See map).
When to Bike
Year round is possible but the weather like we had is VERY unusual. Always take waterproofs, food, map, compass etc whatever the weather is like, when you leave the car! Provisions can be got in Sebergh before the major climb.