Howgills with Sir Chris Bonington

Bivvy spot

Bivvy spot first thing in the morning, with Andy Goldsworthy’s work of art behind us.

Report of a trip with LUHC to the Howgill Fells that took place on 27 May 2012.

As chancellor to Lancaster University, legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington occasionally joins us for a walk. We got in touch with him last term and he suggested a trip to the Howgills, as the only other time he’d been up there (apart from a winter ascent of Cautley Spout) was two years ago with the Hiking Club again, and the weather was awful!

It couldn’t have been more different this time around, and the forecast was so good that Lorna, Imogen, Darren and myself decided to bivvy at the top of Cautley Spout the night before. We picked a spot alongside Force Gill Beck, in a sheepfold that it turned out included a work of art by acclaimed artist Andy Gouldworthy, who from 1996-2003 took about in restoring 46 sheepfolds around Cumbria and further afield. It was a bit windy, but once wrapped up warm in my bivvy bag I had a fantastic night looking out at the stars overhead. It stayed surprisingly light all night long.

The morning after, we walked back down to The Cross Keys to meet the minibus and Chris. By then it was already shorts and t-shirts weather. We headed up the side of Cautley Spout and along Force Gill Beck to The Calf. From there, we took the large footpath down to Bowderdale and then back down to the minibus by the Cross Keys. The Cross Keys is one of the only temperance inns left in the UK, and the building dates back over 400 years. It has only been a temperance inn since 1902 however, after the then-landlord drowned trying to rescue a drunken customer who held fallen by the river banking. I was quite surprised to find the Ginger Beer had an alcoholic content of 0.5%!

Cautley Spout

Walking down beside Cautley Spout in the morning.

It was great chatting to Chris about all of his adventures and expeditions and I think he really enjoyed chatting to us about everything from politics to climbing. He has written about the day on his own blog, as well as a bit about how day with the Mountaineering Club the day before.

The Calf

Everyone on the summit of The Calf.