#GetOutside Champion James Forrest was treated to a mini-break at the stunning Brownber Hall, a boutique hotel on the edge of the Howgills. Think a modern take on the quintessential British country home, with cosy and chic rooms, an in-house restaurant serving stone-baked sourdough pizzas, and luxurious, hipster-inspired communal areas.
Or, in other words, way better than James’ usual accommodation – a one-man tent. Here he outlines his top 5 micro-adventure walks you can experience on the doorstep of Brownber Hall.
1. Climb The Calf, the highest point of the Howgill Fells
Lost in a no-man’s land between the Lakes and the Dales, part of Cumbria but located within the expanded Yorkshire Dales National Park, the grassy, domed hills of the Howgills are less frequented than their more famous neighbours in Lakeland. And that means a day in the Howgills can offer a welcome dose of silence and solitude.
A classic route starts in Sedbergh and climbs over gentle, easy slopes via Winder, Arant Haw and Calders to reach the summit of The Calf, the highest point of the Howgills at 676m - and, if you’re lucky, you might just have them all to yourself. Here's The Calf route I took.
2. Find peace and tranquillity in Potts Valley
Straight from the doorstep of Brownber Hall, this is a delightful short ramble – an easy 10km or so - exploring the surrounding limestone country.
A brief section on the Dales High Way, a long-distance walking trail which passes very close to Brownber Hall, is followed by an amble past charming barns and rickety dry stone walls to Fell Head. Here you turn right through pastures and enter Potts Valley, a gorgeous little valley with a tumbling stream and distinctive rocky tors. It’s so quiet and peaceful, it feels as if you’re going back in time to explore a forgotten valley. Here's the route I took in Potts Valley.
The return via Little Ewe Fell and Great Ewe Fell, which are suitably dotted with sheep, is similarly pleasant – but by now you’ll mostly be thinking about a pot of tea and some homemade cake on the gorgeous courtyard of Brownber Hall.
3. Enjoy a relaxing stroll to Smardale Viaduct
This another unmissable, easy stroll you can start from Brownber Hall; the perfect option after you’ve tucked into the homemade granola and fry-up for breakfast, or for a pre-dinner afternoon amble to work up an appetite for the upcoming antipasti and pizza.
Head east for two miles along a disused railway line until you reach the spectacular Smardale viaduct. At 90ft high with 14 stone arches, it is a dramatic structure – and, dating back to 1861, it’s not only a historical remnant of the golden era of the railways, but it’s also now part of national nature reserve managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
This is the route I took to Smardale Viaduct.
4. Gaze over England’s highest waterfall
With a drop totalling over 600ft, Cautley Spout is considered to be England’s highest waterfall.
I once visited in January. The falls were held in winter’s grip; an intricate artwork of blue-white icicles and frozen cascades, like a scene out of Narnia. It was breathtaking.
But, even during spring and summer, the waterfall is a stunning spectacle and well worth a visit. Park up in a layby off the A638 to the north-east of Sedbergh and it’s a simple walk on a good track to the base of the dramatic falls.
Here's the route I took which passes Cautley Spout.
5. Climb England’s highest mountain outside of the Lake District
Ok, so it’s not part of the Howgills, I know. It’s part of the North Pennines AONB, but Cross Fell is still within touching distance of Brownber Hall – and it’s too good an adventure to miss out on.
Cross Fell is the highest mountain in England outside of the Lake District. At 2,930ft, it is the giant of the North Pennines, located east of Penrith. If you manage to avoid the fierce winds, hordes of Pennine Way thru-hikers and all-encompassing hill fog, Cross Fell offers easy, enjoyable hiking with expansive views.
For the best day out, start in the hamlet of Kirkland, climb via High Cap and return via Wildboar Scar. Check out the route I took in Cross Fell here.
But Cross Fell’s best feature has to be Greg’s Hut, a former miners’ house turned rustic mountain bothy. Why not pack a sleeping bag and stay the night?
Start your own adventure in the Yorkshire Dales, book yourself in at Brownber Hall as a base for scenic walks, romantic breaks, outdoor adventures and picturesque views.
James Forrest's debut book is out now!