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back to Book Reviews

Howgills and Limestone Trail
by David and Heather Pitt

ISBN 978-0-7112-3444-4
Published by Frances Lincoln

The Howgills and Limestone Trail is a new 76-mile long-distance walk from Kirkby Stephen to Settle, devised by David and Heather Pitt. The guidebook of this walk is a worthy sequel to A Pennine Journey (edited by David Pitt) and again features the combined talents of mapmaker, Ron Scholes, and landscape artist, Colin Bywater.

Using two of Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides as their inspiration, Walks on the Howgill Fells and Walks in Limestone Country, David and Heather have created a walk through some of the most delightful terrain in northern England.

The walk is divided into seven day-stages and each chapter follows a similar pattern. An overview of the day’s stage, setting the walk in its historical and geographical context, precedes a comprehensive route description with a wealth of navigational detail, supplemented by Ron Scholes’ superb route maps. And to complete the picture, so to speak, this attractive book is endowed with forty sketches from the pen of Colin Bywater, depicting major landmarks along the way. It is these features that make the book both appealing to the hardy longdistance walker as well as the armchair rambler.

One fascinating historical thread that runs through the book is the ebb and flow of the fortunes of the railway in this part of England. The evidence of the railway mania that gripped the country can be seen in the surviving fabric in the remotest of spots on this walk. Perhaps the most spectacular are the viaducts that span the river valleys. A number of viaducts on the old LNWR Ingleton–Tebay railway can be viewed at close quarters. Ron Scholes has drawn a special map showing different railways that once criss-crossed the area.

The beauty of the walk is that for those who might consider 76 miles in 7days with nearly 15,000 feet of ascent a challenge too far, it can be broken down into much shorter day stages to suit personal taste.

The trail includes a traverse of The Calf, the highest point on the Howgills after a walk along the length of remote Bowderdale and a climb alongside Cautley Spout, the highest waterfall in England, falling 650 feet. From Sedbergh, there is a hike over little-known Middleton Fell to its highest point, another Calf. Passing through Barbon, the walk enters limestone country and meanders into the dry valley of Ease Gill before reaching Ingleton with its enchanting Waterfalls Walk. Ingleborough and Penyghent are both climbed on the final stage of the walk into Settle. For those hardy walkers who would like to make it a circular walk, a return along the Pennine Journey route from Settle to Kirkby Stephen will extend the round to 134 miles.

Yes, it’s a great walk and the guidebook is an invaluable aid in enhancing the walker’s experience and revealing the secrets of this superlative landscape.

Derek Cockell – Member No. 13