Winder, Sedbergh: The Fell
Archive: February 2016, by Mary Welsh
Start/Finish: Lofthouse hill car park, Sedbergh (GR: SD657919)
Maps: OS 1:25,000 Explorer OL19, Howgill Fells and Upper Eden Valley; OS 1:50,000 Landranger 97, Kendal, and 98, Wensleydale; Harvey Maps’ 1:25,000 Superwalker, Howgill Fells
Distance: 4.6 miles/7.4 km
Time: 3 hours
Terrain: fine wide grassy swathes, meadow paths, some quiet road walking
Height Gain: 1,350 ft/415 m
Refreshments and Facilities: spoilt for choice in Sedbergh
Winder stands proudly above Sedbergh, wonderful grassy paths leading unerringly to the summit’s white-painted trig point. The return is across Winder’s breast, on an even more delectable track. An extension to this walk descends through pastures to Sedbergh’s motte and bailey, built by the Normans on the flat top of a huge grassy mound.
If you talk to Sedbergh folk they speak about Winder (1,552ft/473m) as if it were in their own backyard, and of course it does overlook most of their homes. They delight in telling you the best route and how it is impossible to get lost.
1 Turn right out of the car park and cross the road coming in on your right. Continue up to cross the main street. Walk left and almost immediately take a narrow ginnel between pleasant houses. Cross a quiet road and head up another ginnel. Turn left at the end and walk on to join Howgill Lane. Bear right and ascend for 700 yards to take a reinforced track on the right, signed “Permissive Path to The Fell”, “The Fell” being the name given to Winder by locals. The walled lane leads to Lockbank Farm. Pass through the farmyard to the fell gate.
2 Beyond, stroll left beside the fell wall, ignoring a steep path climbing straight up the grassy fell. Go on parallel with, but a distance away from, the wall, choosing the main grassy track that rises a little, aiming towards the tops of the trees in Nursery Wood. Step across several tiny streams and follow the lovely, wide grassy way through bracken, climbing steadily uphill. It winds gently half-right as it curves up towards what looks as if it might be the summit. But as you reach the brow, with vast rolling slopes about you, you realise that the summit’s gleaming trig point is ahead, up a steeper, distinct path.
3 Pause to enjoy the panorama of the Lune valley, the Lakeland fells and glistening Morecambe Bay, then cross to the small cairn and look into the green and inviting heart of the Howgills. Below and beyond Sedbergh lie the misty pleasant alleys of Garsdale and Dentdale. Take a narrower path, right, descending through grass to join another, wide path coming in on your left. Go on down towards the town. This glorious way brings you back to the fell gate at Lockbank Farm.
4 Pass through and bear left after a few steps to follow a path, signed for walkers only, roughly parallel with the fell wall on your left. Cross several pastures, using one step stile in a wall and several gates. Cross a tiny stream then move slightly right to locate two wooden stiles next to each other. Beyond, walk beside the wall on your left and follow it as it joins a good track and wind right with it. Continue to a large signpost.
5 Here, turn acute-left to walk back on yourself towards two fine houses; one large, one small. Keep in front of the small house, with a barn to your left, to climb solid steps, which are easily missed. Turn right at the top and continue to a lane. Turn right until you can take a well-labelled gate, left, into a pasture. Go ahead to a similar gate on to a path at the foot of a huge conical steep sided hill. Wind round, right, to climb a very narrow path to the top. Appreciate the view over the surrounding area; the reason it was constructed by the Normans. This great mound might have given its name to Sedbergh: in Old Norse “Sethberg” means flat-topped hill.
6 Return through the two gates to the lane and bear left to join the main road. Cross and walk right, until you can turn left to rejoin your vehicle.