Start point: From Hallbankgate on the A689, branch off at the Belted Will following Crossgates Road via Park Terrace to reach the road-end car park beyond Clesketts, NY 589 585.
The mountain walk leaves the small car park and embarks south via the cattle grid/kissing gate and follows the open track by Tortie Cottage.
The track ventures up to the old colliery terrace of Howgill, whereupon turn sharp left, via the gate. The obvious path ahead leads down to Tindale Tarn via Stagsike, the Geltsdale RSPB Reserve office (perversely most of the reserve is not in Geltsdale!).
Branch off this path at once, right signed ‘Bruthwaite Viewpoint’. The path, formerly a track created to support grouse management and shooting parties, climbs to a bulldozed shelf from where it dwindles to a grass path, passing the Bruthwaite Viewpoint signboard. A good moment
to pause and look back over your line of approach. The path wanders on to a fence stile and hurdle-gate. From here one has options. The primary route sticks resolutely to the path/part quad-track venturing up to the peaty headwaters of Howgill Beck.
However, an off-the-beaten track option can be considered which climbs directly from the stile heading slightly north of east by the odd pockmarked quartzite out
crop. There is no path and the going is quite tough over tussocky moor. Pass the odd remnant corrugated iron shooting butt to reach the impressive tumulus marking the summit of Tindale Fell 547m/1795ft.
Stride south on a faint path crossing the line of an old dyke, which actually straddles the fell. Veer right to reach the obvious cluster of stones, part fashioned into a defunct shooting butt. Keep along the diminishing edge to meet up with the main route (quad path) trending left past a shooting butt. Cross peaty ground passing a stake to gently rise to meet a fence at an angle. Some 250m down the fence-line see a large broken sheepfold and a currick formed into a throne. Follow the fence uphill to reach the stile and the summit tumulus of Cold Fell 621m/2037ft.
Head west with the fence close right upon a narrow trod in the heather and bilberry. At the fence junction be sure not to be lured left – for the fence leads over Tarnmonath Fell. Cross this fence tight at the junction and keep north-west. A quad track assisting strides until a shoulder gives an abrupt heathery step down, thereafter stride on a little distance from the fence to reach the brink overlooking Geltsdale. A small cairn stands to the left.Backtrack to pass the smaller cairn, descend the bank avoiding the bracken to reach the tramway.
Turn right and duly pass through the gate at the foot of the fence off Brown Fell, followed whilst on the moorland section above. The Gairs Colliery Tramway gives easy walking. The tramway slips through one cutting en route to a kissing-gate by a shed occupied by donkeys. Continue to a gate into the environs of Howgill terrace, passing quietly through to reconnect with the approach track via Tortie to complete your tour for tea!
Words and middle pictures © Mark Richards