Sour Howes and Sallows

Date: 1 January 2019                         Weather: 5’C, sunny, light wind

Height gain: 1,453ft                           Distance: 6.5 miles

Time taken: 4 hours 10 minutes     Wainwright count:  57 & 58 of 214

Route:  From Ullthwaite Bridge up to Sour Howes and across to Sallows descending to re-join the ascent path at the Kentmere footpath and back down to the car.

If asked what I wanted for New Year’s Day my first answer was blue skies, light winds and a good hillwalk and, in between some wet and soggy weather on the days either side, that is (miraculously) exactly what I got.  The Lakes are heaving at this time of year and any walk was likely to be busy on such a nice day so we decided to do these two – they’re probably not well known and don’t have inviting names which might put off some visitors.

We knew that parking at Kentmere church was limited but we didn’t set off early as we enjoyed our New Year breakfast.  We made the half hour journey to Kentmere and sure enough the few spaces available were all full.  We thought we had no choice but to drive all the way round to Troutbeck to do the route from the other side.  S wasn’t convinced about this strategy and when we saw a good and empty parking area at Ullthwaite Bridge we parked up to consult the map.  He decided that we could do the walk from right where we were so we booted up and off we went, perhaps with a bit of trepidation about getting lost.

The route through Meadowplatts plantation and Kentmere Park was beautiful although I didn’t take any photo’s – here’s one from a later walk in November:


The route seems to be popular with cyclists – quite a few come past us but we don’t see many other walkers.  We cross the River Kent several times on stepping stones and at the wall close to the path off to Kentmere we turn left and head onto the grassy, bumpy hillside towards Capple How.

S is heading for the wall to our left but I think I can see a more direct line of ascent with a hole in the wall straight ahead of us.  We reach the wall and find no way to get over it so we track right along it to try and find what turns out to be my mythical opening.  Eventually we reach a gate and once through it head left again in the general direction of Sour Howes.  We feel a bit lost as we plough upwards on the pathless hillside and eventually reach a wall and a line of trees – we should only be about 150ft from the summit but still can’t see any paths.

We then spot a couple coming down towards us and watch as they squeeze through a hole in the fence – this gives us confidence that we’re back on the right route.  We squeeze ourselves through the same hole and struggle up an almost vertical 100ft of hillside.  We reach the top of the very steep bit but of course this isn’t the top – we still have a few hundred metres to cover but over much flatter ground now.

Finally we reach the top and the views are beautiful – here looking north towards the Kentmere fells:


The views down to Windermere also look good but don’t photograph so well pointing directly into the sun:


Lovely views southwest towards Whetherlam and Consiton Old Man:


We find a spot just below the summit looking down over Windermere for our lunch – no choice but homemade sandwiches on New Year’s Day.  We sit a while before turning northeast and finding the path towards Sallows.  The walk across is a delight with great views all around us:


You can just make out the tops of Great Gable and the Scafells in the distance here:


We make a turn at a fence and are on the final approach to the top of Sallows:


We reach the summit and its lovely views down towards Kentmere:


We soak up the views and take a few photos but don’t hang around too long before bounding down towards Kentmere.  We know we have to turn right at some point to re-join our ascent route from earlier but there are no clear paths and we can’t agree when to make the turn.  S wants to turn quite early but it looks like an abseil to me, I want to pass some crags first.  We agree to disagree and both have relatively easy descents down the bouncy hillside and meet again below Long Crag.

From here the gradient becomes less steep and we can see the path we’re aiming for below us so we make quick progress.  We re-join our ascent path and enjoy the return journey as the sun starts to sink:


I couldn’t have asked for a better walk to start the year – glorious weather, not too crowded, two lovely little mountains and close to home as well.  We’ve also accidentally discovered a very nice route that we’ll use again and again in the following months.

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