River Rawthey and Uldale Force


Perhaps I should say something about the meticulous planning which goes into my post-work, evening walks; indeed into all of my walks. Since it was almost two months ago, I can’t recall this in exact detail but it goes a little something like this:

Me: “Oh, none of the kids need ferrying around tomorrow do they, I could go for a walk after work.”

TBH: “You could.”

Since we will have been either already in bed at this point, or on the way there, I won’t have done anything about this nascent plan. The following morning, on my way out of the door, possibly even on time for once, I remembered the projected walk and hastily grabbed a few bits and pieces – a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, some shoes, my rucksack which hopefully would have my waterproofs in it, my camera, a water bottle, maybe a packet of nuts and a collection of maps. The maps are a constant – OL7, OL2, OL19 and OL41 – my way of keeping my options open, or, to put it another way, of putting off making a decision.

On this particular occasion, I still hadn’t made up my mind when work finished. I asked a colleague in the staffroom, who I know to be a keen walker herself:

“Where should I go for a walk this evening: Lakes, Dales, Howgills or Bowland?”


So it was that I found myself pulling into the the little car-park near Rawthey Bridge on the eastern side of the Howgills, with the intention of having a walk up to Cautley Spout, but when it dawned on me that the east facing slopes of the Howgills had already seen the last of the sun for the day, I decided to head the other way instead.

I took the old road (seen above), above the River Rawthey, across the slopes of Bluecaster and into Uldale.


I had the idea that I would follow the river all the way up onto Baugh Fell, which I’ve never climbed before. But my plans are always fluid – I’d also wondered whether it might be possible to divert into Whin Stone Gill and follow that up towards Swarth Fell.


These waterfalls put me off that plan however. That second fall could probably be scrambled, but it looked wet and vegetated and not the least bit inviting.

So: carry on up the Rawthey. This little fall….


…looks like it might be a bit off an impasse, but in fact there’s a well used path which goes around to the right here, just above the rocks on the edge of the photo.


Just above there is Uldale Force, which deserves to be better known than I suspect it is. It’s a fair sized waterfall, and the cliff curves around to either side for quite a way. I’m not sure that my photos really do it justice. I used to come this way up onto Wild Boar Fell quite often and I always wondered whether this was a collapsed cave.


Again, this can be circumvented on the right, although the ground is very steep, and if I had the kids with me I would go back first and then up, if that makes sense.

I followed the Rawthey a little further but the sky had clouded over and my enthusiasm was waning: perhaps a 10 mile round trip on Baugh Fell was a bit ambitious for an evening? Besides – Holland were playing Argentina in the semi-final. I climbed up to the path which would take me down past Uldale House and to the minor road which I don’t seem to have entirely squeezed into the map below.


I was home in time for the second half, despite dithering for a good 15 minutes on the way down, trying fruitlessly in the poor light to photograph a pair of grey wagtails.

River Rawthey and Uldale Force

9 thoughts on “River Rawthey and Uldale Force

  1. I watched the whole Holland/Argentina game and would far rather have been walking those slopes and falls. Beautiful. So much still to see. Isn’t life wonderful!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      “So much still to see. Isn’t life wonderful!”
      Cantankerous old curmudgeon though I am, I hope that’s pretty much the manifesto for my blog.
      Cheers Simon!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      A walk this way and to Wild Boar Fell is a great – there are no paths for much of it, so progress can be slow and the ground between the Rawthey and Swarth Fell (something Moss, Holme Moss?) is extremely wet. I used to come down via Sand Tarn and over the limestone area below that – Hen Cloud?
      No – I checked the map: Holmes Moss and Fell End Clouds. But the walk I did is also a good one.

  2. I won’t have enough time to visit this wonderful place on my next trip to Cumbria. fortunately I travel the Lakes in a different way thanks to your blog.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Thanks David. There’s so much of the Lakes to explore and this is a long way off the beaten track. Enjoy your next visit!

  3. I’ve definitely done part of this walk with you and some of your teacher friends many years back – just after we’d come back from the Ecrins I think. I remember it as fine walk by the waterfalls and this trip confirms it

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes – it was with Chris and Ruth, I remembered it when you reminded me. It’s a storming area – I need to go back again. When would be a good time do you think?

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