The Calf via Cautley Spout

  • The highest waterfall in England
  • Easy walking once the plateau is reached
  • Lonely and forgotten hills

In the late 1970s a very young Jonathan used to visit his brother who was at school at Sedbergh. All I remember about those trips was having a family ‘tea’ at the Cross Keys inn on the Sunday as we returned. Later I viewed the Howgills more from the M6 as I sped north to the Lakes but I was not attracted by what I saw, albeit from a distance. However time passed and I could ignore the area no longer. I have now climbed the Calf via Cautley Spout twice in quick succession it was so good that I wanted to explore further.

Cautley Spout is the largest waterfall in England (a few claim this title) with a fall of 650 foot. Walking up the valley the falls appear as a great gash in a wall of rock and made me ponder how I was going to get up. At the top of the Spout I crossed the stream and took the intermittent path which skirts the crags of Cautley. This is far and away the best route to the summit of the Calf – the direct route being tedious in the extreme once the top of the Spout is reached. The Calf itself is nothing special but the descent via Bowderdale is somewhat spooky. I am not sure why I find Bowderdale spooky but it is, the first time I was there darkness was starting to fall and as I really did not fancy an extended stay, I ran! These are lonely hills but there are compensations in this; the sense of freedom being one and the horses which greet you on the valley floor being another.

The Calf and Calders are 2 of the Dales 30 Mountains

Recommend: For those, like me, who are obsessed with ticking peaks Yarlside is a steep 700 foot haul from Bowderdale, for those who care less about the summits forget it!

Download GPX file

Calf via Cautley Spout map

All maps are copyright of Where2Walk © 2020

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL19 Howgill Fells & Upper Eden. Buy Map
Start Point: SD 698969. Park on the road near the Cross Keys (space available) and head for the little bridge over the river.
Height to Climb: 497 ms (1,630 feet)
Terrain: Fine up the re-built path up Cautley Spout but be sure to cross on the ridge above Cautley Crags for the best possible circuit (see picture). Trackless up Yarlside.
Eating & Drinking: I have eaten many a 'high tea' at the isolated Cross Keys pub and remember it in different days. Now it is a National Trust Temperence Inn with excellent food but clearly no beer (except Mon/Tue when closed).
Similar Walks Nearby: The Lonely Howgills
Massive Baugh Fell
Northern Howgills Explorer
Places to Stay:


Summerhill GH, Sedbergh