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Travelling north towards Shap along the Lune Valley, you can't but help notice the attractive group of hills to the east. These are the Howgills, situated between the Lake District and the Dales (but directly linked to neither), a distinct range within their own right. For mountain biking they are absolutely ideal. Reasonably steep, their flanks provide ideal descents, whilst the ridges provide easy riding. The Calf is the highest peak in the group and can be reached in one steep ascent from Howgill Lane via Birkhaw and Bram Rigg. Gaining height by this route allows a long descent back to Sedbergh over Bram Rigg Top, Calders, Arrant Haw and Winder. This route is really only suitable for experienced mountain bikers but those who tackle it will experience one of the best mountain biking descents in Britain.
3 - 5 hours
1. From the centre of Sedbergh follow Howgill Lane for 2.4km to a junction. Turn right and continue along Howgill Lane for 1.6km to a crossroads.
2. Turn right onto a farm track (bridleway) and follow it to the farm at Birkhaw. Continue straight through the farm and follow the track as it climbs east then northeast to a ford at Eller Mire Beck. Cross the ford and continue along the track as it contours first north then east and then makes a short descent to a ford at Bram Rigg Beck.
3. Up to this point the going has been easy with enjoyable riding, but this is where the work starts. From the other side of the beck the steep uniform ridge of Bram Rigg extends to the east and must be climbed to reach Bram Rigg Top. The height gain up the ridge is nearly 450m and is an unremitting slog which only eases off near the top.
4. From Bram Rigg Top The Calf is a short distance to the north across a low col. If you want to visit it you will have to leave your bike at Bram Rigg Top as there is no bridleway between the summits.
5. Stretching away to the south from Bram Rigg Top is a long ridge which takes in the rest of the major Howgills summits with a minimal loss of height between tops. The Route follows this ridge first over Calders which is connected to Bram Rigg Top by a low col. From Calders follow the fence west then south and start the first part of the descent.
6. The ridge levels and heads southwest across Arrant Haw then steepens to give a fantastic 3.2km run down past Winder on the north side and then down to Howgill Lane. Turn left onto Howgill Lane and follow it back to Sedbergh.