Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Fountains Fell

The potential to tick three Yorkshire Dales Nuttalls in a relatively short walk and its proximity to home was the reason I chose this walk because I only had a limited amount of time to commit.  My variation of Naismith’s Rule said it should have taken 3¾ hours, but maps don’t take into account the conditions underfoot and just over 5 hours later, I was rushing home.

I parked near Blishmire House and followed the Pennine Way onto the summit plateau of Fountains Fell.  The snow patches were mostly avoidable and those that weren’t had been fortuitously stepped out by a couple walking ahead of me.  The last rise was banked out with snow and walking to the cairns required some cautious route-finding.  Despite this I still stepped knee-deep into a bog, the water overflowing the top of my gaiter and leaving me with a wet and cold right foot for the rest of the walk.

Crossing the wall was easy because of the banked snow and started a descent towards Darnbrook Fell.  Instead of following the wall, I took a beeline towards the summit but this mistake became obvious in just a couple of hundred yards.  The soft heather was ankle-deep, the spring snow was calf-deep and the bogs had the potential to be deeper still!  Progress was slow.

The trig pillar came into sight and similar to other moorland pillars, it exhibited an isolation found on these flat peaty plateaus, exaggerated by it being mounted on a deep stone base which was clearly above the ground, probably the result of years of erosion.

Darnbrook Fell summit cairn & trig point

I kept close to the wall on the return towards Fountains Fell but progress wasn’t much quicker as the terrain was not ideal.  Walking became a little easier from the Pennine Way towards the broad ridge, passing to the north of Fountains Fell Tarn.  The ridge itself had the most pleasurable ground of the day and I was soon at the south top of Fountains Fell where a small cairn marked the true highpoint.

Fountains Fell Tarn

Pen-y-ghent & Fountains Fell from the south top

The walk along the broad ridge to Fountains Fell was an enjoyably easy stroll, particularly after the heather and bog that had characterised Darnbrook Fell.  The summit cairn was obviously marked by a large cairn and the view ahead to Pen-y-ghent was the best of the day.

Fountains Fell summit

I can’t find anything to commend Darnbrook Fell with all of its bog-trotting and heather-bashing, but the ridge between the two summits of Fountains Fell would be well-worth seeking out, particularly on a sunny summer’s day.