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Monday, 29 March 2010

Fountains and Darnbrook Fells

penyghent from the patch of snow

Since I was in the area for John Manning’s exposition of his holiday snaps in Stainforth (see previous post) I thought I may as well do another Yorkshire dales 2000 foot tops ramble and this one looked specially handy and, what’s more, easy.

Fountains Fell has another couple of possible routes which are quite a bit longer than this, so I may well revisit the place in summer. This walk is a quick bag, to be honest, and shouldn’t take the erstwhile Dalesbagger more than a few hours.

on the way back from the south top

So after a late start during which I discovered that it was later than I thought, due to some idiot messing with the clocks – I turned up on the verge at the bottom of Fountains Fell. Some readers may well consider that I’ve been on the verge for some time. They may be right.

Today, though, I was dogless, companionless and, frankly, friendless as I trudged my weary way over the bleak, wind-blasted heaths of the tussocky Pennines. The wind howled mtrough my trousers mournfully..... I fancied I heard someone call the name "Heathcliffe...."

The route follows the Pennine Way towards Derbyshire and this takes the walker up what appears to be a sledway, probably the exit route for sleds full of coal from the ancient colliery on the summit of the Fell.

colliery building shaft

I crossed a patch of snow and appeared on the summit, which is extensive and full of holes, frankly. I headed South and found the actual summit cairn and then further south on a waymarked path to the South Top. This doesn’t have a cairn, so I went back to the summit again.

There, as a result of the abject loneliness, I met my imaginary friend Alf Wainwright-Bonnington. Pipes in hand, we marched over the bogs, Alf putting the world to rights and pontificating on whether or not being buggerred by the massed ranks of the Black and White Minstrels would be as enjoyable as it should be now that they’ve been banned for being racist. Or would the make-up rub off. He’s a strange one, is Alf.

Just a bit north of here is an area that has been well dug up. There are what appear to be bell pits and piles of gritstone spoil. There’s also a strange square building with a small entrance which would require crawling were it not fenced off.

I have been inside this building, back in 1972 when I first explored this top. It was dark but dry inside, and a good, efficient shelter. The keystone at the entrance appears to be breaking up, though. It may collapse, although I think its been in a collapsing state for a good thirty years or so. It needs some TLC. It needs restoration. It is a piece of heritage, even if we don’t really know what it is.

There are also open shafts on this moor – most of which are fenced off. There could well be some that aren’t fenced off, so keep your eyes peeled is my advice.

This may not be such a good area to wander about on in the middle of the night, even with peeled eyes.

darnbrook fell trig

Anyway, having done the Fountains Fell tour, I headed for Darnbrook Fell. The problem with Darnbrook fell is that its got lots of walls and fences. There is no need, though, to climb any walls. There are gates and hurdles at strategic spots and the fence close to the trig point has a small section which has no barbed wire. So, if you find yourself teetering over a totterring wall, you've gone wrong somewhere...

A gate near the Western edge leads on to an ATV track which descends to the track from Littondale. ATV’s cannot cross walls, so there is a gate at the bottom too.

strategic gate

The track gives easy walking with cracking views back to the road and, a little further on, to the parking spot. Under circumstances when there wasn’t a thirty mph headwind, it would be easy anyway. Damn cold that wind…. reached parts that….

track back to start

I repaired to Buckden for a cuppa and a toasted teacake before driving home.

This walk is around 7 miles with 1100 feet of uphill. Its easy, if a bit boggy in parts. Just Pennine stuff y’know. Usual slop.


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