IT is only the Pennine Way walkers (of which there are many) who visit the summit of Fountain’s Fell and even they will usually skirt this fascinating summit.

The walk described below has easy access to the high ground and then heads distinctly ‘off piste’ when visiting Darnbrook Fell, Fountain’s neighbour. They are both ‘Dales 30’ mountains.

A mile north of Malham Tarn, on the road between Malham and Arncliffe, lies Tennant’s Gill Farm and, to the north, the slopes of Fountain’s Fell. There is no official car parking nearby but it is a quiet road and there are opportunities to park roadside. At the entrance to Tennant’s Gill Farm join the Pennine Way passing the farm on its left. The path is followed for two and a half miles towards the summit of Fountain’s Fell, the path climbs steadily through rough farmland and then open access moorland.

Where the path reaches its high point near some tall boy cairns a faint track on your left heads on to the summit area of Fountain’s Fell. This is an area of historical interest with numerous mine shafts, cairns and a well preserved bee hive coke oven 2m high. The area was used to mine coal before it was taken down to the valleys to power the early mills. The mine shafts originate in the 19th century and when they became too large to mine, abandoned and a new one was sunk…that is why there are so many. The summit cairn for Fountain’s Fell is to the west end of the summit plateau meaning you have to walk through the old workings…very eerie in misty conditions. In good weather the views of Pen y Ghent are excellent and unusual as it is rarely viewed from here.

Return to the tall boys and, in wet weather, or if you are not keen on taking to the rough often trackless moorland, return back down the Pennine Way. Alternatively head north east alongside a wall (bending more east after 200 metres) over rough ground. The crossing to Darnbrook is made easier if you stick close to the wall that bends right and then left to the col before continuing up gradual slopes to Darnbrook Fell. The trig point at the summit is on the wrong side of the wall and perched on a peat hag. It is interesting to see such a trig in all its glory, the large concrete base (never usually seen) a reflection of the big effort required to build each one 100 years ago.

From Darnbrook Fell follow the fence, changing to a wall east and then south east along the high shoulder. The walking is rough over peat and moor but the views over Littondale and Upper Wharfedale do compensate. The easiest way to descend the shoulder is turn west and descend in to the valley north of Darnbrook Farm, alternatively carry along the shoulder south till it meets the road ½ a mile east of the farm.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, an outdoor business in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written his own book, the Dales 30, which describes the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates, and learn a skill, climb a hill weekends. To find out more details on any of the above and details of many more walks in the area visit where2walk.co.uk

The Northern Echo:

WALK FACTS

Distance: Roughly 8.5 miles

Height to Climb: 380m (1,260 feet)

Start: SD 884691. On the Malham/Arncliffe road near Tennants Farm.

Difficulty: An easy climb to Fountain’s Fell followed by rough walking up and down Darnbrook Fell. In mist compass skills are needed.

Eat and Drink: Arncliffe and Malham are 3 miles distant.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.