Saturday 25 March 2017. Jacqui joined me today for another walk in the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve recently found a list of 30 Dales Peaks above 2,000ft and as Fountains Fell (2,192ft) came in at #19, I just had to take this opportunity to go and do it. My leg felt much better than yesterday although as I was later to find out, on the downhill bits, that it still hasn’t fully recovered. After an “interesting” drive on the narrow country road from Langcliffe we were lucky to get the last available parking spot just above Malham Tarn.
As we set off up the Pennine Way we could see a series of small blue marker flags and met several runners coming in the opposite direction. I discovered that they were taking part in either a marathon, half marathon or 10k race all based at Malham Tarn. I thought that I recognised one of the female runners and now see that Helen’s daughter, Amanda Seims came second in the female half-marathon. I should have said hello. Soon after, as the Pennine Way crossed a minor road, we met one of the male runners who appeared to have missed a turning point and was heading the wrong way. Luckily, for him, we were able to point him in the right direction.
The Pennine Way took us almost to the top of Fountains Fell but before we got there we stopped for lunch at a cairn which afforded wonderful 360 degree views. From here we could see all 3 of the major Yorkshire Peaks (Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside). The snow-capped Howgills, north of Sedbergh, were clearly visible as were some of the Lake District hills. It was a wonderfully peaceful spot to sit and contemplate whilst taking in the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
By now, were had reached the snow line and the next half mile or so from our lunch spot to the insignificant pile of rocks marking the true summit of Fountains Fell was hard going as we had to weave around large patches of snow. Where these couldn’t be avoided we soon found that they were well over a foot deep in places. In one spot I had to step down into a snow drift and asked Jacqui to hold my had to stop me falling and jarring my already sore knee. The snow was much deeper than I had anticipated and I ended up face down, in a heap, lying in the snow.
As we descended we left the snow behind but the going didn’t get any easier crossing tussocky open moorland. The last leg of the walk was a little confusing crossing Chapel Fell. There were no signposts although the walk instructions suggested keeping the wall to our right. Jacqui and I had a minor dispute over whether or not we were following the “right” wall but as I had the GPS, I was convinced that we were heading in the right direction, although there were times when I too had my doubts. We deviated away from the wall to find easier ground and eventually emerged, as planned, on the road not too far from my car.
Perhaps I’ve lost some level of fitness through my sciatica but this was a really tough walk and I was well and truly knackered by the end. It was 8.75 miles with a total ascent of almost 1,400ft.