With Ulrike. We drove up the tiny road that leads from Stainforth towards Halton Gill, past the Pennine Way sign pointing north up Pen-y-ghent, past, not far after, the Pennine Way sign pointing south up Fountains Fell, to park, not far after, where a land rover track branches off right of the road signposted “New Bridge 3”. We followed this east for a bit, past a big herd of cows that paid us no heed, to where a wall heads off SE towards the top of Darnbrook Fell. We followed this on its left side where much of the time there was something very faint underfoot trying to be a path. As we neared the summit the way was blocked by a wall-fence coming in from the left. There was no gate or stile but by following it a very short way we found a place where there was a gap in the wall and all we had to do was step easily over the (not barbed) fence. From there is it five minutes to the summit where the base of the trig point is rather spectacularly exposed above the surrounding peat. I fear it may soon topple. Now we wanted to cross the wall we had followed up which was easy enough as Ulrike spotted a small section where the wire was unbarbed. After a whole we met another wall coming in from the left which had a gate which we went through before turning left and following it. Again there is something here trying to be a path. There is also a bit of bog but not too bad.
Pleasant easy walking eventually took us a junction with the Pennine Way to a stile across the wall where there is a National Trust sign marked “Malham Tarn Estate” and warning “There are a number of open mine shafts in this area. Please keep to the footpath.” The Pennine Way doesn’t visit the top of Fountains Fell but follow it over the stile and south a very short way post some a stone man and there is a good clear path that will take you to the top without undue fear of disappearing down a hole. The descent back down the Pennine Way took us very easily back to the road which we followed to the car. We met a herd of bullocks heading up the road the other way. We stood aside to let them pass which they did without bothering us. Fifteen minutes later, driving back to Settle, we had to negotiate them again by car where they had stopped and were standing around a cattlegrid looking defeated by it. And so down to Settle - where Ulrike was charmed by the eccentric explosion of flowerpot sculpture they have there in the summer months - and a snack in the Olde Naked Man Café.
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