Thursday 17 October 2019: Fountains Fell and Darnbrook Fell from Blishmire, 4½ miles; Birks Fell from Litton, five miles
It’s not difficult to pick up hills in the morning, drive a bit, more hills in the afternoon, at least not when you have a 1000ft or more start and only that much climbing for the summits. Today was such a day (tomorrow would be too, see next section).
First, find somewhere to park high in Blishmire – much easier these days, thanks to Google Street View. Fountains Fell (2192ft) is just a simple straight-up pull, on the Pennine Way at first, then staying near the wall when the Way moves left. It’s a fascinating top, relics of mediaeval coal mines still present, most fenced off these days but take care all the same. Very interesting.
But then you have to go to Darnbook Fell (2047ft). It’s not far, just a mile and a half, with just 40 metres of re-ascent from the col. I could see a fenceline taking a bit of a kink, so thought I would go there more directly. After twenty minutes stumbling through heather, I decided my return would be by the fence. And when you get there, it’s one of those hills where you stand on top of this prominence then that and can’t be sure where the top is. It’s defined, apparently, as ‘peat hag near trig point’, the trig point being the wrong side of the barbed wire, so good luck with that.
As compensation I’d planned a lunchtime pint at the Queens Arms in Litton and this helped my mood no end. I wasn’t so sure I was going to enjoy the climb of Birks Fell (2001ft), but it was a nice day and, apart from a brief veer off the path near the start, was soon on what passes for the ridge.
There is a spot height marked as 610m which, like I’m sure generations of others, I assumed would be the top, beyond the wall to the west, but it didn’t look very promising. The true top is, indeed, at a cairn to the east, which I found without too much searching.
While on the hill, it’s worth checking out Birks Tarn as well, and as insurance in case the guys with satellite theodolites promoted it to Hewitt status, the 607m top of Firth Fell as well. All in all, much nicer than expected.