The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Fountains Fell

Good Friday, 3 April


A 10-mile walk, taking in Fountains Fell, starting from a layby by Helwith Bridge had been the plan for this afternoon, but that plan was thwarted when we found the layby to be closed. What to do instead? Drive nearer and have a shorter walk was the answer, which wasn't a bad change of plan, considering the rain and low cloud.

"Is Pen y Ghent around here somewhere?" asked a white van man who happened along soon after we had parked up. We pointed into the cloud and confirmed that it was there, albeit hiding. Armed with the directions and distances we gave, he and his children set off, completely ill-attired for their outing. I'm sure they'll have been fine, though. It was pretty warm out, even if a bit damp.

I've not attached a photo to this post, but if you go back to my post about White Coomb, back in November, and take a look at that photo, then it would give a pretty good idea of what Fountains Fell was like today: a cairn and a lot of low cloud. Still, we've been very close to this top twice before, so we've seen the view (thus I decreed, if there's a good hill to do in poor visibility, out of the batch pencilled in for this trip, then this was the one).

Nobody has told Fountains Fell that mud-season is coming to its close, and on the way down it was Mick who slipped and hit the deck first. I followed suit a while later, but Mick definitely won the slathering-self-comprehensively-with-mud prize.

We trod more carefully the rest of the way down, and by the time the road was reached the cloud had lifted. There were even small patches of blue sky appearing. If only we'd set out an hour later!

With 4.6 miles walked and an amount of ascent that I've not calculated, off we headed to spend the night in the layby from where I had intended for us to tackle tomorrow's hill. It obviously isn't our day for laybys, as we got there to find it not just closed but barricaded off as the site office compound for renovation works on Dent Head Viaduct. Two Plans B were then required: B) for somewhere to spend the night; and B) for a different start point for tomorrow's walk. I do hope today's 100% record of layby closures was a coincidence that doesn't persist through the rest of this trip!

(Other failures of the day: 1) a tea loaf, baked this week, is still sitting on the side in the kitchen at home, in the exact same location as we left the flapjacks on the last trip; 2) after a very thorough search of every storage place in Colin it was agreed that the only place my Paramo trousers could be was at home (I would have sworn I packed them!). Fortunately, I did pack both my summer trousers and some overtrousers.)

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  1. Not the first time food of the cake variety has been left behind. Nor an item of Paramo clothing. There's a pattern here...
    Good luck with the layby situation 😁

    1. I'm going to have to further modify the checklist to specifically mention cake (and onions - another regular omission). That wouldn't help with the Paramo, as on both occasions when it has been forgotten, I've been convinced that it has been packed.

      Happily, the weather was such that it was only the first walk where the Paramo was missed, and the cake supplies I did remember to take just about lasted out the trip.

  2. You're in the land of my formative years and it sounds like there's more to come which I look forward to. The Yorkshire Dales are my favourite location anywhere, firstly because of their unique beauty and secondly because of the personal nostalgic connection.

    I hope you get some better weather and decent photos.

    1. Well, we certainly did get the better weather! Thirteen sunny hills out of fourteen - can't complain about that.

      The Dales are up there as one of my favourite places in the UK (I have a few), and this trip (which did stray out of Yorkshire a few times) demonstrated what an excellent area this is for hill bagging; with multiple hills accessible from single start points, very little driving was needed for a considerable amount of walking.