“Any walks planned in this neck of the woods in the near future?” pinged a text message from Heather, who lives in the Yorkshire Dales.
There were no plans, but that was no hindrance to my setting off on Monday morning to Long Preston, and thence to Stainforth to the start of a stroll up Fountains Fell. I’d forgotten my wallet, so Heather had to pay for the parking (sorry, Heather).
It was a lovely fresh autumnal morning as we headed out of the village and up to Catrigg Force, which was gushing pleasantly, but was difficult to photograph in the contrasty light.
There’s a fine view of Pen-y-ghent from above the Force.
Today, Heather was eagle-eyed when it came to spotting Waxcap mushrooms. The one below is a Scarlet hooded Waxcap, and
we she found larger specimens of Crimson Waxcaps and Meadow Waxcaps. Apparently most Waxcaps are edible and it appears that Heather may have vast quantities stashed in her freezer.
We reached the trig point at 593 metres in good spirits, before the cloud immersed us.
Navigation to the summit of Fountains Fell proved quite straightforward, as Heather is an expert mountain leader (ML). She passed her ML Assessment a couple of weeks ago – not an easy task – and should be congratulated for that. Congratulations, Heather.
Meanwhile between the trig point and the summit, my map, a scratty piece of A4 paper, had accidentally blown away. I had no spare. Luckily, Heather had her own rather more secure version.
We met Lionel and Susan Bidwell on the summit of Fountains Fell. They were ‘bagging’ summits – Lionel is Munroist number 4584 and has climbed about 480 ‘Marilyns’ - hills with a 150 metre prominence relative to their surroundings. He is striving to extricate himself from the ‘Corridor of Obscurity’ to the ‘Hall of Fame’ that conquerors of 600 or more Marilyns are eligible for membership.
I have to thank Heather for getting us to that summit, as following the loss of my map I discovered that my compass (yes, I had one!) had reversed its polarity, sending me south when I thought I was going north. I had a trusty Garmin GPS in reserve, of course. Its batteries turned out to be flat.
We bade our farewells to the Bidwells and trundled off along the Pennine Way on the route shown below, passing Dale Head Farm, which surprised Heather by the absence of its usual pack of baying hounds.
Lunch was taken at this delightful spot beside Churn Milk Hole. Well, most of lunch was ‘taken’ – it transpired that I’d left half of mine on the kitchen table at home.
By now the cloud had completely taken over and this morning’s crisp brightness had deteriorated into a cold greyness. That didn’t stop Heather pausing to identify several more Waxcaps, admiring their virtues as culinary delights.
I don’t recall them being quite that corrosive!
Then suddenly she bolted off towards Stainforth, in search of refreshments.
What an excellent day out. 21km, with 570 metres ascent, in 5.5 hours. The route is shown below and a short slideshow is here.