Dodd Fell Hill, or simply Dodd Fell, is a hill located near the centre of the Yorkshire Dales between Wensleydale and the upper reaches of Langstrothdale.
|Classification:||Nuttall, Hewitt, Marilyn|
|OS Map||OL2, OL30|
|No. of Visits||2|
Dodd Fell Hill can, in many ways, be regarded as standing at a central point in the Yorkshire Dales. In addition to having at least a foothold in five valleys (Widdale, Snaizeholme, Sleddale, Wensleydale and Langstrothdale), the Pennine watershed crosses a shoulder of the fell near Kidhow Gate. Close by both the Wharfe and the Ribble rivers are born though their journeys end in opposite directions. Finally, the old boundary between the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire ran across the fell to the south of the summit.
Dodd Fell Hill is in fact the highest point of a large central upland area situated between upper Ribblesdale, Langstrothdale and Wensleydale. A number of long ridges, some with distinct tops of their own, radiate in a number of directions. These include Cam Fell and Snaizeholme Fell to the west and Wether Fell to the east. To the south-west, across the morass that is Fleets Moss is Woldside and beyond that the equally wet and peaty Yockenthwaite Moor.
The Ordnance Survey use the names ‘Dodd Fell’ and ‘Dodd Fell Hill’ fairly close to each other on the map. The hill is most commonly referred to as Dodd Fell Hill. The name is somewhat of a tautology, the ‘Hill’ on the end of Dodd Fell Hill is rather redundant as, in the context of the Dales, the words ‘fell’ and ‘hill’ are fairly interchangeable with ‘fell’ the more commonly used. Taken on its own Dodd Fell means ‘the hill with the rounded top’ which is a fairly accurate description.
The only feature of note on the grassy summit is an Ordnance Survey trig point which was built in 1951. On a day of good visibility, such as I enjoyed on my second visit in 2006, the long distance views from Dodd Fell Hill are superb. All the major Dales fells are visible and to the north-west the unmistakeable outline of the Scafells in the Lake District can also be seen.
There is no actual path to the summit though a couple of well-known, and well-used, old ways pass close by. The oldest is the Cam High Road, an ancient Roman road that once provided a route to and from the fort at Bainbridge. A long section of the Cam High Road, the part that runs over the southern breast of Dodd Fell Hill, is today a metalled road so it is possible to drive to within a mile of the summit and to a height of over 570m.
At Kidhow Gate another old track, the West Cam Road, splits off from the Roman road and heads north-west across the side of Dodd Fell Hill bound for Hawes. Alfred J Brown in his 1938 classic, ‘Striding Through Yorkshire’, waxes lyrical about this particular path calling it, “as fine a way as I’ve ever found.” It is perhaps not surprising then that the Pennine Way follows much of the length of West Cam Road – in his ‘Pennine Way Companion’ Wainwright describes this section as an “exhilarating high level march.”
While many people walk the Pennine Way relatively few of them bother to make the detour to the summit. Instead they continue along the West Cam Road, high above the Snaizeholme Valley until the route of the Pennine Way leaves the old track on Ten End. Ten End is the long northern ridge of Dodd Fell Hill and like the summit of the fell is worth a detour to visit, mainly to view a number of pretty little tarns.