Kirkby Fell is one of three 500m+ tops in close proximity to the west of Malham and was promoted to the list of Deweys following a survey in April 2011.
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Of the three 500m+ hills immediately to the west of Malham, Kirkby Fell is the lowest, being just one metre below Rye Loaf Hill to the west and seven metres lower than Grizedales to the north. All three summits are within less than two-thirds of a mile of each other, an unusually close concentration of summits in the Yorkshire Dales.
Kirkby Fell was only promoted to the Database of British Hills as a 500m top (or Dewey, named after the list creator, Michael Dewey) in 2011. This followed a survey of the hill which found that it had the requisite 30m of prominence to be classed as a separate hill to its two near neighbours.
Despite being the lowest of the three fells it is the one that is most readily seen from Malhamdale and the village of Malham itself. Presumably the fell is also named after Malham’s southern neighbour, the village of Kirkby Malham.
The easiest way on to the summit of Kirkby Fell is to take the path leaving Long Lane, on the western side of Malham, signposted for Pikedaw. Having climbed up alongside the shoulder of Pikedaw Hill the footpath joins a wide track which is also part of the Dales High Way and Pennine Bridleway. After joining the track a gate is reached. After passing through this gate keep an eye out for a gate in the wall to the left. This will provide access to the top of Kirkby Fell without having to climb over any walls.
The summit features a number of small cairns. The highest point seems to be the cairn on a rocky outcrop near a depression. There are further cairns to the south in an area that looks like it may also include shallow former mine workings.
The view is a good one, the highlight being the view of Malhamdale which needs a slight detour to the eastern side of the summit area to be best appreciated. The Yorkshire Three Peaks are well seen as are the neighbouring hills of Rye Loaf Hill and Grizedales. South is the unmistakeable silhouette of Pendle Hill while to the south-east Flasby Fell and Cracoe Fell are also well seen.
One area of interest away from the summit is the long gritstone crag called Low Grit. A jumble of dark, almost black boulders, Low Grit can be reached by a detour left from the Pikedaw path before it joins the Pennine Bridleway.