Little Fell

Little Fell

Little Fell is a twin-topped hill whose main claim to fame is that the source of the River Ure is situated between the hill’s two summits.

Height (m): 667
Height (ft): 2188
Prominence (m): 49
Classification: Nuttall, Hewitt
Hill No: 2743
Grid Ref: SD808971
OS Map OL19
No. of Visits 3

From a choice of available names on the map, including Lunds Fell, Sails and Ure Head, it is a shame that the compilers of official hill lists have chosen the less characterful name of Little Fell for the grassy moorland summit literally at the head of Wensleydale.

Little Fell from the lower slopes of Swarth Fell
Little Fell from the lower slopes of Swarth Fell

Indeed one of the chief points of interest of the fell is Ure Head, situated just below the twin summits, where the springs that form the source of the River Ure are to be found. Not far to the north, across the spongy moorland separating Little Fell from Hugh Seat, the Eden also emerges from the ground. With the source of the Swale also close by it is quite remarkable that three such rivers are all born so close together.

One of the undistinguished springs from where the Ure seeps out of the ground
One of the undistinguished springs from where the Ure seeps out of the ground

A lesser known stream, West Gill – itself a tributary of the Ure via Cotter Gill, rises on the eastern flanks of Little Fell. This stream, featuring a number of small waterfalls, forms the eastern boundary of Little Fell and provides an interesting approach to the top of Little Fell via Cotterdale.

Little Fell as seen from West Gill
Little Fell as seen from West Gill

The fell has two summits only a metre height difference apart. The highest is Little Fell at 667m while a short distance to the north is Sails at 666m. Both summits are marked by a low pile of stones, barely worthy of the name of a cairn. In addition the top of Sails also features an Ordnance Survey ring.

The low pile of stones marking the summit of Little Fell
The low pile of stones marking the summit of Little Fell

More interesting than the summit cairns are a handful of stone pillars, some in better condition than others, that can be found to the west of the summits. Overlooking upper Wensleydale they also provide a fine view northwards over the watershed and up the Mallerstang valley.

Two of the stone pillars to the west of the summits
Two of the stone pillars to the west of the summits

Little Fell is largely grassy and a faint quad track provides an easy to follow route over the top of the fell. Indeed my second visit was in a real pea souper and this track guided me through the thick fog almost all the way to the southern terminus of the fell at Cotter End three miles distant.

This faint grassy track led me safely across Little Fell in thick fog
This faint grassy track led me safely across Little Fell in thick fog

An alternative way to reach Cotter End is to descend the pathless moor to the west to join the High Way, also known as Lady Anne’s Way, a fine track that crosses from Cotter End into the upper Eden Valley below Outhgill.

Approaching Cotter End on the High Way
Approaching Cotter End on the High Way

If heading from the top of Little Fell to the High Way one small feature of interest that could be visited is the modest gritstone edge of Long Crags.

Long Crags, a rare rash of stones on the otherwise grassy slopes of Little Fell
Long Crags, a rare rash of stones on the otherwise grassy slopes of Little Fell

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