Simon Fell is a near neighbour to Ingleborough but in comparison receives only a fraction of the visitors that famous mountain does.
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Conceding 74m in height to Ingleborough, Simon Fell is completely dominated by the higher fell. Indeed such is Ingleborough’s draw that very few people would set out to climb Simon Fell alone.
The majority of routes heading for Ingleborough bypass Simon Fell although two, the route from Humphrey Bottom and the path from Horton both pass within half a mile and a third of a mile respectively from Simon Fell’s summit. The latter actually travels right across Simon Fell Breast on its way between Ingleborough and Horton. This means that Simon Fell is in the curious situation of receiving thousands of visitors a year (mainly Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge walkers) but very few visitors to the summit.
The fact is that the vast majority of those people who do make their way on to Simon Fell’s summit are visiting it as the central top of a ridge walk that includes Ingleborough and Park Fell. It is an excellent walk with two options, one a magnificent ‘edge’ path above Chapel-le-Dale and Ribblehead which requires a detour to visit the summit, and the other a simple case of following the wall over Simon Fell, the easier option of the two for bagging the summit.
For those who want to climb Simon Fell direct without setting foot on Park Fell or Ingleborough first there is the option of a path from the Hill Inn, Chapel-le-Dale, via Great Douk. Whilst the Great Douk path is clearly signed, the continuance on to Simon Fell is for some reason no longer marked on the Ordnance Survey map. It was never a definitive right of way anyway but is fairly easy to follow on the ground, indeed sections of it have been slabbed.
It is an interesting route which can include a visit to Great Douk and the interesting limestone oasis of Middle Washfold. Featuring some fine limestone pavement, cave entrances and a stream plunging underground Middle Washfold is a super spot. From Middle Washfold the path passes through a nearby wall; to reach Simon Fell simply turn left and climb up the wallside on a steepening path until reaching the ‘edge’ path.
It has to be said that the summit is not the most inspiring one in the Dales. A small pile of stones near the path and a wall that runs along the top of the fell are the only features. As the summit area is also fairly flat there is very little depth to the view, which is in case completely dominated by the upper reaches of Ingleborough to the south-west. My experience of Simon Fell’s summit is probably not helped by the fact that on two out of three visits it has been in hill fog.
Very different are the views from the ‘edge’ path, a superb airy promenade with magnificent vistas of Chapel-le-Dale, Ribblehead and Whernside. The view looking across Humphrey Bottom towards the summit of Ingleborough is also magnificent.
One part of Simon Fell I still want to visit is Lord’s Seat, a cairn topped eminence which is 14m lower than the summit but from some aspects actually seems to be higher. The view of Ribblesdale from the cairn is supposed to be excellent and is high on my to-do list.