In Northern England, especially in the Lake District and in the Pennine Dales, the word "fell" originally referred to an area of uncultivated high ground used as common grazing. This meaning is found in the names of various breeds of livestock bred for life on the uplands, such as Rough Fell sheep and fell ponies. It is also found in many place names across the North of England, often attached to the name of a community; thus Seathwaite Fell, for example, would be the common grazing land used by the farmers of Seathwaite. The fellgate marks the exit from a settlement onto the fell (see photograph for example).
Today, "fell" can refer to any one of the mountains and hills of the Lake District and the Pennine Dales. This meaning tends to overlap with the previous one, especially where place names are concerned: in particular, names that originally referred to grazing areas tend to be applied to hilltops, as is the case with the aforementioned Seathwaite Fell. In other cases the reverse is true: for instance, the name of Wetherlam, in the Coniston Fells, though understood to refer to the mountain as a whole, strictly speaking refers to the summit; the slopes have names such as Tilberthwaite High Fell, Low Fell and Above Beck Fells.
Groups of cairns are a common feature on many fells, often marking the summit - there are fine examples on Wild Boar Fell in Mallerstang Dale, Cumbria, and on 'Nine Standards Rigg' just outside Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.
As the most mountainous region of England, the Lake District is the area most closely associated with the sport of fell running, which takes its name from the fells of the district. "Fellwalking" is also the term used locally for the activity known in the rest of Great Britain as hillwalking.
In other Scandinavian countries, a different word is used. Duottar in Northern Sámi, tundar in Akkala Sámi, tunturi in Finnish; "duottar" and "tunturi" are from the same Sami origin as the English word tundra, and come from the proto-word form *tōnter) is a treeless mountain landscape that has been shaped by glacier ice earlier in history.
In the Finnish language, a fell (tunturi) is distinguished from a mountain (vuori) in that true mountains have permanent glaciers. Erosion has also given fells a gentler shape, whereas the younger mountains have a rugged shape. Famous fells in Finland are Halti, Saana, Ylläs, Aakenustunturi and Korvatunturi, the legendary homeplace of Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa Claus.