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Lake District Walks

Great Gable

The summit cairn on Great Gable

Date: 24th March 2007
Distance: 10.4 miles
Ascent: 3689 feet
Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY245137

Walk Summary:
A big walk in fine weather visiting Great Gable via the Grey Knotts ridge with a return incorporatiing Sprinkling Tarn and Seathwaite Fell.

Route Summary: Seatoller - Honister Hause - Drum House - Grey Knotts - Brandreth - Green Gable - Great Gable - Sty Head - Sprinkling Tarn - Seathwaite Fell - Ruddy Gill - Grains Gill - Stockley Bridge - Seathwaite - Seatoller


1. Grey Knotts from the track up to Honister Hause

Grey Knotts from the track up to Honister Hause

2. Honister Crag

Honister Crag

3. Pillar from Grey Knotts

Pillar from Grey Knotts

4. The top of Grey Knotts

The top of Grey Knotts

5. The top of Brandreth looking to Great Gable

The top of Brandreth looking to Great Gable

6. Ennerdale


7. On Green Gable

On Green Gable

8. Looking back at Green Gable

Looking back at Green Gable

9. The top of Great Gable

The top of Great Gable

10. Wasdale


11. Seathwaite Fell and Styhead Tarn

Seathwaite Fell and Styhead Tarn

12. Sprinkling Tarn

Sprinkling Tarn

13. Glaramara


14. The top of Seathwaite Fell

The top of Seathwaite Fell

15. At the top of Grains Gill

At the top of Grains Gill

16. Looking back at Seathwaite Fell

Looking back at Seathwaite Fell

Walk Detail: In complete contrast to the previous weekend the forecast for the Lakes was excellent so this time I thought I would guarantee myself a good day for Great Gable. I set off early again and made good time despite the usual mist on the South Stainmore side of the A66.

I used the old cart horse route to the top of Honister Hause which saved me having to climb the increasingly busy road. For once there wasn’t a strong wind and with the sun shining I was able to take my fleece off and walk bare armed for the first time this year. The Honister car park was very busy with most people obviously wanting a head start in height.

Having viewed my options I decided on the Drum House path rather than the more direct but steep route to Grey Knotts. I think I made a good choice and once I left Moses Trod it was a fairly straightforward pathless climb on to Grey Knotts with increasingly good views towards Pillar and of the Buttermere valley.

The ridge walk from Grey Knotts to Green Gable was fairly quick and easy with poor Brandreth not really making much impression with the promise of greater things ahead. Brandreth did however have an ingenious bench made from a fence post attached to the summit cairn.

The top of Green Gable was fairly busy, especially after the lack of people on the Grey Knott ridge. There was a superb view of Ennerdale while the view of Great Gable was quite awesome. After a short, slippery descent to Windy Gap I began the final climb up Great Gable which featured a bit of scrambling and lots of rock underfoot. It was not too difficult and I had made the summit by 11.30am less than 2½ hours after setting off from Seatoller.

After a few pictures at the summit and a look at the war memorial I headed south for the view of Wastwater. The view did not disappoint but by this time it was getting a bit hazy. It was also exciting to see fells like Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Middle Fell and Seatallan properly for the first time. After eating my soup I retraced my steps back to the top and then began the long rocky descent to Sty Head.

The restored path was much better than some I have walked on (Red Pike’s for instance!!) but it was still quite hard on the old knees. All through the descent though I had excellent views of Great End which really was impressive. At Sty Head I decided to climb up to Sprinkling Tarn and then on to Seathwaite Fell rather than returning straight away.

The climb to Sprinkling Tarn was accomplished fairly quickly and I was not disappointed with the tarn’s setting. The main summit of Seathwaite Fell was easily found and despite its relative lack of height in comparison to its neighbours there were some good views. In fact the summit ridge of the fell was really quite interesting with numerous small tarns and rocky outcrops. One day I will have to return and visit Wainwright’s sub-2000ft summit. Less easy to identify was the Seathwaite Fell’s South Top and to be on the safe side I visited a few contenders.

I’d been contemplating a real orgy of peak bagging by returning via Allen Crags and Glaramara but by this time I was getting a few twinges in my knee so I decided to return via Grain’s Gill. Despite the sometimes uncomfortable descent on another restored path I was actually rather glad I decided to return this way as it was quite a lovely little valley with some good views and numerous, delightful waterfalls.

On reaching Seathwaite I decided to return via the road thinking it would probably be easier than another rocky path. I’d had a great day with lovely weather and outstanding views however the endless rocky paths did prove to be quite tiring after a while and probably stop it from being a classic ‘walk’. Still Great Gable lived up to its reputation and it was great to have finally made it up there.

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