With autumn champing at the bit to arrive in full force, so this past Friday, September 16 was like a Grand Finale of my Lake District summer! Blessed with incredibly clear views and sunshine all day – though also a very strong cold northerly wind and -5°C wind chill – so it was to be THE day for iconic Great Gable & its more humble sibling, Green Gable!
From Troutbeck Bridge, it would have taken just as long to drive to a nearer start point, and my brother had said it was possible to walk all the way – and so instead I started very early, it was only just getting light. Parked up at Dungeon Ghyll Old Hotel, Great Langdale at 6:00 am and so I set off, walking via Mickleden, up Rossett Gill, where the sun was coming up behind me over the Langdale Pikes …..
To Angle Tarn, below Bowfell….
Then Esk Hause, down to Sprinkling Tarn where several people were wild camping, and so to Sty Head by 9:30 am, where there’s a permanent stretcher box for the Mountain Rescue Team. It was too cold to stop walking, but there was beautiful sunshine all day, and it even felt warm when sheltered from the biting cold wind! Overhead were hundreds of honking geese flying south in V-shaped formations all morning – they had a tailwind to help them, but it must have been cold up there!
From Sty Head, I followed Wainwright’s recommendation of going round the circuit of The Gable Girdle, which was really fun! Yes honestly, it was fantastic and is highly recommended, and only a bit scary in places where the path is not clear! 😱😱 It winds across and around the mountain under the famous rock-climbing crags with iconic names, Kern Knotts, Great Hell Gate, Great Napes, Little Hell Gate, White Napes and across the scree slopes, with steep and beautiful views down to Wasdale Head and Wastwater.
The path goes all the way round via Beck Head and then along under Gable Crag to Windy Gap, where I turned right to clamber up to the summit of Great Gable 899 m (2,949 ft), just in time for lunch at 12:30 pm.
The summit has a famous War Memorial, dedicated in 1924, and there is a short service held up there every year, whatever the weather, on Remembrance Day.
Every mountain summit view was clear in all directions, and there were also distant views of Windermere, Yorkshire, Pennines, Isle of Man & Scotland. I met lots of interesting people too, everyone has a story to tell, including a couple from Alaska who started reading the Wainwright books during lockdown and then decided to do all the 214 Wainwrights – they’ve now done over 50 of them, and reckon they need another 6 trips to the UK to complete them all! These are the views of the NW fells of Grassmoor, Haystacks, Kirk Fell etc…
Then to the summit of Green Gable 801 m (2,628 ft) with its steep grassy slopes, so lovely after all that rock and scree. Also great views, especially down to Ennerdale, and far off to Scotland….
Then I started my descent, down Aaron Slack and back to Sty Head at 2:30 pm to complete the Gable Girdle circuit….
And then retraced my steps for the return trip to Great Langdale – this was the view of Great Gable and Green Gable when I turned back round!
And so back on the path…
From Esk Hause, most people on the return section at the same time were coming from a day spent on Scafell Pike, which is the same direction, but they had cut off at Esk Hause and ascended from there. And so, there were many of us coming down Mickleden to Dungeon Ghyll – we all arrived back there about 5:30 pm, tired but oh so happy!
Total: 25.14 km, 1,583 m altitude gain, walking time 8 hours, total time 11+ hours, total amount of scree walked across: immeasurable!
Wainwright: “Great Gable is a favourite of all fellwalkers, and first favourite with many. Right from the start of one’s apprenticeship in the hills, the name appeals magically. It is a good name for a mountain, strong, challenging, compelling, starkly descriptive, suggesting the pyramid associated with the shape of the mountain since early childhood… In appearance too, Great Gable has the same appealing attributes. The name fits well. This mountain is strong yet not sturdy, masculine yet graceful. It is the undisputed overlord of the group of hills to which it belongs…”
It was a truly spectacular day marking the end of summer for me, and I’m full of gratitude for all the mountains climbed and places visited. For now though, there’s definitely a chill in the air ~ autumn is very definitely here! 🍁