Great Gable with Father John

Name of walk Great Gable with Father John
Date of walk 2015-08-06
Distance walked (miles) 7
Duration of walk 6 hours 30 minutes
Weather Low cloud, lifting to sunshine.
Peaks on walk Great Gable
Walked with Fr. John Inglis
Parking Wasdale Head

Father John had never walked in Wasdale before, so we decided on a walk up to Great Gable. We had looked over to Great Gable from Green Gable last year, but never had the time to detour over to it. So this year we would devote a whole day to climbing it and walking in the Wasdale valley. John comes up from darkest Surrey every August as the supply priest for the R.C. parishes of Keswick and Cockermouth, taking over the duties of Fr. Tom Singleton, the priest who presided over my son’s First Communion, and who in turn goes off walking in Scotland. This way Parish Masses still get covered and priests get holidays. John and I had arranged to meet at the junction on the side of Wast Water where the roads from Santon Bridge and Gosforth meet, at 9am.


When I arrived on the shores of Wast Water it was raining and the mist was down so far that I could not even see the end of the lake. When John arrived we decided to leave my car here and drive down to Wasdale Head.


The mist had lifted slightly, so we were optimistic, but still thought the prospect of a coffee and a chat in the Wasdale Head Inn a better option than starting our walk too soon. The bar was shut, but they offered us the hotel lounge to sit in and were happy to make us some coffee.


The mist had cleared from the valley, so it was time to make a move. John puts his boots on. With any luck the mist would lift by mid-day.


We stop off at St. Olaf's which dates from 1550. The church yard contains the graves of many climbers who died on the surrounding fells. Maybe not the best introduction to a rocky mountain climb on a misty day!


Just enough room inside to swing a cat.


John crossing the bridge with Wast Water behind. Our ascent starts just after the bridge. It is called the Moses' Trod path.


At the start of the steep grassy ascent track up Great Gable.


As we climb the mist is lifting with us, it is now as high as the col at Beck Head. Did I mention this route was steep?


We have now reached the scree path which leads across the side of Great Gable to Beck Head. The clouds have now lifted from the top of the screes and from Yewbarrow.


The route up to Kirk Fell and Beck Head Tarns.


We look down into the Ennerdale Valley and across to Haystacks. The Red Pike range is still in cloud.


Close up of Black Sail Hut below Haystacks.


We stop to have lunch before the final ascent, hoping the mist would lift a bit more. John had made us both smoked salmon sandwiches, he knows how to treat his walking partners! Looking out towards Brandreth and the slopes of Fleetwith Pike. From here we could follow the continuing route of the Moses Trod path which goes to Honister.


Green Gable is now out of the mist.


A close up of walkers descending Green Gable to Windy Gap. It looks like we won't have the Great Gable summit to ourselves!


We start the walk up to the summit, a mixture of scree paths and then rock scrambling.


The views out are continually improving.


Looking across to Wast Water.


A border collie is sitting and waiting patiently on the right for his family to catch up.


From now on it is negotiating rocks and boulders.


A view back down and across the top of Kirk Fell to Pillar, Scoat Fell and pointy Steeple.


Every so often the mist would drift over, but it was short lived. Our ridge route up from Beck Head can be seen below.


As we approach the last bit of the ascent Crummock Water comes into view.


Now in close up with Haystacks in the foreground.


Blue skies and sunshine on the summit of Great Gable....and people!


The reconditioned Memorial Plaque. Every Remembrance Sunday a service is held here at 11am, come rain or shine, and is attended by hundreds of walkers.


It's that border collie again! The Scafells still with mist on the tops.


John next to the summit cairn of Great Gable (2,949ft)


We move away from the crowds towards the Westmoreland Cairn and the precipitous edges. Scafell Pike and Scafell now out of the mist. Lingmell front right and the Piers Gill route up to Scafell Pike, still on my list of must do's.


The Westmoreland Cairn is top left. In the distance is Harrison Stickle and Pike o'Stickle.


A great view is to had looking down Little Hell Gate towards Wasdale Head and Wast Water.


Looking steeply down on Tophet Bastion and the upper wall of the Napes, with the scree of Great Hell Gate running down on the left from the Westmoreland Cairn.


John and me on Great Gable summit with Sprinkling Tarn behind us and Great End on the right.


We head down the Breast Route to Sty Head.


View across Windy Gap to Green Gable.


We meet a cute sixteen week old Cairn Terrier, whose paws were a little sore from a walk yesterday, heading up to Great Gable in comfort.


Sty Head Tarn now in view.


Looking into Borrowdale.


Sty Head.


"Ah! Five more minutes please John!"


We now make our way down the final track towards Wasdale Head.


View back to Great Gable from the valley path.


The old pack horse bridge near the pub.


Back at the Wasdale Head Inn. I had a pint of Red Pike. Don't ask me what it tasted like, I don't think it touched the sides! We had chips too. John can never resist the lure of a sliced fried potato! Billy the dog had quite a few of mine!


On this final photo of Great Gable the ascent and descent paths can be seen, just a pity the sun wasn't on it. The walk was nearly seven miles and had taken us a leisurely six and a half hours.


We then returned to Wast Water to take the photos that the morning mist had obscured. Always a great view. Yewbarrow, a bit of Kirk Fell, Great Gable in shadow, Lingmell and Scafell Pike in cloud.


We got chatting with a family staying in their camper van parked next to mine and John's car. We all crossed over the stepping stones to reach the little island, which is usually inaccessible.


The two kids were called Neo and Thea and their dog was Mossy.


Neo and Thea pose for a photo on the island.


They take our photo.


The island and the second lot of stepping stones. The Wasdale Screes behind.


John negotiating his way back across the first stepping stones.

We had an excellent day! John was great company as usual. We were glad we hung back a while at the start. We could not have asked for better weather. Tomorrow we intend to visit Ennerdale for a slightly less strenuous walk around the lake!