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Great Gable and Green Gable from Borrowdale

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Climbing Great Gable from Seathwaite

Its very difficult to pin down which is the best walk in the Lake District as its not just down to the walk but also the weather. A recent day climbing Great Gable from Borrowdale made a serious claim to the title though.

The day in question started with a miserable dawn: loads of cloud cover and no light whatsoever. And so I had a lie-in. Some of the best days start off like this!

Things began brightening up where I live in Penrith around midday so I motivated myself and decided to head to upper Borrowdale for a walk.

As I parked my car at Seathwaite the valley was still shrouded in mist. Not to be put off, I took the path up past Stockley Bridge and headed up to Styhead Pass.

Normally I would include some photos of the walk but at this point I wasn’t expecting to see anything all day. I was just grateful for the exercise.

It was only when approaching Styhead Tarn that some blue sky could be seen overhead through the mist. This was a good sign. Also some of the walkers who passed me heading back downhill saw me with all my photography kit and told me I was in for some great views. Another good sign. Encouraged I carried on climbing.

By the time I had climbed up Aaron Slack and onto Great Gable’s summit crag the mist was all below me. The views were sensational!


Exploring Great Gable’s summit crag

As there were a few hours of daylight left time was on my side. I therefore had chance to walk about and just take in the expansive views before taking some photos. But what to take photos of and how could I possibly do it justice? I was totally spoilt for choice.

A wander across the summit crag of Great Gable towards Wasdale brings Westmorland Cairn into view. Perched on the vertiginous crags overlooking the valley this spot offered a great location for a bite to eat. And a photo.

While eating my tea I had been watching the mist swirling in the valley below, lapping at the base of neighbouring Kirk Fell. As soon as my meal was finished I had chance to take a few photos. The ‘Seatallan Silhouette’ photo was the best of this series that I took. As an experiment I also converted it to black and white and thought it worked well.

I chose this one as it wasn’t just a standard photograph of a view, more an evocative photograph of the fells rising out of the mist. It doesn’t really matter which fells they are in my opinion. For reference though, Seatallan is the fell in the background.

And then there was the view across Lingmell Gill towards Scafell Pike.

misty Wastwater from Westmorland Cairn on Great Gable
View of Scafell Pike from Westmorland Cairn

Whoever was on Scafell Pike on this day would have probably been grinning as much as I was! In fact anyone on any of the fells above the mist would have been.


Across Windy Gap to Green Gable for sunset

After a bit more exploring and taking in the views, I reluctantly left the summit of Great Gable to head across to Green Gable for sunset and, to my mind, one of the best views in the Lake District. Surely the views from there wouldn’t be as good?

As I reached Windy Gap, the col between the two summits, I saw a line of runners nearby. And there was a sizeable crowd on Green Gable. The reason soon became apparent when I noticed a line of people running down Great Gable behind me. In the middle of the line was a woman who was attempting to beat the Bob Graham Round record. Apparently she was sixteen hours in at that point and still plodding along. Pretty impressive! She didn’t stop to talk which was understandable and, as they all ran off, I was left on Green Gable by myself.

I was in good time for sunset so having set my tripod up I sat down and surveyed the magical scene. As the sun started to dip below the horizon I took a series of photos of the view for which Green Gable is renowned: the view along the High Stile Ridge separating the valleys of Ennerdale and Buttermere.

Ok, I’m not sure which view was better: Great Gable or Green Gable. I have been on both fells before and since this walk and never seen better views from either.


Descending from Green Gable to Seathwaite

And that was pretty much it. All that followed was the long sweeping descent past Base Brown back down into Borrowdale. The last stretch is not to be recommended in the dark as it involves some scrambling (this path is much better as a way up) but I had a good torch with me and had all night to get down. Luckily it didn’t take me that long though.

Footnote: I am not sure what time the woman doing the Bob Graham Round managed but can find no record of her time anywhere. She should have taken a break though as its rare to get such amazing views in the fells as there were on this day.

Great Gable and Green Gable from Borrowdale was last modified: May 6th, 2020 by Gavin Dronfield

Further reading:

  • A walk from Dufton to High Cup Nick
    January 2019 : A Walk from Dufton along the Pennine Way to watch sunset at High Cup Nick in winter

  • Stanley Ghyll Force walk
    November 2016 : A walk through autumnal Eskdale woodland to Stanley Ghyll Force

  • Photography review of 2015
    December 2015 : A look back over my landscape photographs taken in 2015 and my top five photos from the year


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