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Great Gable from Honister Pass

Lake District Walk

Nat Park - Lake District - Lake District Western Fells

Wainwrights - Brandreth, Great Gable, Green Gable, Grey Knotts

County/Area - Cumbria

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 7.3 miles / 11.8 km    Ascent - 2400 feet / 727 metres

Time - 6 hours 0 minutes    Grade - hard

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Ordnance Survey Explorer OL4Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL4Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 90Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 90Digital Map1:50kBUY

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Great Gable from Honister Pass
Click image to visit gallery of 4 images.

Great Gable is a name that immediately grabs one's imagination. Seen from Wasdale it is a mountain of perfect proportions so much so that it was chosen as the centre-piece of the motif for the Lake District National Park. The approach from Honister Pass involves less ascent than other approaches but still provides the walker with an exciting outing into the mountains.

The start of this Lake District walk is from the small National Trust car park by the Youth Hostel (grid ref. NY225136) walk along the road past the slate works until you reach the singed footpath on your left. The path follows the line of an old tramway steeply uphill to the site of the former winding house at the top of the incline (marked Drum House on OS maps). Here the path to Great gable turns almost due south following a gradually rising route across the flanks of Grey Knotts and Brandreth before contouring around the head of Ennerdale. You are now on Moses Trod, reputedly a track used for the transport of illicit liquor in days gone by.

To your left is Green Gable with the craggy outline of Great Gable slightly ahead. The summit is not visible from here nor are you able to appreciate the unique shape of the mountain. Nevertheless you have an excellent view of the High Stile ridge with Kirk Fell and Pillar dominating the south side of Ennerdale. Below on the valley floor you will be able to see Black Sail Youth Hostel in its wonderfully remote location.

Passing the loose path up to Windy Gap on your left, you continue to slowly gain height as you contour around the northern flank of Great Gable to reach Beck Head. From here you have your first view into Wasdale. The exciting part of the ascent now begins. Turning up the steep rocky slope of Great Gable you have roughly 700 feet of easy scrambling following the rough and rocky cairned path. As the gradient eases you are nearing the summit, which will almost certainly have a few other visitors unless you are very lucky.

As might be expected the view is excellent in every direction with views of almost every peak in Lakeland included in the panorama. Although the mountain view is of the highest calibre, the view from the Westmorland Cairn is the most spectacular with a bird's eye view of Wasdale over two thousand feet below you. Departure from any summit is always an anti-climax although on this walk you still have three more mountains to explore.

Taking the main path north-east, your next objective is Green Gable. Obviously of lesser stature than its sister, it is still a very worthy mountain. Descending to Windy Gap, the ascent of Green Gable is soon accomplished. From the summit you can see Brandreth and Grey Knotts, the last two peaks included in this walk. Descending on the main path northwards, follow the remains of the fence posts to the summit of Brandreth.

The continuation along the ridge to Grey Knotts is an easy but rewarding stroll with excellent mountains views to be admired on both sides. From the summit we turned down grassy slopes making for the drum house at the top of the incline. From here it is a quick descent back to your car.

Other walks nearby

Walk 1114 Scafell Pike via Corridor Routehard9.5 miles
Walk 1236 Styhead Tarn and Seathwaite Fellmoderate7.0 miles
Walk 1306 Base Brown & Great Gablemod/hard6.0 miles
Walk 2046 Great End via the north west face from Seathwaitevery hard7.0 miles
Walk 1826 Green Gable & Gillercomb Horseshoe moderate5.5 miles
Walk 1692 Great End & Glaramara from Seathwaitemod/hard7.7 miles
Walk 3130 Scafell Pike via Esk Hause from Seathwaitemod/hard8.0 miles
Walk 3096 Glaramara & Allen Crags from Seathwaitemoderate8.1 miles
Walk 2182 Styhead Tarn & Sprinkling Tarn from Seathwaitemoderate5.6 miles
Walk 1245 Castle Crag & Grangeeasy/mod6.0 miles

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