Great Gable and your need to know guide on the Wainwright


Wainwright Number:

Western Lakes

OS Map:
Explorer map OL4

Great Gable is 899m high or 2949ft tall. 

This Wainwright is located in the western Fells of the Lake District.

You can head up to Great Gable via a few different routes. The easiest is from Sty Head, and you can get here from good paths from both Wasdale and Seathwaite in the Lakes. 

You will need Explorer map OL4.

There are many Wainwrights alongside Great Gable in the Lake District. Some of those include Green Gable, Base Brown, and Kirk Fell. 

At the top of Great Gable is a rocky outcrop and a memorial plaque to those who have lost their lives in the war.

Facts about Great Gable

Great Gable offers some interesting facts for anyone who is willing to read and learn about them. Here’s just some of what we have learnt on the fell over the time we’ve been here and read about the Lake District.

- Great Gable has cliffs on its South face and these are known as the Napes. The Napes Needle is one of the most important origins in the history of rock climbing. In June 1886 Walter Parry Haskett Smith ascended the now graded hard severe rock. This made history in English rock climbing.

- There is a plaque on the summit of Great Gable which was set on the top to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Fell and Rock climbing club in World War One. There is also a remembrance service held on the top of Great Gable each year to remember them.

- Here is a strange but interesting fact for you too. This mountain is one of the top fells to have ashes scattered on. It might be because of its central overlook in the Lake District and incredible views around the heart of the Lakes.

How high is the Wainwright? (m/ft)

Great Gable is 899m high or 2949ft. It is the seventh-highest Wainwright in the Lake District and sits just above Pillar and below Bowfell on the table.

Where is Great Gable located?

This Wainwright of Great Gable is located in the Western Fells of the Lake District. It lies next to Kirk Fell and Green Gable with Windy Gap being the main path that connects them all together. It’s the perfect name for this col as the wind really blows through this gap.

A little word of warning too. If you are walking up or mainly down the path of Windy Gap please be careful. It is loose scree most of the way down and in dry and wet conditions it can be slippery. Hazel very much sat and slid down the most of this route on her backside. Just for the constant slipping and balancing act that she was trying to hold onto.

So how hard is Great Gable to climb and which routes can you take?

There are several routes for climbing the fell. For us when we walked to the top of this Wainwright we started off from Honister Pass. It was a gruelling day walk and one that we won’t forget in a hurry. I remember walking the route at the same time Wimbledon was on the TV. I had said to Hazel on the way back to Honister Slate mine, that if we had to grade the walk it would have been a five-set game.

We had laughed and it really did feel as though the day had taken its toll on us, but would highly recommend the route for sure. It takes you from Grey Knotts to Brandreth and Base Brown, before Green Gable, Great Gable, and finally the last summit of the day on Kirk Fell. It’s a full day walk but so worth it.

You can also start from Seathwaite and Wasdale Head as well. And these routes will take you along some really scenic paths to make it to the summit as well. As and when we do these routes ourselves, we’ll update you on how we rate them to Honister start point.

"It is the undisputed overlord of the group hills to which it belongs, and its superior height is emphasised tremendously by the deep gulf separating it from the Scafells and allowing an impressive view that reveals the whole of its half-mile altitude as an unremitting and unbroken pyramid." Alfred Wainwright

How long does it take to climb the Fell?

Climbing or walking up Great Gable will take you at least five or six hours for a round trip from any of the above starting points. If you add more of the fells onto the walk then this will add more time on too. But we’d allow a good half a day walking to really make the most of the time of the tops of the Wainwrights. And to enjoy the views from all around the Lakeland as well.

Are the paths good climbing up Great Gable?

The paths are mainly good going towards Great Gable but the likes of Windy Gap and the rocky steps up the summit itself can cause some difficultly. Always wear appropriate footwear and take your time on any section that you feel challenging.

If you feel as though you are out of your depth at any point on this walk, or on any other fell in the Lake District, then you should turn around. Always look after your safety first. And what feels comfortable to one person might not to another.

But if you follow a good map and have a compass with you then you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding and locating any of the paths up to the fell.

Check out the weather on Great Gable right here

Windy Gap on Great Gable Wainwright in the Lake District
Windy Gap on Great Gable Wainwright in the Lake District

Best parking for Great Gable

The best parking for starting this fell walk would have to be from Honister Slate mine, Seathwaite or Wasdale head. All of them have free parking available. This is mainly on the side of the road and can be taken up quickly in the summer months.

So get there early is the only advice we can give you, to avoid disappointment and adding more time onto your walk trying to find somewhere to park up.

What is at the summit?

At the top of Great Gable is a memorial plaque which was placed up there in 2013 after the original was taken down. The top of the mountain has boulders scattered around and at the top of the rocky outcrop is a summit cairn. The summit of the fell can feel quite extensive and in low cloud or poor weather, it would be easy to get disorientated.

So take care when you are climbing Great Gable in poor conditions as it can prove to be more challenging than you first think.

Great Gable in the Lake District
View looking towards Great Gable from Kirk Fell

What are the views from the top of Great Gable?

Although the Wainwright is located in the western fells of the Lake District. Its views from the summit are outstanding. This is because it is one of the highest points in the western fells and so it gives the views out overlooking everything else.

You can see both Windermere and Wast Water from the summit along with the fells like Scafell Pike in the south, to the Helvellyn ranges in the east. Looking north from the top of Great Gable on a clear day you will be able to see the back end of the Newlands Valley Horseshoe which includes Dale Head. And then the views towards the east include the likes of Pillar and Red Pike further north of this too.

You really do get a central panoramic view looking across throughout the Lakelands. And it feels just that little bit special to be up there.

Which OS map do you need to climb
the Fell?

The ordinance survey map that you need for climbing Great Gable is OL4 Explorer map or if you’d like to follow Alfred Wainwright's footsteps you can do so too. For this, you will need his Western Fells guide to the Lakeland Fells. This is book seven in his series.

Where to stay B&Bs, Campsites, etc

There are some hotels at Wasdale head that you can stay at for walking up Great Gable. In addition to this, there are several youth hostels around the area that can make a good starting point from too.

You may also want to consider wild camping as the mountain itself is away from most villages and towns in the Lake District. Therefore, you’d really get the sense of being out there in peace and quiet. But always check the weather to make sure that you are prepared for the drop in temperatures throughout the night. Especially in the colder months as it can be dangerous to go unprepared.

True Freedom Seekers
Thank you for taking the time to read our page. We hope you have enjoyed the information which we have for you. Please feel free to reach out to us about anything regarding the Lake District. Or leave a comment below. Happy Wainwright bagging.

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