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Great Gable

  • ‘Must do’ Lake District mountain
  • Good scramble alongside Napes Needle
  • Views down 4 Lakeland valleys


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Great Gable is a ‘climbers’ mountain, possibly┬áthe best and probably┬áthe most famous in the Lake District. For walkers attempting Great Gable this means one thing – the route up is going to be steep and in the case of Great Gable unremittingly so. It is possible to avoid the worst by starting at Honister Pass but this is a bit of a cheat and still involves a rocky pull from Windy Gap. The other 2 main routes of ascent are hard work, whether the start point is Wasdale or Borrowdale.

However there is one route which simply must be taken by anyone who wants to really experience this magnificent mountain. …that of the Climbers Traverse and the Needles Ridge. The traverse crosses the southern slopes of Gable on a visible but ‘loose’ path with stupendous views down Wasdale and up over the Napes and the Sphinx’s Head. I prefer then ‘threading the needle’ ie: taking the direct route on an initial thin but then non-existent track below Napes Needle. This is Grade 3 scrambling but can be avoided by following the traverse over loose scree and some grade 2 scrambling all the way round to the col under Kirkfell. Whichever route you decide on you will be in the most spectacular rock scenery within the Lake District.

Recommend: Follow the the route north over Green Gable and Base Brown before dropping steeply to Seathwaite Farm and a well earned pint.

Download GPX file

Great Gable map


All maps are copyright of Where2Walk ©2016

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL4 The English Lakes North West. Buy Map
Start Point: NY 235122. The road to Seathwaite farm has plenty of roadside parking even on the busiest of days.
Height to Climb: 864ms (2,834 feet)
Terrain: Rough tracks on all but the Base Brown Ridge. Hard on the feet but exhilarating even if you take on the Napes scramble.
Eating & Drinking: There is a small tea shop at Seathwaite farm, otherwise the Yew Tree is a mile down the road at Seatoller.
Similar Walks Nearby: Scafell Pike Classic
Glaramara in deepest Borrowdale
Great Crag from Watendlath
Places to Stay: Royal Oak, Borrowdale


  1. Mountain Mike from Stockton On Tees says:

    I was here four weeks ago doing a scouting mission to bring Gav for his fifth and sixth Wainwright,all will recall a superb day on the fells,but today as Gav and I arrive at Seathwaite we are alone as the heavens have opened up.Waterproofs on and we are on our way up the path next to Sourmilk Gill Falls,the going is tough as all of the path/track is flooded,Gav went off in front as keen as ever I stick to my tried and tested pace,as I reach the scramble I am struggeling getting a grip as the rain is rakeing the open rock after a slight change of direction Im passed it Im soaked already.After a few good pics we are at the top,and heading for base brown visibility is at 100m and closing in and the rain is relentless Gav has said his boots are full of water already my Mammut Raichles are holding there own,as we approach the turn off for Green Gable we are blasted by 40mph winds and the soaking continued till we get to some cover at the Cairn on Green Gable.We are soaked to the skin and the wind that strong that we can hardly stand,we quickly drop down into Windy Gap as Gav is at the bottom I shout do you want to go to Gt Gable he shouts no,my decision to call off this attempt is hard one but as the conditions are treacherous I call it off and we hurriedly drop down to Styhead Tarn and within a half an hour we are in a safer place on our way back to Seathwaite we will be back and Gav still gets Green Gable for his Wainwright Map of the Lakes .

  2. Mountain Mike from Stockton On Tees says:

    Today its Great Gable via Green Gable my first time using the Sour Milk Gill route,steep trek from the foot bridge and a little scramble before I reach the wall at the top(some great photos taken),weather is superb.Through the gate its a nice trek to the top of Green Gable two lots of fellow walkers ahead of me,quick stop for some photos of Haystacks,High Crag,Stile etc,weather is superb,drop down to the bottom of Green Gable to the ascent on Great Gable nice path to go round to a surprise 300 ft grade one scramble this is what I came for.Once at the top two hours and twenty mins later Im thankful for putting on the insect repellent lol the Mozzies are out lol,quick break at the top more photos and Im heading down towards Styhead there are a few peoples on the way up,I did speak to David from Ormskirk with whom I had a nice chat and not forgetting to tell him about the Mozzies.Path is good going down and Im soon at the Stretcher Box,good lot of people here I turn back to Seathwaite and have a little run past the Tarn looks like its been wet up here recently passed a few more walkers and Im soon back at the Farm four hours I feel a little chuffed as its boiling hot this is the best weather I have seen after eleven visits to The Lakes lol ………….now I need some after sun cream.

  3. Andrew Turvey says:

    Hi. I walked this with my girlfriend and my dog from Seathwaite clockwise. Turning at the base of Great Gable to climb that and returning via Green Gable but traversing the lower slope of Base Brown since it started to pour down with rain. All was good but on descending towards Seathwaite the path becomes uncertain in two places and with wet rocks this was a hazardous descent. Each time refinding the path with difficulty. I think you should make this known since it is a nasty surprise at the end of a tiring day. It wasn’t suitable for the dog or anyone not prepared to scramble down steep wet rocks.

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