Where is this walk?

Kirk Fell and Great Gable

May 29, 2024

Kirk Fell and Great Gable are two of the giants that dominate the head of Wasdale. The climb from Wasdale head is steep, in places including some mild scrambling, but rewarded by some stunning views and a real sense of achievement.

The Walk

Great Gable is a popular mountain and can be climbed from a number of different places. As well as Wasdale there is an easy ascent from Honister Pass to the north and also a more interesting climb from Borrowdale via Styhead Tarn and Napes Needle. However the magnificence of the mountain can only be really appreciated by the approaches from Wasdale.

Kirk Fell is a little different to Great Gable. It is nearly as high (804m/2,631ft) but lacking a little in its graceful outline. However it is still a fine mountain and makes a hard but enjoyable walk when combined with Great Gable. Kirk Fell is different to Gable in that it is rarely climbed from anywhere but Wasdale. It is tucked in to the valley making approaches from elsewhere longer and arduous. It is also one of the reasons it is a rarely climbed Wainwright despite its height. I enjoy it, particularly the scrambly ascent and the small tarn near its summit.

The best approach to both is via Mosedale and Black Sail Pass. At the pass turn right and continue up the rough path towards Kirk Fell. A short scramble in the mid section leads on to a large summit area with two higher rocky promontories. The descent and climb to Great Gable are steep, a little eroded but perfectly safe. My prefence on this walk is to return to the col between them after climbing Great Gable. An initially rocky path turns in to a delightful grassy descent with views over Wastwater and beyond. A fine end to the day.


It is worth staying (either camping or in the hotel) at Wasdale Head. The campsite is a turn up arrangement and is basic but it is only staying here that you appreciate the full grandeur of the valley.

Navigation Tips on Kirk Fell and Great Gable

When contours merge on a map then be prepared to scramble. The climb of Kirk Fell from Black Sail is one such example. The path leads in to a chimney and although not particularly difficult it may put some off. I found it fun. Great Gable is more eroded (being more popular), the scrambling is more loose and less enjoyable.

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