Great Gable via the North West Ridge

Link to map for Great Gable via the North West RidgeThis walk takes us up the very fine north-west ridge of Great Gable, and up to one of the finest viewpoints in the entire Lake District at the summit of the fell. On a good day this is a very busy fell, but our route manages to avoid the crowds for at least some of the route, most especially on the descent, where we follow the valley route from Sty Head to Wasdale instead of the very busy path further up the fellside.

Ascent: 2,700ft
Length: 5.6 miles
Map: SW
Last Walked: 17 October 2009

We start from the village green car park at Wasdale Head.

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Great Gable from Wasdale Head Follow the small track that leaves the north-eastern corner of the car park (away from the road), and follow it past the tiny church and on towards a farm.
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Follow the path through the farm-yard, obeying any right-of-way signs. After passing through a small gate we reach the path that runs along the foot of Kirk Fell. Turn right and follow this path as it runs up the valley.
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After a short distance we cross a footbridge over Gable Beck. On the far side of the bridge turn left and follow the path that climbs up the south-west ridge of Great Gable.
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Western slopes of Great GableWe follow this path for about a third of a mile, until we reach a point where the main path continues up the ridge while a minor path leaves to the left, running alongside the beck. Turn left onto this path and follow it up the bottom of the valley between Kirk Fell and Great Gable.
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Wasdale from Gable BeckTowards the top of this valley the path rather disappears. At this point cut across the slope to the right, continuing up the valley as you go, until reaching the main path. Follow this path past the head of the pass between Mosedale and Ennerdale, and onto a rocky outcropping that marks the lower end of the north-west ridge of Great Gable. At this point turn right onto the path that climbs up the ridge. This starts as a clear path, before becoming something of a scramble amongst large boulders, before eventually reaching the summit.
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Our route on takes us straight over the summit, heading south-east from the cairn onto the path that runs down to Sty Head. The line of cairns takes us a little to the north of the right of way marked on OS maps, and provides great views towards Styhead Tarn. A clear path soon develops, which takes us to the left of Dry Tarn, hidden just off the path, and then down to Sty Head.

View from Great Gable towards BorrowdaleSummit of Great GableView south-east from Great GableWestmorland Cairn, Great Gable

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A number of very busy paths meet at Sty Head, but we are going to ignore all of them. Our path down Great Gable passes to the side of a box of rescue equipment and reaches a crossroads. Turn right at this junction, but then after a very short distance turn left onto a very minor path (looking more like a swamp) at the start. This path quickly develops into a very clear path that runs down a small gully, and then zig-zags its way down into the upper reaches of Wasdale. A number of different paths run down the valley - the clearest runs around the upper slopes, crosses one beck and then runs down the valley towards a junction between Lingmell Beck and Piers Gill. Cross from the left to right bank of Lingmell Beck, and then follow the increasingly clear path as it runs back down the valley, rejoining our original route at the bridge over Gable Beck. After that we retrace our steps back to the car park.

Styhead Tarn from Great Gable Upper Wasdale

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