BB0732  Gable and a Great Deal More

Tuesday 23rd October 2007

Sometimes things can be too long in the planning.  In the beginning Stan had a plan.  He shared his thoughts with Bryan and then went on holiday.  Bryan told me about the plan, plus a cunning modification to take advantage of having a second car that could seat seven people.  Then he went on holiday and would not be joining us.  Stan returned home in time to receive an e-mail from me about the plan.  But we did not actually speak until the two travel groups eventually met up at Seathwaite.  It soon became clear that the plan had changed out of all recognition from that envisaged by Stan and a new one had to be improvised.  Which is one way of explaining why, probably for the first time in Bootboy history, we claimed one Wainwright twice on the same walk!  But even with a new plan, flexibility is the key word.  Which is one way of explaining way today’s route is one of the more eccentric we have undertaken!


It was a stunning morning as we travelled up the A591, recently voted Britain’s favourite drive.  

Similarly as we passed along Derwent Water but as we approached Borrowdale, you could see that the high central hills were still covered in cloud.  

I dropped Philip and Tony at Seathwaite, encouraging them to go into the farm café for a cup of tea whilst I returned to Seatoller to await Ian, Martin and Stan.

Once they arrived we went in convoy to the slate mines at the cold and windy top of Honistor where we left Ian’s car and all returned to Seathwaite.  

By this time there was hardly any parking space left yet the farm café had not opened and consequently Philip and Tony had had rather a cold wait for us. 

I thought hill farmers were supposed to be hard up.  This one forewent a lot of revenue today.

Slate mines fountain

Seathwaite mist clearing (Base Brown on right)

The revised plan placed Base Brown as the first objective so we followed the steep trail up Sour Milk Gill for some distance before cutting off left to take Base Brown by the nose, near the over hanging rock.  This was quite exciting at times- some rather tricky scrambling but fortunately not exposed.  Hard work, nonetheless.

Once on the summit we could see Green Gable and Great Gable emerging from the mist. It was a simple ridge walk to Green Gable but then the serious effort started.  

Great Gable and Ennerdale from Green Gable with Haystacks, Brandreth and Steel Knotts

The King of Gable title undoubtedly goes to Tony.  I could not believe how quickly he got up that uncompromisingly steep climb.  Stan explained that he had promised Tony lunch at the top, which motivated him, and then when he started to flag, he saw me approaching, thought I was trying to reel him in and set off with renewed vigour.  Actually he need not have worried.  I was in no condition to reel anyone in.

Britain's favourite view reversed

Scawfell Pikes

Great Gable team  picture

From the summit we could see down Wasdale (us becoming the subjects of Britain’s favourite view), Ennerdale and whatever they call the valley with Buttermere and Crummock Water.

However the Scawfells were still covered in cloud.The novel feature of the plan that we were following was that having dropped down to Windy Gap from Green Gable and climbed up the steep path to Great Gable, we now had to retrace our steps to reclaim Green Gable

Once there, Stan had a bright idea.  “It’s such a lovely day”, he said, “why don’t we go over to Haystacks once we have done Brandreth and Steel Knotts?”  As this would involve a huge dogleg and a lot more climbing, I thought he must have got altitude sickness so to appease him I said, “Why don’t we defer a decision until we reach Steel Knotts?”

Brandreth and Steel Knotts proved such an easy stroll that when Stan repeated the suggestion, no-one disagreed, despite the fact we were then less than one easy mile away from the car.

On the way to Haystacks we came across a brave lone soul who was making his awkward way back to Honister and was not sure he was on the right path.  It turned out he was an amputee and had found the heather tussocks on Haystacks very hard going on his artificial leg.

We had to drop down more than I had anticipated before getting on to Haystacks but, Stan, I take it all back- it was an inspired suggestion.  It is lovely hill.  If it were not for the steep drops on the north side, it would be a wonderful playground for kids.  It just calls out for Cowboys and Indians or wide games.

Steel Knotts, Brandreth, Green and Great Gable from Haystacks

Stan really pressed on up to the summit and halfway up the final climb he suddenly accelerated.  Is he trying to burn me off? I wondered.  I just about clung on to his boot heels and then, when we got to the top, he complained about having found the ascent hard work.  I am not surprised- talk about self-inflicted pain.  The summit is entertainingly rocky with splendid views.

High Crag from Haystacks

Our return took us past Innominate Tarn, looking delightful in the late afternoon sunshine, where we paid our respects to AW.  


Innominate Tarn


Buttermere and Crummock Water

Slate mines transport?

We then traversed on a real mountain path above Green Crag before discovering that we had yet more climbing to do to get up to the disused Dubs quarry.  We followed the old Tramway up and then down to the Slate mines car park and Ian’s 7 seater Disco, in which to return to Seathwaite.

It was a stunning day and a most enjoyable walk despite the hordes of people that we encountered, particularly on the Gables and Haystacks.  And the spontaneity of route making certainly added to the event.

Don, 23rd October 2007


Distance: 8.8 miles  (Anquet)

Height climbed: 4,232 feet (Anquet)

Wainwrights:  Base Brown, Green Gable (x2!), Great Gable, Brandreth, Grey Knotts, Haystacks

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fell Book Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!




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Bryan has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which Bootboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of Bootboys.  

To download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.  

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


BOOT boys

This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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