Sunday, 9 April 2017

Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable & Great Gable

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Route: Honister Hause, Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Gillercomb Head, Green Gable, Windy Gap, Great Gable, Beck Head, Moses' Trod, Fleetwith, Tramway, Honister Hause

Date: 09/04/2017
From: Honister Hause

Parking: Honister Hause
Start Point: Honister Hause
Region: Western Fells

Route length: 5.8 miles (9.3 km)
Time taken: 03:25
Average speed: 1.7 mph
Ascent: 798m
Descent: 808m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Grey Knotts (697m), Brandreth (715m), Green Gable (801m), Great Gable (899m)

Other Summits: None

Other points of interest: Honsister, Windy Gap

Honister Hause is a great starting point for a number of fells walks in the area, most notably Great Gable, just a few miles away. Having experienced the best of Buttermere the previous day, we were back out to experience on of the best in the Lake District, repeating a rainy walk we did a few years ago. Our day would begin by climbing Grey Knotts.

Despite starting from the top of the Honister Pass, the initial start up to Grey Knotts begins with a steep climb out of the valley, gaining considerable height as you go. The morning weather was on our side, revealing some splendid morning shades being cast on Dale Head and down Seatoller Fell into Borrowdale. Sadly, it was not forecast to last.
It was a beautiful morning at Honister
Dale Head and Honister Hause
Looking down towards Seatoller
Grey Knotts was originally just the name for the trio of rock protrusions from the summit of Seatoller Fell but the name has now been attached to a separate fell. Two of the outcrops are of equal height, both bearing a cairn and one guarding the remains of an OS column.
Approaching Grey Knotts
A hazy Pillar and Hay Stacks
The back of Fleetwith Pike
Grey Knotts' summit
Leaving Grey Knotts, the view ahead is one that calls to the fell walker. The shallow rise of Brandreth backed by the towering dome of Great Gable is certainly impressive. After negotiating a short bog, Brandreth's summit stands a short distance away and we duly crossed the top, heading for Green Gable. Brandreth is best seen from Base Brown where the hanging valley of Gillercomb provides a fine foreground to Brandreth's steep eastern face.
Grey Knotts from the climb up Brandreth
Brandreth's summit
Green Gable and Great Gable ahead
Kirk Fell
Base Brown and Gillercomb
Brandreth
Gillercomb
Ennerdale
Pillar
The wind had picked up, bringing with it some cloudier weather and a significant haze that started to restrict the views a bit. The crosses Gillercomb Head and affords fine views down into Gillercomb below. Ahead, the path steadily climbs towards the summit of Green Gable.
The summit of Green Gable
Green Gable, Great Gable's lesser neighbour, has a tremendous view (on a good day) straight down Ennerdale and includes a unique profile of Pillar and its various coves. Immediately adjacent to Green Gable is the impressive rock wall of Gable Crags, the final obstacle before the summit once Windy Gap has been negotiated.
Clouds begin to fill the sky
Great Gable over Windy Gap
The final climb up Great Gable begins with an enjoyable, easy scramble followed by a steep plod up any number of well-worn routes. The summit area is strewn with rocks and boulders but the summit itself stands proud.
Looking down Aaron Slack to Sty Head Tarn
The steep ascent of Great Gable
The fell is so well regarded amongst the rock climbing community that there is a prominent plaque set on the summit rock commemorating the 20 members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who died during the First World War.
Great Gable's summit
The refurbished plaque
A large area of land, including Great Gable, was bought by the club (an ambitious undertaking at the time) and subsequently donated to the National Trust as a memorial to these members. The plaque was dedicated in 1924 by Geoffrey Winthrop Young (a notable British climber and author) in front of around 500 people. The plaque was recently refurbished with the original now heading to a permanent location in Wasdale.
The plaque in-situ
In all honesty, thanks to the low cloud, there's not much to write about the rest of the walk but I'll exchange route information for a short story.

We took a north-westerly bearing from the summit and made our way down the steep, slippery northwestern ridge. Even with the GPS it was a challenge to keep in a straight line but we eventually dropped into the pass at Beck Head, just west of where we intended to be. Moses' Trod would lead us back to Honister and is the source of an intriguing tale.
Descending off the north west ridge
The supposed path owes its existence to a quarryman known as Moses Rigg. Before the establishment of a proper road network in the district, he devised the route as the shortest way of conveying slate from the quarries at Honister Pass to Wasdale Head from where the valley road leads to the port of Ravenglass. But slate was not the only thing his pony-drawn sled carried.

Hidden among the loads, he concealed his own illegally distilled whisky, which he smuggled for sale on his travels. The remains of a hut high on Gable Crag have been linked to Moses and suggested as a site of one of his stills - it is located in a very exposed position midway up the buttress. The site is known amongst climbers as 'Smugglers' Retreat'.
Emerging from the clouds
Moses' Trod
Clouds swirl around Grey Knotts
The old tramway
As mentioned previously, Moses' Trod leads right back to Honister - it was only once we'd reached the old tramway that we managed to get out of the clouds and grab a few more pictures. Ultimately Moses' Trod finds its way to the old Honister tramway which once connected Dubs Quarry to Honister Hause and makes for an easy way back to the car.
Honister Hause
Decisions
Honister Crag