Seathwaite Fell, Great Gable to Dale Head plus Castle Crag

Forum » Walk Reports » Lake District

By SheepFarmer on 06/10/19 at 3:32pm (last edited 06/10/19 at 3:48pm)

Hills walked:
Seathwaite Fell (Wainwright summit) (Wainwright, Birkett, Fellranger, and Synge)
Seathwaite Fell (Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Great Gable (Wainwright, Birkett, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP, High Hill of Britain, Clem, Sim, Fellranger, Synge, and Tump)
Green Gable (Wainwright, Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Brandreth (Wainwright, Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Grey Knotts (Wainwright, Birkett, Nuttall, Fellranger, and Synge)
Dale Head (Wainwright, Birkett, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP, Clem, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Castle Crag (Wainwright, Fellranger, Synge, and Tump)
Date started:21/09/2019
Distance:24.3 km or 15.1 miles
Ascent:1669m or 5476ft
Descent:1669m or 5476ft
Start OSGB:NY256139
Time taken:9:59

Day 5 & the last full day of my holiday & I’d saved the biggest walk till last, over 7 fells big & small they were Seathwaite Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Brandrath, Grey Knotts, Dale Head and Castle Crag. When planning Castle Crag was optional, plus I knew the route had a few cut short options including ending at the Ramblers Bar in Rosthwaite if I were running late where I’d been going for some of my evening meals, but I got back to the campsite with enough time to at least wash lunch box & drink bottles before showering & then going to the pub as normal. The one thing about camping and walking out for evening meal is that after mighty walks at my speed it keeps you moving a bit to stop the legs stiffening to much. Although Richard the farmer & campsite owner thinks I’m a bit mad with the length & speed of my days. Despite staying at the site a few times now I still haven't taken up his offer to bring a load of Herdwick sheep back with me.

Track GPX

Walk profile

Paths on this walk vary between the very obvious like the engineered path up Great Gable that is stones set step like, to no greater than a sheep track going up Seathwaite Fell, my recommendation for the gully part is to take it in ascent 1st time at least as what you go up is very steep at a 53% grade although thankfully short at 0.1 mile, although it’s grass there are stones sticking out of the grass that provided more security of grip. Note also that once you reach top of the gully there are crags that drop off on your left with another gully cutting into them. I was also good & didn’t interfere with the rain gauge lower down on the fell side. The path down from Great Gable was pure stone scree with odd rock outcropping whereas going up from Windy Gap it’s more a red sand & stone lose surface. The other notable bits off track or lack of is the small bit over from Dale Head Tarn to the top of Rigghead quarries where it’s wet & boggy and it’s a case of picking a path on the higher ground for dryness even if it’s a bit longer. Plus down through Rigghead quarries the path has been engineered like final part up Castle Crag, in that the discarded slate remains have been built up into walls in places through the sea of the rubbish material to have a clear in terms of visible path, but it’s still eroded slate under foot with no binding. Plus on the path through Rigghead you pass multiple adits & if your sensible like me you’ll go no further than the entrances. Just for a bit of fun at the last stage I crossed over the Derwent on the nice bridge & then a bit further upstream crossed back over on the stepping stones.

With no drive I was off walking even earlier than before at 7.30am, the time of day & year meant that even with a blue sky only the top ¼ of the fells on the western side were illuminated but there was a stiff wind even down in the bottom. This wind kept things cooler through the day but I know the temps must have been high because I was in short sleeves most of the time. However as I went higher the wind became predictably worse and on the top of Great Gable it was enough to interfere with walking by effecting stability, I was putting my walking pole out to the side at quite an angle to act as prop, it also meant that with the rocky ground that required care in foot placement things were I felt entering a risk zone in terms of sensible safety, so although I hunkered down behind a boulder for lunch part 1, I then used it as a prop for me when taking a chunk of pics rather than move all around the summit area & out to its edges to get all the best views. If I recall correctly the early radio Cumbria weather forecast had said gusts to 50mph (I tried searching the web for some data but can’t find any so if anyone has it I’d like to know what the conditions were). I did take a pic at Windy Gap of my walking pole hanging at a 40 degree angle from the strap round my wrist just so I was sure I’d rememberer. Slowly during the day the wind eased as it was still a strong wind by time I got to Dale Head but not as bad as it had been on Seathwaite Fell. I’m just glad it wasn’t the previous day that was windy as I’d have skipped Hall’s Fell Ridge.

I had lunch part 2 in a wind shelter on Green Gable joining 3 other people who left me to go on to Great Gable but one lady returned shortly as she hadn’t liked the look of the path down to Windy Gap and was going to wait for the others on the way back, I said she was sensible but that I thought the one down from Great Gable was harder.

Pic 1

Just 0.2 miles in the sun on the top of Thornythwaite Fell & Glaramara, the earth scar heading up but then bending left of Thornythwaite was from a small hydro electric project using the waters of Coombe Gill.

Pic 2

About 1/3 of the way from leaving the Styhead path to top of the gully, Seathwaite Fell bathed in sun, the gully way up is in the cleft just to the right of the prominent rock knoll of Aaron Crag

Pic 3

By time you reach the bottom of the gully you’ve come up a fair way & get a good view down Borrowdale still in shadow at it’s more enclosed upper end

Pic 4

From the true summit, not Wainwright's summit of Seathwaite Fell, Lingmell just left of centre & its impenetrable faces

Pic 5

Same place, looking over Sty Head to Yewbarrow in Wasdale

Pic 6

Same place again, looking back along the top of Seathwaite Fell with Base Brown sticking in from the left plus Blencathra & Skiddaw on the distant skyline

Pic 7

Midway between Sprinkling & Styhead Tarns, the escarpment of Great End rising up from Sprinkling Tarn, with Esk Pike just poking up left

Pic 8

Approaching Sty Head, Great & Green Gable

Pic 9

The engineered path up Great Gable, it’s 1 mile with an average grade of 30%

Pic 10

About 3/5ths of the way up, looking down on Seathwaite Fell with a full view of Styhead Tarn & a sliver of Sprinkling Tarn below Allen Crags on the ridge behind that lowers then goes up a bit to Glaramara

Pic 11

From the summit of Great Gable, Wast Water & it’s surrounding fells that I’d been on the previous year

Pic 12

A slightly different position on the summit, L to R we have Kirk Fell & Pillar, Ennerdale, High Style & Haystacks , Crummock Water, Grassmoor & Robinson plus many smaller fells

Pic 13

At the top of the path I took down, front to back Green Gable, my ascent end of Seathwaite Fell just showing then the ridges with Glaramara, Ullescarf & finally Helvellyn on the skyline

Pic 14

From starting my ascent of Green Gable, anti clockwise round the flat topped Kirk Fell, Pillar , Black Crag the knoll on the ridge to Scoat Fell and on to Red Pike (Wasdale) mostly hidden by Kirk Fell, they'd formed part of a walk I did last year I just wish the visibility had been like this years instead of in cloud most of the way.

Pic 15

From the top of Green Gable, I’ve already named most so I’ll skip them it’s just Mellbreak far left end of Crummock Water & Low Fell sitting across its end

Pic 16

From a few hundred meters out from Honister slate works & looking over them from my descent of Grey Knots, the gentle side of Dale Head where I was going next & not a shadow in sight mid afternoon

Pic 17

Starting up to Dale Head, the mighty face of Fleetwith Pike and the active mine workings road

Pic 18

About halfway up, looking over Seatoller Fell to Glaramara, with the tops of Bowfell & Esk Pike just poking up on the right & High Rise left of centre on the skyline

Pic 19

At Dale Head, looking down the length of Newlands valley, with Hindscarth on its left & the Cat Bells to High Spy ridge on the right, also there in the mid distance going up left from the floor of the valley is Rowling End then the concave slope on up to Causey Pike, a bit more left is Grisedale Pike that’s actually behind, finally sitting dead ahead in the far distance is Skiddaw & it’s fellow fells.

Pic 20

Looking east over the smart cairn of Dale Head to many many fells, but to give point of reference White Side is the one directly over the cairns top & Helvellyn the 3rd high point right of it.

Pic 21

Looking down from the top of the Rigghead quarries, the path zig zags down past the old spoil heaps, buildings & adits (unseen in pic) with the hamlet of Rosthwaite sitting in the green fields of the valley floor, with Watendlath Fell behind

Pic 22

The steep semi engineered path up Castle Crag

Pic 23

From the top of Castle Crag, Derwent Water & Skiddaw and its fellows from Ullock Pike left to Lonscale Fell right all of which I’d walked over on day 3

Pic 24

From the little flat promontory on the upper slopes of Castle Crag, just a panorama looking up Borrowdale and you can name everything.

By SheepFarmer on 08/10/19 at 12:17pm

Re my comment about finding weather data, the best I've come up with so far is this lakedistrict-weather that says the wind was 24mph max at Portinscale.

WalkLakes recognises that hill walking, or walking in the mountains, is an activity with a danger of personal injury or death.
Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.