The "direct route" to Base Brown looks fearsome, and plain nasty. Shattered rocks, one the size of a country cottage, lies menacingly around the base of a cliff. No obvious way through the crags. Yet up close a clear enough path without any difficulties traverses below the cliff and sweeps up the back to climb the ridge behind to the summit. The view of the rock is awesome. The views down to Seathwaite are tremendous. If you, a walker, can clamber up the path next to Sour Milk Gill then you can climb Base Brown directly as we describe here in this circular walk.
From Base Brown the walk joins the caravan of trekkers climbing out of the hanging valley of Gillercombe, to climb firstly over Green Gable, and across Windy Gap to Great Gable. The way up Great Gable requires a little scrambling, and here there are plenty of hand and footholds with lots of route choices. The views from Great Gable are legendary. The route then heads down to Sty Head, across, and up to Sprinkling Tarn. Turning left here just before the tarn to find a faint and meandering path across the moist undulating top of Seathwaite Fell. The Wainwright top is at the far end and is not the highest point but is the rocky outcrop most appropriately described as the spiritual summit as it overlooks Seathwaite.
Arguably the most difficult section of this walk is to get down off Seathwaite Fell safely if a return to Sprinkling Tarn and Sty Head is to be avoided - which in poor weather is the most sensible thing to do. To the north and north east lies Aaron Crags which are not for us. Steep grass slopes on the north east side is the only practical way. There are only rare glimpses of path however two shallow gullies drop down between rocky outcrops and grassy knolls, and with care provide a straightforward descent.
Seathwaite's major claim to fame is that it has the most rainfall of anywhere in England.
There is some parking along the Seathwaite roadside, however, it does get very busy at holiday times, and weekends especially in the summer. Please park considerately and not obstruct access for tractors, fire engines, or field entrances.
There are also two bus services which run from Keswick past the end of the road down to Seathwaite:
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Seathwaite Fell, Seathwaite Fell South Top, Seathwaite Fell (Wainwright summit), Green Gable, Great Gable, and Base Brown; and includes 4 Wainwrights, 5 Birketts, 4 Hewitts, 5 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, and 1 HuMP.
If you need accommodation we have details of 11 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Continue to the end of the tarmac road, and straight ahead into the farm. Approximate half-way down the row of buildings on the right is a gateway with footpath signs leading into a lane. Turn right here, pass through the buildings and on into the lane, and cross the footbridge at the far end.
Bear left and start climbing to an odd ladder stile across the wall. Continue climbing up the steeply pitched and sometimes slippery path through the tall summer bracken alongside the cascades and waterfalls of Sour Milk Gill.
After some minor scrambly sections you reach the wall. Turn left, then right to go through the gate in the wall.
Continue on the stone pitched path. As you bear left away from the gill watch for a small cairn on your right, about 200m (220 yards) from the gate. Turn left here and cross slightly boggy ground aiming for the large sloping boulder below the cliff. As you approach the boulder you may manage to pick up a faint path zigzagging up the the fellside to the bottom of the cliff face. Either way, bear slightly right to climb up to the cliff.
Above you is the prominent Hanging Stone. A clear path traverses left across the bottom of the cliff, passing a tree growing out of a rock, dropping slightly, and then climbing to start round the back of the cliff.
The path becomes faint and turns sharp right along a shelf to then zigzag up steep grass slopes to gain the ridgeline above the crags. Bear left to climb a knoll on the ridge, and then the final slopes to the now rather understated summit of Base Brown.
Continue over the summit of Base Brown, bearing right a little to drop down slightly boggy ground to the depression where the path coming up from the hanging valley of Gillercombe joins.
Continue ahead on the wide and rocky path, cairns start to mark the way. At the top, as the gradient eases and the cairned path from Honister joins in from the right, bear left. The cairns seem to have been multiplying with one every few yards. Climb to the cairn and close-by wind shelter at the summit of Green Gable.
Across Windy Gap the path ascending Great Gable can clearly be seen. So continue ahead, dropping down the ruddy red stained and slightly loose path to the cairn on the col of Windy Gap. Cross, and follow the path climbing steadily opposite. Bearing right the path is seemingly halted by a wall of rocky steps. Clamber up the steps, about mid-height bear left a little to pick up the cairned path climbing through the steep boulder fields.
Reaching the domed top, bear left to the summit outcrop of Great Gable.
Pause to pay respect at the Fell and Rock Climbing Club memorial plaque. On Remembrance Sunday at 11am the club holds a service here remembering its members and others who have perished in conflicts around the world.
Bearing left from the direction of ascent pick up the cairned path dropping down to Sty Head. Beware of just spotting any old cairn and following the associated path. There are cairns and paths in all directions. Sty Head is south east, the path initially heads east a little before bearing right and south eastwards. Sprinkling Tarn can be seen across the gap. Follow the cairned path down short sections of pitched path and loose gravel to arrive at the stretcher box on Sty Head.
Continue ahead, across the little boggy patch on the stepping stones and bear slightly left to the path. Climb through a rocky outcrop and continue on the gravel path. The path bears right and carries on climbing alongside a small gill. After another 450m (495 yards) you reach the remote setting of Sprinkling Tarn.
Immediately before the tarn turn left. Climb the rocky grassy outcrops and pick up a faint meandering path initially above the tarn shore line, and then heading away northwards. It all gets a bit 'make it up as you go along' from here. We found a path, but a fellow walker who went over the the Birkett to the left of the wide ridge hardly found any paths at all. It's probably down to expectations!
Walk around the numerous small tarns and boggy patches heading generally NNE. The ground starts gradually dropping and the Wainwright top of the fell comes into view.
Just before the rocky outcrop is a tarn surrounded by boggy ground which it is best to give a wide berth either side. Once beside the summit cairn perched on a rocky outcrop do you understand its significance. Overlooking Seathwaite and with fine views all the way to Keswick and Skiddaw, it really is a fabulous situation. Far better than a rocky outcrop, barely any higher back along the ridge with enclosed views to more stately fells.
Turn left from the rocky summit outcrop, past the tarns on a step of plateau to your right, ahead some resemblance of path may be found. Nearing the edge any hint of path disappears although the way down passing grassy knolls and the occasional outcrop beside the gully can at last be seen. Descend the grass carefully as a slip wouldn't be fun. Occasional glimpses of path may be found but they soon peter out.
Eventually arriving at the bottom of the slope, and the Sty Head path, turn right. Follow along this clear and latterly stone pitched path, to the woodland by Taylor Gill Force, which can be heard but not seen. Then bearing right, drop down through a gate, and on to Stockley Bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left to follow the track back through a number of gates to Seathwaite Farm and the roadside parking.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via the Corridor Route||63m (69 yards) away|
|Grey Knotts and Brandreth circular from Honister||1.7km (1.0 miles) away|
|The Glaramara Wainwrights||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Eagle Crag, Sergeant's Crag and Ullscarf||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Skinny Dipping in Blackmoss Pot||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Millican Dalton's Cave - Castle Crag, Borrowdale||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Castle Crag - Borrowdale||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Dock Tarn, Great Crag, and Watendlath, from Rosthwaite||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Fleetwith Pike via Fleetwith Edge||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|A Short Walk to The Bowder Stone||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Lodore Falls, Watendlath, Grange Fell, and the Bowder Stone circular||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Haystacks||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011