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Great Gable and Kirk Fell
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Great Gable - Arrowhead Ridge

Location: Central Fells above Styhead Tarn, nr Wasdale Head.

Distance: 11km / 6.9 miles via Kirk Fell and Black Sail Pass

Scrambling Grades: Arrowhead Ridge - 2

                                Napes Needle - 2

                                Westmorland Crag - 2

                                Eagle's Nest Gully - 2/3

Route: From Wasdale Head via Moses Trod, Sty Head Tarn, Great Gable, Kirkfell and Black Sail Pass back to Wasdale. Alternatively, from Seathwaite via Sty Head Tarn, Great Gable, Green Gable, Base Brown and back to Seathwaite.

Assessment: A classic route amongst the best mountain scenery in the Lakes, which provides a fine contrast between an open ridge and a buttress close to the summit.

  Napes Needle
     

Napes Needle:

Napes Needle is a natural climbing monument well beyond scrambling but since it acts as a marker for better things it is only right and proper to make a pilgrimage to it and around it. After leaving Sty Head the great walls and cracks of Kern Knotts rises above the path and we thread our way through or over huge boulders that litter the path; rising on a path that crosses towards Napes Crag. After passing the red rocks that make up the scree of Great Hell Gate, we emerge under the impressive rock face of Tophet Wall; a Gable classic. Further on we cross steeper ground closer to the flying buttress of rock that forms Napes Ridges, where we take the upper fork leading steeply to the right of the base of Napes Needle. Going steeply to the base of a groove behind the Needle, we climb, edge or scramble up to a notch seperating the Needle from the main crag. Beyond is a climber's heaven, a kingdom of rock and steep ridges, where from the notch you should be able to make out Sphinx Rock. We descend, crossing the gully beyond to rock ledges known as the Dress Circle where you can watch climbers on the Needle.

  Great Gable from Wasdale Head
     

Eagle's Nest Gully:

We continue across ledges below Eagle's Nest Ridge and go through a 'crevasse' behind an obvious rock flake to reach Eagle's Nest Gully, left of which is Arrowhead Ridge. At this point we then begin climbing up the left side of the gully before a vegetative crack leads left, followed by a diagonal crack leading rightwards. This is quite exposed and not altogether solid but lets you gain the bed of the gully above a chockstone.

Th view into Wasdale at this point is very impressive and the Arrowhead rock flake also presents an impressive feature on the right. All this is amongst awesome scenery, but we must beware underfoot of the loose rock and scree, taking care not to dislodge stones onto others traversing the crag below. We then proceed where the gully divides the central line and follow the line of least resistance leftwards up the gully to a grassy ramp which lands us on the crest of Arrowhead Ridge.

  Great Gable from Kirkfell
     

Arrowhead Ridge and Westmorland Crag:

We continue our scramble up the crest staying with the ridge, climbing an obvious crack to reach some blocks. Slabs and more broken ground then lead to a grassy spur that connects with another rock rib whcih can be followed to the top of Napes Crag. Our next line of ascent is to climb the crags direct to Westmorland Cairn, traversing right beneath the crag to a square

capped block. We then climb the spur above followed by a series of rock steps, avoiding the obvious gully to the right by going left to reach another spur behind a gendarme, continuing up the crest on interesting rock to the top of the crag.

It is a short walk to the summit of Great Gable from the cairn, with plenty of options for our return to Wasdale:

Traversing Gable north-east to Windy Gap and Green Gable; traversing under Gable Crags and descending to Beck Head, Moses Trod and Wasdale or via Kirk Fell and Blacksail Pass.

  Lingmell Cairn and Great Gable

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