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Walk up Great Gable from Wasdale Head via Sty Head and Aaron Slack

By Dave Chick   

on November 22, 2018    5/5 (1)

Walk up Great Gable from Wasdale Head via Sty Head and Aaron Slack

Further Details

Route Summary:

One of the many popular routes of ascent for Great Gable. This one climbs Aaron Slack to Windy Gap and offers some short scrambling enroute to the summit.

This walk includes the Wainwright of Great Gable

This walk includes the Hewitt of Great Gable

This walk includes the Nuttall of Great Gable

Route Start Location: Wasdale Head - Great Gable

5.67 km 850 m 2 hours - One way.

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Hard Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Toilet block at Wasdale Head village green
Ritson’s Bar – Wasdale Head Inn


No specific hazards

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking : CA20 1EX

Wasdale Head village green

Public Transport:


Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


Walk up Great Gable from Wasdale Head via Sty Head and Aaron Slack Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Walk up Great Gable from Wasdale Head via Sty Head and Aaron Slack

Ask anyone to draw a mountain and they will probably (and unwittingly) draw Great Gable. Seen from Wasdale it has the perfect mountainous shape. Its triangular symmetry greets visitors from Wasdale and its name could not be more fitting, standing proudly at the end of Wastwater like a roof over the southwestern fells. So iconic is the view that the National Park Authority have it emblazoned on their logo.

There are several routes to Great Gable’s summit from Wasdale Head, all of which are very steep in places. These include the direct routes up Gavel Neese and the south-east ridge. This route describes a slightly longer route via Aaron Slack and Windy Gap which provides some imperious views over Ennerdale and the opportunity to bag the additional summit of Green Gable if you so please.

Walk up Great Gable From Wasdale Route Description

1 – From the village green at Wasdale Head, follow the track at the northeastern end car park (NY 18708 08542) and make your way past the small St. Olaf’s church (check inside to see a tiny inscription of Napes Needle on the window). Keep following the track as it passes to the left of Burnthwaite Farm. Once through the farmyard, continue on through a gate to reach a footbridge over Gable Beck.

2 – After crossing the bridge, follow the track approximately 500 metres where you will find a fork in the path (NY 20352 09333). Bear left here to remain on the main track which begins to climb towards Sty Head. You should pass through a gate in a wall.

3 –  Once through the gate, the path passes up and around a large boulder and then continues on. It is easy to follow as it climbs with a couple of short rocky steps the only source of any true excitement. Once up to Sty Head, bear left to reach the Mountain Rescue Stretcher box (NY 21892 09508).

4 – Pass the stretcher box and descend slightly in a northeasterly direction towards the tarn, following a wide path. Shortly after passing the tarn, look to your left to see Aaron Slack rising up to Windy Gap (NY 22164 09985). Aaron Slack is a stream which flows down the side of the fell – a path winds up the southern side. It is steep and bouldery though not difficult as it climbs nearly 300m to Windy Gap.

5 – Windy Gap can often live up to its name, so be wary as you reach it from the shelter of Aaron Slack on a windy day. From Windy Gap, take a left towards Great Gable (Green Gable can be reached by a very short climb to the right). Here, the climb requires a bit of scrambling initially before it reaches the final steep plod. Eventually, you will reach the summit plateau which is surprisingly broad. You may also notice that the path becomes much more intermittent.

6 – A rocky outcrop marks the top, it’s easily recognisable among the sea of stones. A war memorial is mounted to the outcrop, commemorating the men of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who never returned from the Great War. Make sure you make a short diversion to the Westmorland Cairn directly south of the summit at NY 21066 10229. It has an enviable view of Wasdale and the screes of the Great Hell Gate.

Dave is our Lake District local expert, often found in the depths of Cumbria he's the author of his own part on the web, All the Gear but no Idea.
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