Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Great Gable Fell Run

Paul and Jonathan taking the fast way down from Great Gable

Rivington Ultra 26.2 was postponed due to snow and high winds.  We had a suspicion that this might be the case and thought about heading to Grizedale Forest for the Great Grizedale Trail Run but decided that the roads might be a bit dicey.  After a few mopey posts on Facebook, we had the offer of joining up with Lee and Paul for a run.  Jonathan wasn't keen but I managed to persuade him and so we headed off to Seathwaite, parking a bit short at Stonethwaite due to a snowy road.

The plan was something along the lines of the Four Lakeland Passes route that I had run in October.  I thought that this would be ideal as it would keep us off the tops and the navigation would be fairly easy.  It was evident from the initial climb up to Styhead Tarn that this route was a bit ambitious in the snow and very cold wind.  We decided to head over Great Gable and then make our way around the top end of Ennerdale, across to the Honister Slate Mine and back down the road to the car.

Here's the route:

Jonathan had never seen snow before

heading up to Sty Head, looking back down to Borrowdale

wind starting to get up

looking towards Seathwiate Fell

As we climbed up from Stockley Bridge, the normally busy path was empty.  The wind started to get up and the snow was pretty deep.  It was clear at this early stage that our plans had been ambitious and we decided to head over the top of Great Gable.

Lee at Styhead Tarn

Paul and Jonathan catching up

at the stretcher box towards Great End

The climb up Great Gable via the Breast Route was very difficult.  The winds were very high and at points we were hanging onto rocks to prevent being blown over.  Jonathan had his hat blown off and had to improvise with a buff.  He said that his fingers were also getting cold.  We were a bit worried about him and stopped in a sheltered spot to check he was ok.  He said that he was and that he had a jacket in his bag.  After fumbling in the wind, being sure not to let go of anything, we got his jacket out, it was a wafer thin Salomon running jacket, another layer but not really a great deal of help.

We thought about turning back but everyone said they were ok and there wasn't an easy way back so we carried on up to the top.  It was really nice when the gradient levelled out and, wind assisted now, we ran up to the top of Great Gable.

Paul and Jonathan as the climbing gets easier on Great Gable

A very cold Lee sheltering behind Great Gable summit.  Yewbarrow and Seatallan visible on the right.  You can just make out the screes rolling into Wast Water in the middle of the picture.

further around from the left, Pillar over Kirk Fell, the encroaching carpet of Ennerdale and then the High Stile range with Haystacks sitting modestly in the middle.  Further to the right, the highest fell is Grasmoor, then in front of it is Whiteless Pike and High Snockrigg leading up to Robinson.

We sat for a short while at the top of Great Gable.  Lee headed for what I think was the direct route to Kirk Fell, we decided that it was a bit steep going that way and headed off further around, down the corner of the fell, to the West side of Gable Crag.  There was deep snow here and the descent was fast and easy.  The snow never got much deeper than knee depth and we were soon where we wanted to be.

Paul and Jonathan 'styling it out' heading down from Great Gable summit

looking over to Kirk Fell, Beckhead Tarn at the bottom.

descent getting a bit steeper here.  I think this is Paul.

At the path junction, we joined the Moses Trod path which curves around the top of the valley behind Green Gable.  The path seems to follow the contours so it made for a nice little run.  We hopped the fence, an easy task as the snow was half way up it, and then ran across to the old mine track at Honister.  We followed the track down to the slate mine.  Toilet stop and spikes off then we carried on along the road back to Seatoller.

waiting for Jonathan at the path junction.

Lee gaining ground on Moses Trod

looking back to Great Gable, our route was down the right hand side.

looking down to Buttermere, Melbreak visible in the distance.

just before joining the old rail track, looking back with Paul and Jonathan catching up

down to Honister Slate Mine

Jonathan on a last bit of snow

top of Honister Pass

the gang

Honister Pass

back down at the cars - Beautiful Borrowdale

After a quick change, we had a pint and some chips (£10 minimum spend on cards) in front of a roaring fire at The Scafell Hotel.  Lots of laughs about Jonathan's near hypothermia and a promise to do more runs together soon (although I wasn't convinced that Jonathan was fully committed).

1 comment: