Great Gable via Needle Ridge and Westmorlands Crag

Great Gable via Needle Ridge and Westmorlands Crag

Page Type Page Type: Route
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: V DIFF (UIAA III+)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 5
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


The Needle and Needle RidgeNapes Needle and Needle Ridge
Needle Ridge

The ascent of Great Gable via Needle Ridge and Westmoreland’s Crag on the Napes provides a fine mountaineering day out in the birthplace of English Rock climbing.

The route, starting at Seathwaite, incorporates a beautiful hike to Napes Needle via Styhead and the Climbers Traverse.

This is followed by an English Classic climb at V Diff standard (UIAA III+) of Needle Ridge and then a Grade 1 scramble via Westmorland’s Crag to the summit of Great Gable.

The return via Windy Gap, Green Gable and Sour Milk Gill gives great views across the area.

Getting There/Camping

Needle RidgeFinal scrambling section

Great Gable Route MapRoute Map

Seathwaite (NY235121) is approached from the B5289 from Keswick to Borrowdale and Honister Pass.

Take the left turn at Seatoller over a small bridge.

There is ample parking on the road leading to the farm at Seathwaite.

There are a number of campsites and also B&B/hotel facilities in the Borrowdale Area.

Route Description

Needle Ridge
Westmorlands CragWestmorlands Crag
Needle RidgePete at the final belay on Needle Ridge
Scafell from the Napes Great GableScafell from the Napes

From Seathwaite go through the farm and follow the path to the picturesque Stockley Bridge and then follow the path up past Styhead Tarn and to the stretcher box at Styhead Pass.

From here take the smaller middle path (the climbers traverse) that heads NE under Kern Knotts and then onto to the left side of Napes Needle at the Dress Circle. If a return is planned to do another ridge later in the day then packs can be left here. One should rope up here as this is the start of the pitched climbing of Needle Ridge.

Needle Ridge
The route provides 100m of ascent in 5 pitches on clean polished rock at V. Diff/Diff standard (UIAA II-III+). The highly polished slab on the first pitch involves delicate climbing for the grade(V Diff+) but the remainder of the climb is on superb rock that is easily protected.

Pitch 1 (12m)
Ascend the crack to the notch between the Needle and the slab of Needle Ridge and then ascend the polished slab to a groove trending to the left to a stance on small ledge below a steep wall.

Pitch 2 (15m)
Ascend the steep wall to easier rocks and then a second wall to traverse right to a rib.

Pitch 3 (25m)
Climb the rib and then a corner to a wall with a groove on the left.

Pitch 4 (12m)
Climb the groove on the left. Alternatively climb the wall trending right up the right crack at about Severe standard (UIAA IV).

Pitch 5 (35m)
Easy scrambling leads to the top

Follow the path carefully and descend into the large red scree run below.

If the plan is to return to sacks and climb another ridge then follow this scree run down to the climbers traverse and back to Napes Needle.

If the summit of Great Gable is the objective then a good Grade 1 scrambling route can be found up Westmorland’s Crag which is visible ahead at the top of the scree run. Ascend to the left side of the crag

Westmorland’s Crag (Grade 1)

The start of the scramble is at the right of the third spur from the left. This is easily found by following a small path along the base of the crag from left side. Ascend the ridge heading to a square shaped block over steps and passing a pinnacle on its left up a short wall and then onto the summit. From here a short walk leads to the summit of Gable Great Gable.

Descent from Great Gable
Follow the path and cairns to Windy Gap. Ascend Green Gable and then descend towards Gillercombe and Sour Milk Gill and finally to Seathwaite. There are wonderful views throughout taking in the Scafell Range, Pillar and the High Stile Range.

Essential Gear

Needle Ridge

50 m single rope with a selection of nuts, cams and hexs.

Walking boots are advised for the scree decent section or alternatively the ascent of Westmorlands crag.

External Links

Lake weather

Guide Books

Pillar and High Stile RangeView to Pillar

FRCC Guide to Lakeland Rock
Easy Rock Climbs and Scrambles in the Lake District. J Spark