Although not the highest mountain in the area Great Gable is one of the most distinctive in shape. So much so that the view of it from the south west has been adopted as the symbol for the Lake District National Park in which it is situated.
It is also significant historically since it was on its southern flank that W.P.Haskett Smith, in June 1886, soloed the first ascent of the rock pinnacle now known as Napes Needle. It is this climb which is widely regarded as signalling the start of the sport of rock climbing in Britain.
The summit can be reached by several easy but steep footpaths. The rock climbing is confined to its southern and northern slopes and routes can be found at all grades. Many of them have become established as classics.
Great Gable is situated in the west of the Lake District National Park which, in turn, is found in the county of Cumbria in the North West corner of England. The park is easily accessible via the national motorway network, the M6 skirting its eastern border.
An essential item of equipment for any visit to the Lake District is a map. For walkers
and climbers probably the best are those of the Ordnance Survey (1:25000 or 1:50000) or the Harvey series (1:40000). These show clearly the roadhead access points for Great Gable – Seathwaite, Honister Pass, Wasdale Head, Langdale.
Many other starting points are possible depending on the length of walk wanted.
The only requirement is voluntary observation of the country code – no litter, no fires, dogs on leads when near sheep, no camping at the side of the road, etc.
When to climb
The mountain can be walked up and its crags climbed on all year round, day or night. These days winters tend to be less cold and wetter so the rocks become greasy and slippery but many easier routes can be climbed even on bad days.
On the rare occasions when we get a sustained cold, snowy, icy spell, Great Gable has a small number of lower grade ice climbs on its northern flank.
There are many authorized campsites in the National Park, several within walking distance of Great Gable.
Unauthorized camping at the side of roads is not allowed.
The authorities turn a blind eye to wild camping in the mountains provided it is done discreetly.
Recommended rock climbing guidebook
'Gable and Pillar' 1991. Published by The Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District.
Recommended walking guidebooks
'A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells - Book 7, The Western Fells' being an illustrated account of a study and exploration of the Mountains in the English Lake District by A.Wainwright. (See "Books" section.)
'Walking More Ridges of Lakeland - According to Wainwright's Pictorial Guides, Books 4-7' by Bob Allen with Peter Linney. Clear descriptions, excellent maps, diagrams and photographs.
'The Lakeland Fells' edited by June Parker and Tim Pickles Published by The Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District.
Some views from the mountain