Drawing 347: The summit of Great Gable

Direction of view: SSW

Notes: There is no longer a cairn as shown by Wainwright.  The rocks in the foreground are clearly identifiable.

This scene also appears on page 58 of Wainwright in Lakeland, page 108 of Fellwalking with a Camera, page Great Gable 21 in The Western Fells, and it is Lakeland Mountain Drawing 388.  The photograph shows the cairn and iron post as drawn in the sketch (though not the two somewhat dishevelled figures on the right of the sketch). The mountain drawing is from slightly further back, with a sizeable cairn.

Comments: Image 1 was taken on slide film on 26th May 1992, on a walk with Peter Messenger: see 340 above.  This was my 11th ascent of Great Gable.

Image 2 was taken with my digital camera on 17th June 2013.  Remarkably, it was my thirteenth visit to the summit of Gable, but the first for over 20 years.  Anne Setright and I had decided to do the “Gable Girdle” as described by Wainwright, and we ascended from Wasdale Head to Sty Head via the valley track recommended by AW, then took the South Traverse path.  We continued via Beck Head, the North Traverse, and Windy Gap, so arriving on the summit of Great Gable at 5pm.  Only one other walker was present.  The day was overcast with a dull haze, though the latter did not matter for this shot.  We then walked over to Westmorland Cairn (see 161 and 240), before descending the Breast Route and the direct route back to Wasdale Head.

On 23rd October 2013, the Northern Echo contained an article about the replacement of the war memorial plaque which features prominently in this sketch.  The original plaque was put up in 1924, but some spelling mistakes had been identified, and the Fell and Rock Climbing Club commissioned a replacement ready for the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1.  Royal Engineers from RAF Leeming scaled Great Gable, carrying the 70kg replacement plaque, having previously brought the original plaque down.  A photograph shows the new plaque with the Royal Engineers and FRCC members.

As for the old plaque, which adorned the summit for nearly 90 years, this is now in St Olaf’s churchyard at Wasdale Head.  It was rededicated there by the Bishop of Carlisle on 21st July 2019, coinciding with the centenary of Peace Day 1919.