Great Gable Remembrance Day Service

11th November 2012

A short time ago I was invited to attend Great Gable’s remembrance Sunday service by members & friends of Rocktarts. A Facebook Group set up for lovers of Lakeland & generally anything outdoors, here members can post pictures of recent walks & up-coming events. Great Gable remembrance Sunday was something special the group had organised & had already a decent line up to attend the event.

This not only gave me time to digest the wonderful service that takes place on Great Gable which is incidentally hosted by the president of the FRCC (Fell & Rock Climbing Club) but to also meet up with new friends of whom I mostly see from behind my laptop.

I of course had known about the service held on Great Gable being particularly attached to the fells, yet in my ignorance I never gave the the service held on every armistice day much thought.

Two minutes silence was all it took to change my mind for future events.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Western Fells

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon.


Ascent: 2,400 Ft, 716 Meters
Wainwrights: 3, Green Gable – Great Gable – Haystacks
Weather: Bright Start Turning Overcast – Staying Dry. Highs Of 8°C Lows Of 4°C
Parking: Honister Slate Mine (Donation to Royal British Legion)
Area: Western
Miles: 8.1
Walking With: Facebook Members & Several Hundred Others
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 5hrs 45 Minutes (including 45 Minutes standing time on Great Gable summit)
Route: Honister Slate Mine – Gillercomb Head – Green Gable – Windy Gap – Great Gable – Windy Gap – Moses Trod – Haystacks – Innominate Tarn – Blackbeck Tarn – Dubs Bottom – Dubs Hut – Honister Slate Mine

Map and Photo Gallery



Honister Slate Mine, Borrowdale 08.16am 4°C

Having arrived at Honister it was time to kit up once I had parked the car in one of only four parking spaces left, it seems I had just made it in time. I kitted up at the car door checking distant figures for familiar faces, it wasn’t long before I had spied members of Rocktarts along with familiar faces from my Facebook page.

Being the new guy I approached the crowded group with a little caution hoping my eyes hadn’t deceived me as I walked over to the group with my hand stretched ready for the handshake, Is it John I asked? it is mate, its Paul isn’t it? with a quick handshake we got ourselves quickly acquainted, John replied that we were still waiting on members, one of which was Anna Studholme, a keen Fell Walker & Photographer, Anna’s running a little late John replied, what about Adrian I asked? Adrian left around half an hour ago with another group straight over the tops of Grey Knotts & Brandreth via the step access path directly behind the mine.

Within minutes of this Anna turned up to an already bustling car park, seeing this, it wasn’t long until Anna span her car around & found room on the larger car park on the other side of the mine.


Looking back down on Honister Mine from the start of our ascent.


Our route would leave the old tramway after a short heave & take in the north west flanks of both Grey Knott & Brandreth.


From the path views momentarily opened up over Dubs Bottom to reveal glimpse’s of Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile & Red Pike (Buttermere)

Sadly they weren’t to last…


The given scenery for the next couple of hours.

It was here I got chatting to Simon Woof, a fellow fell walker from Sedburgh, Simon & I chatted about the usual things as one would, the one thing that struck me about Simon was just how proud he was of his Sedburgh roots & in particular the cattle raised in & around the Howgill Fells.

Simon spoke passionately about the time Foot & Mouth spread through much, if not the whole of the UK & fell walking as a hobby, ceased. For thousands of fell walkers throughout the whole of Cumbria & surrounding areas. The farmers had the Howgills under lockdown Simon explained, the authorities formed a barrier around our fells & our cattle, it was during that time Simon noted that Prize cattle born within the Howgills were exported all over the country & indeed the continent, we just couldn’t risk our cattle getting the disease, if it meant the farmers protecting there land by any means then so be it.

Fell Walkers escaping under the radar during that time were chased off the land & in some cases ‘roughed up’ they didn’t come back after that.


Passing an un-named tarn along Gillercomb Head.


Walkers pausing for rest along the summit of Green Gable.


Paul Byrne at the summit of Green Gable.

I soon met up with Paul & Sian Byrne who I also share friends with on my Facebook page, we had already met at a glance whilst I walked across the car park back at the mine, after a quick hello at the car park we agreed to catch up later on the Great Gable’s summit.

Paul & I soon found ourselves acquainted as we descended Windy Gap ready for the final ascent on Great Gable.


Descending into the mist.

The descent onto Windy Gap is always done in haste one thinks, why you may ask? well I can tell you that at some point descending at haste comes naturally as you may have no other choice given the gradient, the other reason I ponder & I am also guilty of is the anticipation off the ascent of Great Gable, one can not wait as Windy Gap catapults the walker onto her crags.


A shimmering glimpse of Sprinkling Tarn from Windy Gap.


Walkers in their hundreds scurrying up the crags.


You could be forgiven for looking upon such a scene & muttering to oneself that what you see before you is nothing but organised chaos, yet you couldn’t be further from the truth, here walkers wait patently & offer a guiding, or indeed a helping hand so that everyone should reach the top safely.


10:15am Great Gable summit.


Getting ready for the Remembrance service.

The summit was quickly filling up making standing in any one spot sometimes difficult, the rock underfoot was especially greasy which meant a wrong move could of been embarrassingly nasty for everyone involved.

I trod carefully taking in this magnificent spectacle.

Paul & I agreed to have a rather precarious ‘walk around’ the summit cairn & memorial plaque which also as you can guess proved very awkward as at times you couldn’t see your feet beneath you, at the same time we agreed to look for the elusive Adrian Strand, he was said to be at the cairn but finding Adrian was proving somewhat difficult. Paul & I decided it would be safer if we retreat back to Paul’s wife Sian & friends until the service began.

Not before a shot of the memorial plaque together with hundreds of red poppies.


The Fell & Rock Climbing Club World War Memorial plaque, dedicated to those members who lost their lives during World War I & World War II.



The President of FRCC lead the morning service followed by a monumental two minutes silence dedicated to all those fighting for Queen & Country past & present.

The two minutes silence was followed by a clap by all hands gathered, it was here I was to say my farewell to my new friends & somehow make my way off the summit.

This might be easier said then done…


The organised chaos!

The descent was met with eagerness on most parts, people wishing to descend quicker than most legs would take them, impatience was on a high as a handful of walkers decided that they just didn’t like to queue, I paid them no attention as I eased my way down, one walker in particular seemed to follow me, a man in his fifties a little un-easy with the loose rock underfoot, un-be known to him I waited until he had scaled parts of the crags particularly vulnerable -  & told him were the wet & loose rock was.


Mist still clings to Windy Gap.

This time I was to descend Windy Gap via the Ennerdale side (L) for a small portion, that was until I was to pick up the delightful path named Moses Trod & Haystacks bound.


Kirk Fell & Pillar from Moses Trod.

The descent via Windy Gap was rough to say the least, much steeper than the descent from Green Gable onto Windy Gap, in my eagerness to escape the hundreds I did this at a much quicker pace than normal causing slight trip ups & slides, Paul, get a grip & take your time.

Looking north through the mist I soon spotted the path or at least a corner of it which then lead into an almost diagonal line, the corner I thought could be cut off via a short cut across fellside, a decision I was later to regret as this involved boulder hoping, walkers in front & now behind me choose to do the same as pairs of walkers soon fell into singular columns as they negotiated the wet rock & steep grass.

What I should of done here was take a minute & enjoy a hot cup of coffee from my flask, hindsight is easier to write than to prove to a headstrong walker with his next summit in sight.


The Ennerdale Valley from Moses Trod.

Haystacks appears cloud topped over on the right of the picture, meanwhile Pillar remains under cloud but not for long.


Pillar & Pillar Rock from Moses Trod.


Haystacks & Blackbeck Tarn.

A little ascent was needed to reach the top of Brin Crag which now stood behind me, behind me lay dozens of walkers who had chosen the alternative route to head back to Honister thus not retracing their steps back over Windy Gap & Green Gable, different I thought.

My path would more or less follow the fence you see on the right of the picture, or a narrow black broken line on the map, the path follows the fence line & after a little descent has been lost I picked up the path you see centre left along the backbone of Haystacks.


My route shown in red.


Looking back on Great Gable & Green Gable, hard to believe the summit was fully engulfed in cloud a little over an hour ago.


Passing Blackbeck Tarn & Great Round How along the way.


An RAF Sea King hovers over Beck Head, I was to later learn the Sea King was carrying out manoeuvres that day.


High Crag from the summit of Haystacks.

I was unable to get a shot of the cairn as two walkers had decided to hog it, not even a gentle persuasion from fell walker – camera in hand they did not get the hint that all I wanted was a cairn shot.

Just after I took this shot, a fellow walker slipped on rock, I went to his aid as he explained it was the ‘shock of it’ that hurt the most, that & the embarrassment, you ok I asked? I dumbed down the situation by explaining that I to was the victim of wet rock that day, not the truth but it may have saved the poor guy some embarrassment.

Time for lunch.

I chose a spot to eat under the whine of an RAF Sea King & a now glaring sun, approaching the summit I spot John, Anna & friends making their way up, John asked about the Sea King as it seems everyone around has eyes fixed on it, little did we know then it was just exercise, it’s never a nice moment watching a Sea King however majestic the pilot may handle it, thoughts are usually elsewhere,. but thankfully not this time.

I finish lunch & pay homage to Innominate Tarn with a few quiet words to the great man.


Innominate Tarn with a Pillar backdrop.


Buttermere, Crummock Water & the Buttermere Fells from Little Round How.


After crossing Warnscale Beck I clambered up the river bank then passed Dubs Hut which was part of the old Honister Mine workings, I was on the home stretch now & the….


Straightest mile in Lakeland.


Above Honister Mine.

The walk was almost over as I eased my way down the rocky track along with dozens more walkers who paid homage on Great Gable that morning. Between this shot and reaching the car park I came across another Facebook friend in the name of Chris Drake along with his Partner Alison and his Labrador, Fudge. We chatted a short while before I finished the remains of my flask at the side of my car.

The sore feet, the standing round in near sub-zero temperatures was worth it, when on the other side of the world young British Men & Women wore the British uniform with pride ready to attack or be attacked.

At 11:00am for two silent minutes, over six hundred friends & strangers got together on the summit of Great Gable to remember them.

Lest we forget.


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