Base Brown to Fleetwith Pike via Great Gable

20th July 2013

It only hit home sometime last year when in conversation with good friend & moderator of Walkingplaces stuart Greig who dropped into a conversation that Paul, you are now an accomplished fell walker. I can’t quite remember what the conversation was about but what hit home most about Stuart’s comments was that word accomplished.

I never regarded myself in that regard up until that day, for this, I owe a debt of gratitude to many friends who have helped me my pursue my goals & achievements over the last six years or so.

There is one man of whom without his knowledge & experience of the Lakeland fells Sharkey’s Dream simply would not exist.

His name is David Hall, creator of Walkthefells

David & I accidently met back in May this year in between Sheffield Pike & Hart Side, then, through the help of a friend we exchanged emails & arranged this walk.

David threw in around half a dozen suggestions on where to walk, one of which included Base Brown, a fell I have not been back on since my first visit in March 2010. The thought of taking in the glacial valley of Gillercomb with what I can only describe as a hero of mine secured the basis of this walk.

It all started on a grass verge in the valley of Seathwaite.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Western Fells

- Base Brown:

It is a cornerstone, walkers’ paths to Sty Head curving around its base below sixteen hundred feet of chaotic fellside scarred by gully and crag and strewn with the natural debris of ages; a stark declivity.


Ascent: 3,700 Feet 1,127 Meters
Wainwrights: 6, Base Brown – Green Gable – Great Gable – Brandreth – Grey Knotts – Fleetwith Pike
Weather: A Mix of Sunny Spells & Overcast, Light Breeze On Tops, Highs Of 24°C Lows Of 16°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Seathwaite Bridge Seathwaite
Area: Western
Miles: 10.4
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 07:55 – 15:55 7hrs
Route: Seathwaite Bridge – Seathwaite Farm – Sourmilk Gill – Gillercomb – Base Brown – Green Gable – Windy Gap – Great Gable Windy Gap – Green Gable – Gillercomb Head – Brandreth – Grey Knotts – Fleetwith Pike – Honister Mine – Honister Pass – Seatoller – Seathwaite Bridge

Map and Photo Gallery



Ashness Bridge Jetty.

I couldn’t help a cheeky stop off at the jetty at the bottom of Ashness Bridge Road, here looking towards the stillness of morning on Derwent Water.


The cheekiness continued, here looking towards Skiddaw which is almost covered by morning mist.


Seathwaite Farm 08:03am 16°C

David & I arranged to meet a little further back along the road just past Seathwaite Bridge, here we had a pretty good chance of parking the cars next to one another which paid off.

I arrived in Seathwaite a little earlier than expected & soon found David’s car already parked up on the grass verge, after parking up & greeting each other with a smile & firm handshake it was time to kit up which consisted mainly of lacing up our boots. I asked how David’s horsefly bites were as he turned & showed me his calves, which had been ravaged for a full on fifteen minutes by the buggers while descending Lank Rigg only two days earlier.

It was a great conversation opener!


Base Brown from the start of the ascent.

While passing through Seathwaite Farm we took a right turn through the barn & followed the track towards the wooden footbridge over a rather dry looking Grains Gill.

Here the conversation flowed as I hit David with more questions that should have been spread over the duration of the whole walk rather than the ten minutes it took me to get them out.

Only kidding.

The morning air was heating up nicely as we took on the start of the ascent, although it was warm it was nowhere near as warm as we had predicted which made the ascent both enjoyable & comfortable.

I couldn’t help but notice just how green the bracken looked under blue skies.




One of the main reasons I chose Base Brown over the other choices David had given me was to see again the large cirque (large arena/amphitheatre) that occupies Gillercomb (R)

Conversation flows as we pass the couple ahead with strong Newcastle accents, they look as if they are struggling a little with the heat yet spirits are most definitely high, its not the last time we will see them as we press on through the valley.




Base Brown.

As we ascend a little higher we are greeted by a cool breeze arising from the Col in between Green Gable & Base Brown, here David & I ‘back track’ almost to reach the grassy summit of Base Brown


Base Brown summit cairn.

As we arrived at the summit we notice a couple enjoying the morning sun & no doubt taking a good rest from the heat, they have two small dogs with them as I kneel down a begin to pat both dogs.

After a few moments spent chatting & a few photographs later we left them to have the summit to themselves again.


The haze playing a little camera issues as you can see in the photo looking over Great End, Broad Crag, The Scafell’s & Lingmell.

Our conversation turned to just how busy those summits are going to get today.


Green Gable lies next as we take in the wonderful grassy Col in between it & Base Brown.


Looking back on the expanse of Base Brown as we take on Green Gable.

The couple from Newcastle have just emerged from Gillercomb in the left of the picture.

It is here I offer David a satsuma to give a little refreshment under the heat of the morning.


Great Gable emerges as we near the summit of Green Gable.


Great Gable & Gable Crags from Green Gable.

As we are making good time we both opt for a quick rest as we find ourselves a place to sit out of the cool breeze, we choose a rather precarious spot high above a gully to rest.

Here David takes his left boot off to give an injured tendon a stretch, the result being of an earlier injury David took on while running to get out of the rain whilst in work would you believe, as he contemplates to put his left boot back on David’s humour has me in fits as he quips, I wouldn’t like to drop my boot here.

I guess you had to be there, as it just came from nothing!

We are joined by more walkers, two of whom instantly wander over to the edge to take pictures of Gable & her Crags, there’s someone on Engineers Crags one of them remarks…what? where the hell is he looking I think? I am impressed, not at the fact that this guy has just arrived & is able to pin point a climber on a fell that I have been looking at for the past ten minutes but is also able to tell his mate exactly where the climber is, David & I earwig on the location of this climber…David spots him first & there after so do I.


Windy Gap from Green Gable.

Great Gable was a no brainer at this stage, considering that when back at Seathwaite we opted to have a think about an ascent on Great Gable.

The weather & timing was perfect for an ascent. The cool breeze acted like a funnel in between Ennerdale & Styhead & was more than welcoming.


The valley of Ennerdale together with Kirk Fell, Pillar & the whole High Stile Ridge from Windy Gap which by now was more than living up to its name.


Green Gable & Base Brown from our ascent.

The morning was now heating up just nicely as we took on the ascent on Great Gable, we both agreed that the steepness of the climb will only get us there quicker if not less a few pounds in sweat.


Great Gable summit.

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at the summit, here met by three guys with heavy packs & rolled tarps.

It’s approaching mid morning on a beautiful summers day, on one of Lakelands most popular summits as David & I remarked…where is everyone?

We have a scurry about the summit taking photos.


At the site of the Memorial Plaque.

A notice taped to the rock by gaffer tape no less… please do not read that the Plaque had been stolen I thought, to my surprise it hadn’t, it had been taken down for restoration by The FRCC (Federation of Rock Climbing Club)

What looks like white powder at the base of the rock are indeed… ashes of human remains, I am a tad put off by this, why not scatter them air borne?

By now you’d be somewhere over Kirk Fell in this wind David & I laughed.

More ashes where found neatly piled on the other side of the summit…the thought off which, stayed with me for the duration of the walk.


Broad Crag & The Scafell’s together with Lingmell taken from Great Gable summit.


Before leaving the summit I took this photo overlooking Kirk Fell top, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Haycock Red Pike (Wasdale) & finally Yewbarrow seen as the pointed peak far left.

That’s a full days walking more commonly known as the Mosedale Horseshoe …not in this heat I might add.


Retracing our steps back to Windy Gap.

It is here we are met by more & more walkers heading up Great Gable which gave me pause for thought …but more on that later.


Descending Windy Gap.

I take in the sights from our descent with fond memories of our Skew Gill scramble (seen as a dark cleft beneath Great End (R) with fellow friend & walker Tim, just a couple of months ago.

Here Styhead Tarn can be seen lower in the photo as Aaron Slack descends directly from Windy Gap, above Styhead Tarn is a glimmer of Sprinkling Tarn with remnants of a head bath after the day spent scrambling & summiting Scafell Pike along the route.

Esk Pike & Allen Crags can be seen as the fells in the background, looking further back are the unmistakable Langdale Pikes.

It seems as if slowly but surely, the haze is lifting.

It was now time to take on Green Gable once more before heading for our next summit of Brandreth, but that is in a little while yet.


Shown here by a much clearer picture of Ennerdale, Pillar & The High Stile Ridge.


The dominance of Kirk Fell is never far away, here Pillar & Scoat Fell together with a glimpse of Haycock can be seen as we now leave Green Gable behind in search of Brandreth.


Gillercomb Head en route to Brandreth.

But first a little descent is needed here as we pass a group of couples heading for Green Gable from the direction of Brandreth.


Kirk Fell & Pillar through the oval window.


Kirk Fell again domineers the scenery, this time as we pass the un-named Tarn along Gillercomb Head.


Who turned off the lights?

Here looking back on ground covered on both Green & Great Gable from Brandreth summit.


Hay Stacks & High Crag together with Buttermere, Crummock Water & The Loweswater Fells as we make the short journey across to Grey Knotts.


This time with a little zoom, sorry I could do nothing about the haze.


Grey Knotts looms closer.

You could be forgiven that thinking the Crag’s ahead is indeed the summit of Grey Knotts but this is a trick on the eye as the main summit are the band of rocks you see in the right of the photo.

Thank you David for pointing that out, I nearly came a cropper there (sinks head in shame)


David heads for the summit while we contemplate a late lunch.

We take in some rest & feed our bellies whilst sat beneath overcast skies. Whilst here David & I get deep into conversation (more so on my part) as to how much Walkthefells has helped me throughout my walking career.

David listens to me transfixed almost as if to say (Have I really helped you so much) But not just me David, Walkthefells receives over 15,000 web hits a day worldwide, that is a staggering amount of people, not just who walk the fells but who just want to read about David’s walks.

I put it across rather sternly that I bet the amount of walkers we had passed today had used his website in one way or another, David answers…do you think?

I don’t think I know they must have.

I speak for many when I say that we are a small cog in a large clock that you created, you are the planet & we your readers, the satellites.

That is how I see David Hall.

The man is humbled & listens to my every word without interruption, whether he thinks I’m a crank or not is divided, but 15,000 daily visitors simply, cannot be wrong.

Okay I’ve lost it, back to the walk!


Hay Stacks & High Crag as pass over Dubbs Bottom.


Looking back on Grey Knotts & Great Gable from our ascent on Fleetwith Pike.

We took an almost direct line after leaving the summit of Grey Knotts making sure at the same time not to lose too much height in order to take advantage of our afternoon ascent on Fleetwith Pike.


A host of Buttermere Fells taken from Fleetwith Pike summit.

Fleetwith Pike summit was reached under scorching afternoon sun, here we are joined by three walkers two of whom are already making their exit via Fleetwith Edge (or the nose of the fell) back to Gatesgarth no less.

One walker remains, a inquisitive southern man who asked about our route, more so to David as I take a few photos. Where are you staying he ask? David replies that he lives here… I couldn’t help but wonder does this guy think that everyone he meets is a tourist on the fells & that Cumbria has a population of zero?

Sarky comments aside…take photos & keep mouth shut Paul!


After another five minutes sat down we gave in the views & started our long walk back to Seathwaite via The Honister Mine, it was mid afternoon & the heat was at its highest, it seems we have timed our descent well, David & I both agreed had the heat been this substantial we wouldn’t had gained Great Gable nor Fleetwith Pike for that matter.


Looking down on the cars on Honister Pass…it really is that far down.


The Honister Bus tour taking thrill seekers no doubt along the Via Ferrata.

The Via Ferrata on Fleetwith Pike is something that I’ve always wanted to do & no doubt will over the course of the summer months with my son Owen. I ask David for advice as he has already experienced the thrill of living on the edge clipped in along the side of a mountain.

We do this while choking on dust & dusting our clothes down, up until now I had managed to stay clean… there’s going to be a real tide mark in tonight’s bath I can well imagine.


That classic view from the top of The Honister Pass towards Robinson.

David tells me there used to be a sign at this point warning drivers ‘Do So At Your Own Risk’

I don’t know why it ever got taken down judging by some of the driving I’ve witnessed along here!


Seatoller Cottages.

After a hot descent downhill it was nice to be on even ground where upon I had the chance to kick my toes back in the boot where they belonged …David’s injured foot I assume, can only have faired no better.

Our walk is almost over as we pass through the hustle of a Saturday afternoon in Seatoller as cars continue to clog up the already narrow lane of this idyllic Lakeland hamlet.

We chat our way back to Seathwaite Bridge where we find our cars baking in the afternoon sun, first things first lets get those doors open in order to let that trapped heat escape.

We kit down at our tailgates as I thank David with another firm handshake for a route well executed & the chance to meet & walk with the man behind Walkthefells.

What do you say to the man who shares your passion, who gave you & thousands of others that passion to Walk the fells, I found it then as I do now hard to put it into words.

Signs of a friendship where born today, so much so maybe even more walks will be planned for the future.


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