Sunday, 11 November 2012

Great Gable 'Lest We Forget'

Today was not about a walk, it was about being at a certain location at a certain time on a specific day. That place, time and date was Great Gable at 11.00hrs on Remembrance Sunday 11th November 2012. Irrespective of weather a Remembrance service is held here every year and it is the largest one in the national park, though others on Great Carrs and Castle Crag are also places of gathering to remember those who have fallen in service of their country. My brother was up walking in The Lakes and had asked where to walk over the weekend. I suggested this which he immediately agreed to, I was going anyway. He arrived at my house for an early start and we set off from near Carlisle in what was to be a very good and tranquil day for such a commemoration. The last remnants of the morning mist were dissipating over Wythop Mill and Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw was blanketed in a cap of cloud. We continued on but gave in to the draw of the beautiful scenery and autumn colours as we passed Kettlewell car park on the shores of Derwentwater so pulled in here.

Catbells across Derwentwater.

Looking north to Skiddaw capped in cloud.
After a quick photo shoot we returned to the road and continued on with traffic mounting, travelling into the valley. I knew this would mean parking problems at Seathwaite, but was unprepared for the full extent of the issue. I turned into the dead end road for Seathwaite and was quickly met by cars parked well before Seathwaite Bridge. I managed to squeeze into a gap others had thought better of and was 150m before the bridge. After a short road walk we took the footpath at the bridge that meets the Seathwaite Slabs path by Sourmilk Gill. I wanted to take this as it passes The Borrowdale Yews marked on the Ordnance survey map and these form the better part of Wordsworth's famous 'Yew Trees' poem.

The Yew Trees path looking across the Gill to Seathwaite Farm and the parking issues(which also went much further back).
Once we met the path up to Seathwaite Slabs it became an issue of just joining the queue up the path with little oppurtunity to pass people due to sheer numbers. The weather kept fine, though cloud could be seen to be developing.

Heading from Gillercomb to Green Gable.
As we approached Green Gable the cloud was on the fell tops and Great Gable was not really in sight, nor any of the stunning views you get of Ennerdale or Esk Hause. People seemed to be in abundance as the paths from Honister, Gatesgarth and Aaron Slack converged to form a blockage beyond Windy Gap.

Heading down to Windy Gap.

Looking to Esk Hause, a momentary break in the cloud to reveal Styhead Tarn with Sprinkling Tarn above it, Esk Hause and the Langdale valley beyond.

The final ascent for Great Gable, persons aplenty trying to get there on time for the 11.00hrs commemoration.
I knew from many previous ascents that we had some time on our hands, though I wanted to meet other people who had stated on social websites that they would be there. I looked ahead and the crowd was big and should not have been unexpected due to the fine weather which once again cleared.
Ahead the gathering of people waited to pay their respects at the appointed time.
At the summit others were approaching from the Styhead Tarn route, perhaps the most popular and the Kirk Fell route from Ennerdale and Wasdale. I looked but saw no sign of the group I was looking for and all walkers know that on a fell top lots of jackets just blend into the crowd. I heard someone call my dog and there they were, just ahead of me. After a short food stop and a chat the service began and due to little wind noise I could just make it out. The most fitting tribute is the two minute silence and this was adhered to rigorously with only the sound of dog whines to break it. Not a single word was heard to be said or a mobile phone sounded. I took no photos of the service or of the plaque. To do so I thought would be disrespectful and due to the crowds I knew the plaque was inaccessible for a long time to come. My brother and I followed patiently in a queue for the Styhead Tarn route to later head for Taylorgill Force and eventually we reached the mountain rescue stretcher box at the tarn.

I took the above photo of people coming off the fell behind me and the following photo is of the Aaron Slack descent from Windy Gap.

Everyone was taking the normal tourist route off the fell, this is the easiest, fastest and busiest but is not the most scenic so we did not cross Styhead Gill by the wooden bridge but continued on the left of the Gill. This gets slippery on some sloping rocks and later becomes craggy with steep slopes below The Force, but I love this route.

Just passing Taylorgill Force

Walkers on the Stockley Bridge route, though this misses the waterfall (Force) views.

This gives a representation of the route in places.

Looking back to Taylorgill Force.

A Seaking no doubt going to someone in distress on the fells.
This Seaking was skirting Base Brown to head toward Styhead. My brother always looks up at these with some affection as he used to work on the electrics in a previous life in the navy, twenty odd years ago. Finally the farm was in sight and at least we had this route to ourselves. The weather was faultless for mid November and to think a week ago the fells were in full snow.
Seahtwaite Farm ahead, nearly journeys end.
This put us on the Borrowdale Yews path again so we avoided a long road walk and finally we were back at the car. A tribute duly paid to brave men who died in service of their country fighting on the side of Right in conditions that were hellish. All the WWI veterans are now passed into memory but WWII veterans and all wars since are the reminder of the need for resolution through discussion by Governments at The United Nations. Let us commemorate their sacrifice by ensuring war on the scale of these two world conflicts never happens again. There is a date in my 2013 diary already taken up and it's 11th of 11th and \i intend on being on Great Gable.

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