A gallop up the Gables (and Base Brown)

With the Jubilee in full swing, we thought we’d celebrate by sweating all over Base Brown and the Gables. We planned to meet Dicko on the road into Seathwaite and setting off straight up the path that hugs the waterfall up Sour Milk Gill. We set off in good time as we were aware that the road into Seathwaite can be very problematic when it comes to parking. We weren’t disappointed as we pulled off the main road at Seatoller, the road was bumper to bumper and more walkers you can shake a ‘Leki’ stick at!  We had the advantage, my little Aygo may not be the beast of the road, but I can park it on a ten pence piece. We found a small space near a gate close to the farm at the bottom and stood enjoying the sun whilst we awaited the arrival of our hiking buddy. The traffic was constant and I amused myself watching Kel shouting at bad drivers getting too close to the Aygo. I looked up the road and thought the farmer must get frustrated with the chaos that lines his fields. More worryingly the RAF mountain rescue tried to edge their way down the road, having to turn back due to the volume of cars. Luckily on this occasion the vehicles weren’t showing blue lights otherwise I think Kel would be throwing chunks of dry stone wall at some of the cars.

Amidst the sea of cars the waving stick of Dicko could be seen as he walked down the road, I think he’d parked near the Scafell Hotel. So we set off down the road with me passing a couple of glances back at my trusty red cart horse, wondering if it would still be the same shape on our return.

The campsite at the bottom of our quest was heaving too with the smell of BBQs and the campers supping cans of lager, it was only half ten but I thought “that must be nice!”

We walked through the farmer’s gate and caught sight of our first bite at the hill. Kel had planned and set the routes for the week so I’d not really looked, but true to form, it was a steep start for which she is famous. Dicko glared up the route and announced,

“Hydey, get my buff out of my day sack, I think I’m gonna sweat!” I realised I could look forward to the stench of red wine oozing from his forehead as I follow him up the hill.

We had left most of the crowd at the farm, they were heading up Scafell, but there was still a good trickle of walkers clambering their way up the stony ascent to what I could see was a fairly level platform at the top. Before long we were hands on and hearts were pumping as the ‘car park’ at the bottom got smaller and smaller.

Again the waterfall was a mere trickle as the rain fall of late had been minimal. A couple of lads were Gill scrambling and again I thought I’d like to do a bit of that. I take scrambles in my stride and love the feel of the rock; it feels closer than just walking. We reached the top of the initial climb and stopped for a breather at the stone wall near the top.

At the caravan Id ‘ummed and arrd’ about putting a belt on my shorts in the end I’d decided they seem to be staying up ok without, so decided against it. Bad decision, my shorts were now hanging down my backside and were bugging me to death. I mentioned it to Dicko who freely gave up his own belt as his size 38 shorts were tight enough (just kidding mate).

So, with my JLS impressions done, we pressed on up the fairly eventless route to the saddle at Blackmoor Pols and my shorts were firmly in place. As Dicko wasn’t too bothered about bagging the Wainwright of Base Brown, he’d agreed to do ‘bag watch’ as we raced to the summit of the boggy peak. I was thinking this may be another Thunacar Knott but at the top, the view is amazing.

A quick few piccys and we were heading back to Dicko who was taking in the sun. The subject of bait, as usual, reared its head with Kel probably hoping we would eat here but the decision was made that the top of Green Gable would be lunchtime.

If there’s one way to get Kel up a mountain it’s telling her food is there waiting. Another eventless skip to the top of Green Gable was littered with the occasional spin round to take in the view as it became greater as we got higher.

The cloud was fairly high giving up the fells stretching north south east and west. I was ready for my well-earned sandwich when we arrived at the summit and a nice little stone built shelter was empty, considering the amount of people at the top, it was a good breeze break.

Bags unpacked and my ham, cheese and coleslaw sarnies were going down well as we watched the endless stream of people going up and down. A friendly black Spaniel entertained us as he sniffed out my tasty buttie. A quick whisper in the curious mutts ear saved him a scalding from Kel as not to get too close to her feast.

After a leisurely (ish) bite and my phone going mad with emails as this was the first signal in ages, I had a little look at Gable Crag. What an awesome sight the sheer face offered, I was even treated to a party of climbers edging their way up the tempting wall, what great way to conquer Great Gable.

Anyway, back to the scree decent of GG to Windy Gap before the final ascent of Great Gable. It looked a very good climb and I was again amazed by the amount of ill equipped hikers.  Why spend about £130 on your own boots, then let your 8 year old wander around the highest peaks in ‘Dora the Explorer’ trainers…..maybe it’s just me!

The ascent of the ‘Great’ had looked a bit of a climb and before long the terrain was reminiscent of Scafell with its boulders and dust, a scramble was in order. I have climbed quite a few peaks in my time I’ve never heard the sound as I did today, it sounded squeaky.   The Wheatears where few and far between, but that’s not their call, what was this mysterious sound?? As I stared up towards another false summit I realised the source of this curious call, it was the nervous squeak of the lesser twaddled Geordie, it makes this sound when faced with a cheeky scramble. Dicko doesn’t like scrambles, especially when there’s a party of school kids coming down causing mini avalanches as they descend.


The route levelled as and the summit loomed and the clouds were getting higher. As we approached the rocky peak I immediately noticed memorial plaque at the top. I had thought Kel had been preoccupied on route to the top of this magnificent place, it was the anniversary of her dad’s untimely death and this would be hard day for her. Gordon, her dad, was very instrumental in the growth and maintenance of the Church Lads’ Brigade in the area where she was brought up. In those days anything like the Brigade, Scouts and Girl Guides would bring communities together and gave the kids an outlet. He was a true pillar of the village and his legacy his famous there. I could see this to be a memorable moment which we both shared.


It was heaving with people and I could see why, I could see the Isle Of Man and Scotland plus most of the Wainwrights we had climbed or we were due to climb. The route down was steep but fairly painless, I hate the descents. Dicko was still singing the 70’s classic ‘Yes Sir, I can boogie’, a song I intentionally inject into his head at the start of a walk, with a mere text or whistle just to annoy everyone else, I myself was enjoying a bit of Spandau Ballet…….”Gold, always believe in your………”

The lovely level ground near Sty Head Tarn was a relief from the pounding descent and I got first view of Dicko’s lowering shorts, which he’d been shinfing on about since he’d loaned me his belt, and there it was – Y fronts!?!?

Styhead Gill is an excellent sight and the bridge is a warm welcome to the last ‘click’ to the car.  The brief walk back to Seathwaite was uncomfortable as Dicko had prayed on my guilt so much on the descent I’d returned his belt at the bridge. I’d had to fold my shorts over three times to deter their own descent as we approached the farm we’d exited hours before. At this point I’d like to pass on some countryside information, when opening a gate, please keep your ‘bits’ away from the oncoming swing gate, Dicko is a testament.

The walk back to the car was as nervous as Dicko on the scramble, in my mind I pictured a little red mess where my Aygo once stood – subject to ignored shunts with no details exchanged. Luckily all was ok!

A pint in the Scafell Hotel finished the day. 

“God save you Lillibet!!”


4 thoughts on “A gallop up the Gables (and Base Brown)

  1. Tanya Oliver (@heelwalker1)

    Loved this blog! A real sense of the serious climbing but with the fun and laughing at yourselves and each other moments that make hiking so fab. 🙂

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