The End of Great Gable

For the past year I’ve been spending most of my spare hill time focused around one particular mountain in the Lake District – Great Gable.

The reason, as most regular readers will know, is that I’ve been working on a year in the life of said mound of rock for Trail magazine which will be published in a couple of months.

The project officially started with a bleak day on snow capped Gable for the Remembrance service last November, and last week I finished it off with a rather frosty overnight camp on Great End.

I can’t profess to have captured any one outstanding – wow – fall off your chair dramatic shot, but then a year is a year and you take whatever conditions get thrown at you.

I seem to have been veering between thick heavy impenetrable cloud and clear blue skies in the Lake District since January; neither of which are ideal for mountain drama of the photographic kind.

Still, this one last evening/morning gave me some of the best light I’ve had all year, if only a clear blue backdrop to work with once again.

It’s approaching the end of wild camping season for me, and I couldn’t quite decide whether to aim for Borrowdale YHA and a pleasant evening by the fire in the pub or freeze my arse off in the tent on top of a hill. Yes, I know, bear with me.

The pub option is grand, but then I have to get up at 4.30am to be where I want to be to shoot. And the former isn’t particularly conducive to the latter.

The camping option means no evening fire and beer on tap, but does mean I get to roll out of the sleeping bag at a reasonable hour, particularly at this time of year.

So camp again it was. I know lots of folk wild camp for wild camping’s sake but I only really do it as a means to a photographic end. As previously mentioned, it avoids the need for stupidly early starts, particularly in summer with its ghastly 4.30 sunrises.

Still we can rejoice as lovely winter and even more lovely 8.30am sunrises are almost upon us 🙂

Anyway, before I start waffling on about winter, I best meander towards some photos…

The aim was to camp on Great End, and the route was a direct return raid up via Grains Gill and Esk Hause. I mistimed things slightly and wasn’t up on high quite as early as I’d planned and ended up pitching by the light of the head torch rather than the setting sun.

As I approached the top of Grains Gill I could see that if I legged it I would be able to catch some of the dying embers of the day, as the cloud hat Great Gable was wearing was beginning to blush a deep pink.

The scene overview:

My final take on the scene, zooming in and layering the fells under the drifting pink:



Obviously this burst of lovely light delayed my camp even more, but it didn’t last long so there was nothing else to distract me from the walk up round the back of Great End via Esk Hause.

The wind as usual had a bit of force on the summit, but a bit of detailed investigation (wandering around aimlessly, muttering) led me to a more sheltered patch next to the rocky final ascent of Broad Crag.

In my head when these things are planned, I’m always sat outside the tent enjoying a glorious evening, watching the sun fade over the surrounding fell tops. Anyway, it was dark and bloody cold so I snuggled up with a book and several wee drams…

As is often the case, the hardest move of the day is actually getting out of the snuggly sleeping bag and emerging into the chilly mountain air. Doubly so when it’s chilly enough to freeze the tent. (phone pic)

As I was pitching the previous evening the cloud had been swirling and thickening, and I’d hoped to find some of it lingering into the morning, but the skies were almost totally clear.

There were what looked like perfect temperature inversion conditions over the distant lakes and valleys, but none of the cloud reached far or high enough to creep into my foreground.

I wanted to try and create something from the cool tones of the shadowy foreground and frosty rocks against the warmth of the light on the distant fells, but couldn’t create anything ideal from the foreground jumble without losing the impact of the hills somewhat.

Still, I quite like some of the results as a record of the morning.

And of course I couldn’t leave without stitching a panoramic version of the view

And that was it. The intensity of the light was waning and I was just about done with Great Gable for one year.

Time for a sit down.


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