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High jinks on Napes Needle.

High jinks on Napes Needle.


Postby trailmasher » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:04 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Base Brown, Great Gable, Green Gable, Kirk Fell

Hewitts included on this walk: Base Brown, Great Gable, Green Gable, Kirk Fell

Date walked: 28/07/2006

Time taken: 7.42

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1485m

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As can be seen from the date of the walk this report is of a golden oldie, so apologies for that.


Napes Needle.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We (Joe and myself) set off at 08:50hrs from the car park area at Seathwaite and followed the Taylorforce Gill path to Sty Head Tarn.
1 - Styhead Tarn and Great End.jpg
Sty Head Tarn and Great End.

From the tarn we took the Great Gable Girdle route from the stretcher box as far as Napes Needle and climbed up to the shoulder of the Needle where there were 3 climbers setting up a complex set of ropes to allow one of them to do a tightrope act from Needle Ridge to the top of the Needle itself.

4 - Great Gable and Napes Needle.jpg
Napes Needle.

They told us that they had been there since 09:00hrs Thurs 27th July setting up their ropes for the event. We climbed down the other side of the Needle which has to be done by feeling for a foothold as it is a bit of a stretch to the first toe hold. From there we climbed up to the dress circle to watch the show, taking photos as it happened. One of the climbers walked across the rope and back again to a round of applause from the four of us. There was only Joe and I plus the other two climbers taking photos watching this event, so quite an exclusive audience! We can only presume that it was a photo shoot for some magazine.

6 - Napes Needle.jpg
Napes Needle - 1

7 - Napes Needle tightrope.jpg
Napes Needle tightrope walk.

8 - Napes Needle tightrope.jpg
Napes Needle tightrope halfway there.

9 - napes Needle tightrope walk.jpg
Now to get back.

10 - Napes Needle tightrope walk.jpg
Leaving Napes and doing well.

11 - Napes Needle tightrope walk.jpg
Having a rest on the rope.

5 - Wast Water from Napes Needle.jpg
Wast Water from Napes Needle.

Apologies for the quality of my photos but they are decent record shots of a unique occurrence.

Leaving there we then proceeded to the Sphinx from where we made our way up the front of Gable to the Westmorland Cairn which was built in 1876 by two brothers of the same name - the story of this is in A.Wainwright's book The Western Fells, Great Gable 28 - and then the summit cairn on which is attached a bronze war memorial plaque courtesy of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club and dedicated in 1924. Every November on Remembrance Day many people find their way up Gable to pay their respects to the fallen of the 1st World War.

2 - Great Gables High Kern Knotts.jpg
Great Gables High Kern Knotts.

12 - Great Gable - the Sphinx.jpg
Great Gable - The Sphinx.

13 - Great Gable - the Sphinx and Wast Water.jpg
Great Gable - the Sphinx and Wast Water.

16 - Great Gable war memorial plaque on summit cairn.jpg
Great Gable war memorial plaque on summit cairn.

3 - Wasdale from Great Gable.jpg
Wasdale from Great Gable.

14 - Lingmell Beck and Scafell Pike from Great Gable.jpg
Lingmell Beck and Scafell Pike from Great Gable.

15 - Great Napes from Westmorland Crags.jpg
Great Napes from Westmorland Crags.

Having heard much about Moses and his nefarious activities of distilling illegal whisky and rumours of an old still somewhere on Gable Crag - which is on the North face of Gable - we elected to try and find it whilst in the area. We went down the crag a fair way and was working our way westwards when Joe shouted that he had seen something like a ruined building about 50ft below him. As I joined him I saw what was indeed the ruins of a stone building sat right under the crag but on a level area of grass covered ground.
17 - remains of Moses's whisky still.jpg
Is this the remains of Mose's whisky still?

18 - remains of Moses's whisky still.jpg
Mose's whisky still?

It has been said that Moses used the water from off Fleetwith Pike for his whisky making and also a suggestion that that was where he also did his distilling. This could make sense as I don't know who would want to cart water from Fleetwith Pike onto Great Gable along with all the other ingredients. As far as we could see Moses would have had to do a fair bit of climbing to get to his still and let's not forget the materials required to build the hut. On the plus side it is well hidden, a lot quieter than Fleetwith Pike would have been in those days, and he would probably have ended up in an Australian penal colony if found out.

From Gable we then descended to Beckhead Tarn, (which was dried up) electing to use the screes as our way down and that is where we had our lunch break. We wondered about having an early day due to the rigours of climbing around Great Gable but after we had eaten, rested, and me looking longingly at Rib End we decided to climb Kirk Fell.
22 - Kirk Fell Rib End from Beck Head.jpg
Kirk Fell and Rib End from Beck Head.

19 - Pillar-Seat and High Stile from Kirk Fell.jpg
Pillar - Seat and High Stile from Kirk Fell.

Kirk Fell was conquered and we returned to Beck Head from where we took off to pick up the Gable Girdle path at the bottom of the Great Gable route which runs up the rocks at the extreme north of Gable Crag, following it as it went under Gable Crag and then on to Windy Gap from where we then proceeded to the summit of Green Gable.
20 - Great Gable from Green Gable summit cairn.jpg
Great Gable from Green Gable summit cairn.

21 - Scafell Pike from Green Gable.jpg
Scafell Pike from Green Gable.

Leaving Green Gable we then took the path down Gillercombe but broke off to the right and took the path to the summit of Base Brown.
23 - Base Brown summit.jpg
Base Brown summit.

We then had to retrace our steps back to the Gillercombe path and then descended back down to Seathwaite via Sour Milk Gill. A bit of a steep and rocky descent down the gill but there wasn't much water about and the slabs were nice and dry making for an easy drop off.

When I got home I did find a path marked on the OS Map that would have taken us down the North face of Base Brown and therefore saving quite a lot of mileage but, it is now in the memory banks for future visits to the area.

A very good exciting walk made all the better for the scaling of Great Gables flank from Napes Needle to Westmorland Cairn.

The day started off sunny and cool but soon warmed up to a very hot mid-morning and lasting through the rest of the day. As we arrived on the summit of Great Gable the mist came down from Scafell Pike and settled itself upon Gable for a while but the sun soon burnt it off.

Length of walk was approx 10 miles and took 7¾ hrs to complete including watching the tightrope act, looking for the old still, rest periods, and stops to take photos.
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trailmasher
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby Beaner001 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:47 pm

Golden oldie or not I really enjoyed it so thanks for posting :clap:
You wouldn't catch me on that tightrope :lol:
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:14 am

Great report Trailmasher (oldie or not) Don't know why you're apologising for the quality of the images half way through, they look great. :thumbup: As for that guy on a tightrope :shock: I'm all for a narrow ledge and a bit of excitement but that's taking it too far :lol:
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:08 am

Yep: oldie or not, this is a great report, and reminds me why I'm going to try this area again.

I've been round these hills (Wasdale Horseshoe route) twice, both times in clag with mostly 50m visibility; so it's great to see what I should have seen!
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby Guinessman » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:55 pm

Been years since I've been that way, thanks for posting.
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:37 pm

Beaner001 wrote:Golden oldie or not I really enjoyed it so thanks for posting :clap:
You wouldn't catch me on that tightrope :lol:

Aye, made the buttocks clench a bit watching him.
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:43 pm

ChrisW wrote:Great report Trailmasher (oldie or not) Don't know why you're apologising for the quality of the images half way through, they look great. :thumbup: As for that guy on a tightrope :shock: I'm all for a narrow ledge and a bit of excitement but that's taking it too far :lol:

We were just in the right place at the right time Chris and it was the tightrope photos not too happy with. :( But hey ho at least I got a record of the event :D
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:47 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Yep: oldie or not, this is a great report, and reminds me why I'm going to try this area again.

I've been round these hills (Wasdale Horseshoe route) twice, both times in clag with mostly 50m visibility; so it's great to see what I should have seen!

Thanks for your kind reply. First time I did the horseshoe it was similar to your two trips. But been lucky with the weather since then apart from strong winds :)
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:49 pm

Guinessman wrote:Been years since I've been that way, thanks for posting.

Thank you and it's always a great place for a stroll out :wink:
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby simon-b » Sun Mar 15, 2015 6:14 pm

Nothing wrong with those photos, trailmasher.

That tight rope walk might have been something, but shouldn't take attention away from your own achievement in threading the needle; that was also pretty special. But I bet looking up at that rope make your situation seem a little less scary by comparison!
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:36 pm

simon-b wrote:Nothing wrong with those photos, trailmasher.

That tight rope walk might have been something, but shouldn't take attention away from your own achievement in threading the needle; that was also pretty special. But I bet looking up at that rope make your situation seem a little less scary by comparison!

Thanks for your comments SB and watching him made it feel as though I was sat in the chummies in the local flea pit.
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby mamoset » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:54 pm

Lucky you seeing that on the Needle, would loved to have seen that bit of entertainment. I read somewhere before about the distilling of alcohol amongst the Lake District and it's transportation in bladder skins of various cattle and sheep, hence the term, had a skinful.
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Re: High jinks on Napes Needle.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:54 pm

mamoset wrote:Lucky you seeing that on the Needle, would loved to have seen that bit of entertainment. I read somewhere before about the distilling of alcohol amongst the Lake District and it's transportation in bladder skins of various cattle and sheep, hence the term, had a skinful.

Yes, very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and I think most of us has had a skinful at sometime or other :roll:
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