The second Sunday in November. A day of respect and remembrance for those who fought and were killed in the First World War, and a day of respect and remembrance for those who are still fighting and dying. This is the day that many of us here in the Lake District make the 2-3 hour trek up to the top of Great Gable to pay our respects.
We were joined by a few groups of friends who were staying in Lake District cottages across the area. I do not know how six or seven hundred of us fitted at the top of the mountain but the two minutes' silence was substantial and wreaths were laid at the Fell & Rock Climbing Club memorial to those members who gone in the War.
There are several different ways up Great Gable – you can go from Wasdale Head, Honister Pass (at the very top of Borrowdale), or from Seathwaite (again, top end of Borrowdale, turn left before the road starts steeply up Honister Pass). We chose the Seathwaite route as we had Bruno with us, aged 5, and I think it's the least steep route (although you still have to get to the top of Gable when all's said and done).
When you park by the farm at Seathwaite, you then have the choice of climbing steeply up Sour Milk Gill to Green Gable and then across Windy Gap to Great Gable, or meandering further up the valley to Sty Head Tarn. We chose the latter. Just beyond Sty Head Tarn is the Stretcher Box (just in case) and here you need to hang in a right to go up Gable. Then just follow the path to the top. If you turn left at the Stretcher Box you go up Scafell, but that's another walk for another day.
At the top, the views are amazing. You can see so much – the Scafell range, the Helvellyn range, Pillar & Ennerdale, pretty much everything in fact.
We went down the same way to start with, but after Sty Head Tarn we did not turn right over the little wooden bridge that would have taken us down the meandering path to Seathwaite Farm, instead we stopped to the left of the stream and went down a really interesting path that was cut out of the hillside. I've no idea what it was called (who would have thought that I grew up in the Lake District) but it took us back down to Seathwaite Farm all the same. Be warned, it's tough on the knees, especially when a small boy is sitting on your shoulders. It was also quite waterlogged and slippery. But it's an interesting walk all the same.
I'd like to finish with some well known words from Wilfred Owen:
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori
8th Oct 1917-March 1918
The walk described is handy for anyone staying in one of several Keswick cottages in the area.