XC guide from Ennerdale to Screes via Great Gable

David Ashcroft - 18/03/2007

Ennerdale > Great Gable > Screes
N or NNE, preferably moderate (tricky in light winds). Normally a none-return flight past Great Gable as the wind tends to turn into the Ennerdale valley, and sea breeze can veer the wind west while you are away.
Preferably sunny, but quite possible to fly all the way dynamically – but beware of venturi at the back of the bowls before Pillar.
XC from Ennerdale:
5 minutes walk from car park at the west end of the lake. The condition of the lake will indicate the wind direction, strength and gusts.
20 minutes to take-off just above Angler’s Crag - the prominent bump above the lake.
Set off on XC as high as possible above Crag Fell straight towards and along the front of the next hill, Ennerdale Fell. If you still have a few hundred feet above this ledge and doubt if you'll get any more height hanging around here, then fly down wind to the back of the 1st of 4 bowl's - a long glide (1 mile)! But, if you are only level with this ledge then it would be best to maintain (or top land) and wait to get some decent height. This first bowl has a very gentle incline until the far end where the wind is more concentrated. After this it's a matter of gaining maximum height and careful crossing of each spur. The bowls get deeper and more cliff like until you arrive at the west side of Pillar which has a safe incline and thermal source all the way to the valley bottom. This is a good spot to aim for if missing out the bowls via a couple of good thermals (or if gliding in from Burnbank or Red Pipe).
Be sure to top up for max height before heading for Great Gable, stopping where you find lift. Don't get low on this run - land at the top end of the valley if necessary and walk or ground handle up some of Gable until you can take off again. If you can't find grass to land on, then try one of the forestry tracks. A lot of the forest has been chopped down but this has left an ankle braking floor.
Work up Gable, get as high above it as possible and take in the view. No need to rush. Review the wind direction at height and behind on Sty Head Tarn and Wastwater. Decide whether to try and return to Ennerdale, go for distance, or return to the West Coast via the Wastwater Screes. Unless you thermal high above the top of Gable, it's best to leave above one of the sides and enter a route where you think there is least likely to be rotary or sinky. If blowing north or north-westerly, then it should work fine on the Screes via Lingmell. If it's more NE then you can go towards Coniston via Great End and Bow Fell.
I've flown to Great Gable and beyond many times from Ennerdale or Burnbank and only walked out once. If you've flown to Ambleside from Clough a few times in varying difficulties of lift, then this ridge run XC should be fine. Be happy to land rather than lose height, don't be put off by the remoteness of the area, but best buddy up or tell Mum what you intend to do.


Crag Fell with Pillar in the distance


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