Search Site
Horizontal Line

The Riddle of Sphinx Rock

The life and times of Great Gable

Horizontal Line

Ebook format available, otherwise out of print.

‘Grand to look at, grand to look from, and grand to climb’ — so Great Gable was described over a hundred years ago. Probably the Lake District‘s best loved hill, it receives twenty thousand ascents each year and has seen the birth of two separate sorts of hill sport.

In The Riddle of Sphinx Rock, award-winning outdoor writer Ronald Turnbull asks why we find Great Gable so irresistibly attractive. His answer suggests that the greatness of Gable is far more than just a matter of getting to the top. As he walks, scrambles and climbs, he explores the subtleties of its terrain and its geology, history and myths. You’ll meet characters and locations that are an integral part of its story: Wordsworth and his Wheel of Fells, Fanny Mercer and her bad alpenstock technique, the Wadd Holes and Pillar Rock, Moses Rigg and Geoffrey Winthrop Young. By turns intriguing and funny, erudite and provocative, The Riddle of Sphinx Rock was chosen by Trail magazine as one of six top titles in its 'How To Be Mountain Literate' section. 

Available as an ebook:

Kindle (Amazon U.K. site)
Kindle (Amazon U.S. site)


Ronald Turnbull is the author of The Riddle of Sphinx Rock (a cultural biography of Great Gable) and The Life and Times of the Black Pig (a biography of Ben Macdui) – both published by Millrace Outdoor – as well as The Book of the Bivvy (on tentless travel) and walking guides to the Cairngorms and Ben Nevis and Glen Coe for Cicerone Press.

Turnbull was born in St Andrews, just across the Forth from Muir’s Dunbar. He now lives in Dumfriesshire, mid-way between the Lake District and the Highlands. He also walks in warm, Spanish-speaking corners of Europe. He has won the Outdoor Writers’ and Photographers’ Guild award for excellence five times (in various categories) and in 1994 gained the Fell Running Association’s long-distance trophy for a run over all the hills of southern Scotland. His full ‘cartload’ of books, as well as his recent walks in California and the Appalachians, is described on his website

  • Title: The Riddle of Sphinx Rock
  • Sub-title: The life and times of Great Gable
  • Author: Ronald Turnbull
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN: 9781906148973
  • Publication date: 20/02/2014
  • Price: £4.99

'A boutique history of one the UK’s most fascinating mountains, filled with memorable characters, classic routes and derring-do. Puts you in the historic thick of one of our most atmospheric and iconic mountains.'
, August 2008

. . .