Walk 1114 - printer friendly version
Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via Corridor Route Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 9.5 miles / 15.4 km
Ascent - 3200 feet / 970 metres
Grade - hard
Start - OS grid reference NY235121
Lat 54.49843 + Long -3.1827147
Postcode CA12 5XJ (approx. location only)
At 3208 ft (978 m) the summit of Scafell Pike as the highest point in England is a magnet for walkers and tourists alike. Blessed with a fine day - good visibility, lots of sunshine, blue skies and the necessary energy - we parked at Seathwaite farm in the idyllic surrounds of upper Borrowdale (grid ref. NY235121).
This classic Lake District walk, recommended by Wainwright himself, took us up the main valley path to Stockley Bridge. From here we turned right and followed Styhead Gill up alongside Taylorgill Force waterfall and on to Styhead Tarn. By the time we reached here the cloud hovering over the summit of Scafell Pike was beginning to lift and our feet surged forward with renewed vigour to reach the first aid box at Sty Head.
The onward path by the corridor route is amazing. Splendid mountain scenery, constant interest and summit as yet hidden from view. Across the valley Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar and Red Pike (Wasdale) all vie for your attention. Aiming for Lingmell Col, you cross a number of ravines, of which Piers Gill is the most spectacular. Shapely Lingmell is probably rarely climbed as a main objective, overshadowed as it is by more lofty neighbours. However the short diversion to its summit cairn is well worth the effort for the views into Wasdale are tremendous.
From Lingmell Col the path turns left and the next section is a bit of a trudge. However the path across stony ground is well marked by cairns and you are soon in sight of the summit cairn on Scafell Pike. Luckily there were few people on the summit and we were able to enjoy the solitude and views from this superb mountain.
Eventually our descent was started - always an anti-climax when one has topped a mountain. The first section "downhill" is rocky underfoot and care must be taken. However the views still occupy your mind and there are worthwhile diversions to the separate summits of Broad and Ill Crags to keep you busy. Ahead of you lies a panorama of the northern fells which is best appreciated by climbing to the summit of Great End which occupies a grand position overlooking Borrowdale and Derwentwater.
The ascent of Great End takes only a few minutes. The extra ascent towards the end of the day can be tough on the legs but the view is worth the pain. If you do add this extension then return directly to the main Scafell Pike path just above Esk Hause. One advantage of climbing Great End is that you are able to see most of your route including Styhead Tarn and sections of the corridor route together with Scafell Pike summit and Lingmell.
Reaching Esk Hause turn left down to the shelter and left again towards Sprinkling Tarn. Underneath the main buttress of Great End you take the path down alongside Ruddy Gill which feeds into Grains Gill. This flows back past Stockley Bridge to lead you unerringly to Seathwaite Farm.
Climbing Scafell Pike is a long fell walk. It took us at least seven hours to complete and that was in fine weather and with reasonable levels of fitness. In theory the fell can be tackled by anyone with some experience and even if the summit is beyond your capabilities then there is no excuse for not exploring the wonders of the "corridor route" from Styhead to Lingmell Col.
The paths vary in quality. As far as Lingmell Col it is fairly easy going under foot with only one section where the path is difficult (adjacent to Piers Gill). From Lingmell Col to Esk Hause it is hard on your ankles and relatively slow going. Once Esk Hause is reached it is easy going all the way back to Seathwaite.