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Scafell Pike from Borrowdale
by John Burland

Please note: This route covers some of the most remote terrain in the Lake District. Good navigational skills will be needed in adverse weather conditions
and walkers should be well equipped with adequate clothing appropriate for the time of year.

‘Why does a man climb mountains’, AW wrote in his Soliloquy in the Scafell Pike chapter of Book 4, The Southern Fells. Each of us has his own reasons and these are many and various. But I suppose one of the reasons most people climb
Scafell Pike is because it is the highest mountain in England. And you know when you have climbed it that you are definitely at the highest point in the country as
it is one of the few places where you look down on other giants of the Lake
District such as Great Gable.

Styhead Tarn

There are four main approaches to Scafell Pike from the various valleys, Borrowdale, Eskdale, Langdale and Wasdale. The latter is the shortest (but probably the steepest) but without doubt the finest approach is from Borrowdale via Sty Head and the Corridor Route.

Leaving Seathwaite Farm (limited parking nearby so get there early), you follow the path until you reach Stockley Bridge. Here the path to the left goes up Grains Ghyll and up to Esk Hause from whence you can get to the Pike, but the better approach is to turn right here and climb up the track, which has recently been improved, to Sty Head tarn.

Borrowdale from Grains Ghyll path

From here you cross the top of the tarn (the path going forward leads down to Wasdale, so don’t go wrong at this point) bearing left and then picking up a
track heading diagonally right, which leads to the commencement of the Corridor Route. This high level route, traversing across the lower slopes of Great End, Ill Crag and Broad Crag moves upwards in a series of gradual climbs, none of which
is excessively steep with a good path underfoot, although scrambling on rocks is required at some points, and provides some excellent scenery. The slopes of
Great Gable across the valley are constantly in view and the panorama down to Wasdale Head grows as the climb progresses. Also you get a very impressive
view down Piers Gyll.

Great Gable from Corridor Route

Upon reaching Lingmell Col you encounter the hoards coming up Scafell Pike from Wasdale, often quite a shock as the Corridor Route is usually quite sparsely populated by walkers. From here it is a question of following the crowds (and the many cairns) for the next half-mile to the summit of the Pike.

Birthdays, Anniversaries and many other occasions have been celebrated by people on the summit of Scafell Pike, and it is a natural gathering place for charity walkers as I experienced on my last ascent in May 2008. The summit is extremely stony and you will find it impossible to find a comfy seat in this cacophony of boulders but there is a modicum of comfort to be found in the shelter on the summit (if you can find space).

One disadvantage Scafell Pike has is that it attracts the clouds and often the views are hidden but I was fortunate in May 2008 to get some relatively good views from the summit. The view to Scafell and its crags is very impressive as is the view down Eskdale.

Mickledore & Broad Stand

To return to Borrowdale you can either reverse the route you have come or
better still head in a northerly direction skirting below the summits of Broad Crag and Ill Crag to drop to Esk Hause and then follow the track down Grains Gyll back to Stockley Bridge.

The approximate distance of this route was 13.5 miles with 3,200 feet of ascent.

More detailed information can be found in Wainwrights Pictorial Guide Book 4 - Southern Fells and also in Fellwalking with Wainwright.

Overlooking Mickledore to Scafell from Scafell Pike

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