back to Wainwright Classics
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.
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.