To the north east of Scafell Pike lies Seathwaite, a small hamlet comprising of a few farm buildings and a camp site. Deep in Borrowdale, south of Keswick, it may seem an unlikely starting point for a Western Lakes fell. Yet it is popular, not just with those on a National 3 Peaks charity challenge but those who seek a fabled path called the Corridor Route. This runs southwards from the pass of Sty Head to Lingmell Col under the northern slopes of the Pike. In days gone by it was called the Guides Route from when a gentleman of wealth in the Victorian era would invariably pay a local person to guide him to the highest point of England. It was a grand route then, and still is today. Easier perhaps with the laying of stone pitched paths but the way is still unmarked, as it should be, save for the passage of feet and an occasional cairn.
Our walk follows the classic route from Seathwaite, over the packhorse Stockley Bridge, to ascend above Taylorgill Force which you can only see on the approach down in the valley. Following Styhead Gill, Styhead Tarn is quickly revealed, and the pass between Borrowdale to the north and Wasdale in the south climbed. A sneaky guide's short-cut over the saddle joins on to the start of the Corridor Route. You then meander in a gently rising traverse across the slopes and combes of the north west face of Great End and Broad Crag to arrive at Lingmell Col. From here you join the caravan of trekkers coming up from Wasdale on the final section of the path, which is loose and steep, to the summit of Scafell Pike. You return the same way.
There is some parking along the Seathwaite roadside, however, it does get very busy at holiday times, and weekends especially in the summer. Please park considerately and not obstruct access for tractors, fire engines, or field entrances.
There are also two bus services which run from Keswick past the end of the road down to Seathwaite:
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Scafell Pike; and includes 1 Furth, 1 Wainwright, 1 Birkett, 1 Marilyn, 1 Hewitt, 1 Nuttall, 1 HuMP, 1 County Top - Administrative, 1 County Top - Historic, and 1 County Top - Current County and Unitary Authority.
If you need accommodation we have details of 13 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Walk to the end of the Seathwaite road, continue through the farmyard between buildings on either side of the thoroughfare, exit through a gate at the far side. Follow this rough track around the edge of one enclosure and on southwards into the valley, with a beck on your right which later become the head waters of the River Derwent.
As you proceed through the valley you get a good view of Aaron Crags on the northern slopes of Seathwaite Fell ahead, Taylorgill Force appears in the stand of trees to the right.
Pass through a couple more gates and swing right to cross Stockley Bridge.
Go through the gate ahead and follow the path rising to another gate in the wall below Aaron Crags. Through the gate and immediately turn right to cross a beck coming down from Greenhow Knott, continue on the path rising steadily in a sweeping arc above the ravine of Taylorgill Force - the waterfall is hidden from here.
The path now swings south west and rises steadily, the ground underfoot is eroded and rough in places. Eventually the gradient eases and the path joins directly alongside Styhead Gill. Nearing the footbridge it deteriorates further, keep near the gill for the easiest way through the boulders.
Cross the gill by the footbridge then bear left to continue on the western bank, Styhead Tarn soon appears with the crest of the pass a little beyond.
The iconic MRT Stretcher Box sits on the saddle of Sty Head, as you near it bear left to cut across the lowest point crossing a boggy patch via the stepping stones. Continue over on grass and swing left to round a knoll with a spot height of
Reaching the Corridor Route just before Skew Gill turn right, cross the gill and climb the rough bank the other side. The rock here is a shade of deep red. Bearing left climb further joining the stone pitched path. After a short rise bear right and climb less steeply generally southwards following the clear path.
The towering crags above to the left are of Great End - the abrupt north eastern termination of the Scafell ridge. The saddle on the skyline ahead is Lingmell Col, Lingmell to the right and Scafell Pike to the left.
Rounding a corner the infamous 'rocky step' appears. Keep left descending little gullies until the final step down is presented. Now bear right again with a gully heading left to right. A tongue of rock may help with hand and foot holds and it's possibly easier to face inwards and down climb.
At the bottom of the step continue to the head of the ravine keeping level and do not descend into it. Cross the open ground that drains into Greta Gill and swing right below Broad Crag. Ignore the path off to the left which goes to Broad Crag col. Continue around to the right. Rounding another corner cross the head of the dramatic Piers Gill.
Lingmell Col is now ahead and somewhere above. Keep left and look for the cairns marking the way over rocky ground to the col. Remember the last cairn as you will need it as a landmark on the return journey.
On Lingmell Col, turn left and join the path coming up from the Wasdale valley.
The path is now loose scree over boulders with a succession of cairns marking the way. After a steep climb the path turns right and climbs along sloping slabs, before making a turn back left. To the edge of the summit plateau the path remains steep with loose small stones.
The edge of the plateau is marked by a substantial cairn, the stepped cairn and trig point of Scafell Pike summit comes into view across the final boulder field.
Retrace your steps for the return journey. However, in mist finding your way off the summit needs care if you are not to end up in the wrong valley.
From the summit cairn you need to head NNW for no more than 100m (110 yards) to pick up the line of cairns over the summit plateau and on to the large cairn at its edge. Then bear slightly left, north west, to descend the loose stony path, bearing right onto the sloping slabs again, and then left to drop to just above the col.
Approaching Lingmell Col, before the path swings left, bear right to pick up the cairn noted on the outward journey. Follow the cairns over the edge and down through the rocky ground. At the bottom join the clear path once again.
Follow around the head of Piers Gill and then bear right around the shoulder - do not continue alongside the gill or drop down into it.
Cross the open ground below Round How, then around Greta Gill as before to the bottom of the rocky step. Arrows remind you to climb the step. As before, climb the tongue of rocky hand and footholds going left to right and at the top of the first bit bear left along the gullies. At the top of the step bear right around the shoulder to continue towards Sty Head.
Drop down to cross Skew Gill and shortly after take the faint path which bears left to short-cut across the damp depression, around the knoll, and up to Sty Head. Cross the grass and down to Styhead Tarn on the left bank.
Continue to the footbridge and cross the gill, keep close to the bank to pick up the clear path once across the rough ground.
Descend all the way to Stockley Bridge and then bear left back to Seathwaite on the track.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Base Brown, Green Gable, Great Gable and Seathwaite Fell||63m (69 yards) away|
|Grey Knotts and Brandreth circular from Honister||1.7km (1.0 miles) away|
|The Glaramara Wainwrights||1.8km (1.1 miles) away|
|Eagle Crag, Sergeant's Crag and Ullscarf||3.0km (1.9 miles) away|
|Skinny Dipping in Blackmoss Pot||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Castle Crag - Borrowdale||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Millican Dalton's Cave - Castle Crag, Borrowdale||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Dock Tarn, Great Crag, and Watendlath, from Rosthwaite||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|A Short Walk to The Bowder Stone||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Lodore Falls, Watendlath, Grange Fell, and the Bowder Stone circular||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Fleetwith Pike via Fleetwith Edge||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Haystacks||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011