Scafell Pike by the Corridor Route
Scafell Pike is a particularly complex mountain. Its main ridge is a roller coaster of rocky summits and narrow cols buttressed by a multitude of towering crags and deeply indented gills. On all sides, its flanks twist and turn in a seemingly illogical manor extending their influence all the way out to Langdale, Borrowdale, Wasdale and Eskdale. This geography, at first glance seems a little baffling, closer inspection will however excite walkers with a sense of adventure. High, wild and rocky the main crests always throws up a challenge, regardless of whether it’s the middle of summer under blistering blue skies or a short winters’ day with roaring winds and driven snow.
The easiest route to Scafell Pike is the direct line via Brown Tongue from Wasdale. This route whilst popular with people who just want to bag the summit only really scratches the surface of what’s on offer. A better choice is to indulge in a longer approach that explores all the nuances of this great mountain range. Cutting across the western flank of the range from Sty Head and gaining height steadily is an interconnecting high-level shelf called the ‘Corridor Route’. This natural path puts you in a stunning position below Scafell’s mighty summit dome at Lingmell Col where it meets with the Brown Tongue path. From here you can gain the summit and then descend to Wasdale down Brown Tongue Path. By doing this circular route you’ll get to reach roof of England, but also, along the way you’ll witness peerless mountain architecture.
Distance 12.8km (8 miles)
Total ascent 1070m
Time 6.5 hours
Start/finish Wasdale Head GR NY186085
Terrain Farm tracks, stony bridleway, scree, steep mountain sides, high mountain cols, narrow rocky path, rocky gills, rock steps, exposed col, boulder field and rocky summit.
OS Landranger 89 or 90 (1:50 000)
OS Explorer OL6 & OL4 (1:25 000)
Harveys Superwalker XT25 Lake District West (1:25 000)
British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40 000)
- NY186085 From the car park at Wasdale Head Green take the track that heads northeast to the farm at Burnthwaite passing St Olaf’s church along the way. At Burnthwaite go past the farm and turn right to join the Sty Head bridleway. The bridleway climbs in a long steep traverse across the slopes and screes of the southern flank of Great Gable to gain Sty Head.
- NY218095 Sty Head is a particularly important mountain pass. Ancient packhorse routes from all the major valleys converge at its exposed col the top of the pass is marked by a mountain rescue stretcher box. The start of the Corridor Route lays 300m to the east from the stretcher box along the Esk Hause bridleway. It is a very narrow path that descends off to the right and is easily missed. It first crosses below the steep dark crags of Spout Head and then encounters the bottom of Skew Gill. Cross Skew Gill and make the easy scramble up the short sidewall opposite. After Skew Gill the Corridor Route makes a slowly rising traverse across the northwestern flanks of Great End and Broad Crag to reach the broad saddle of Lingmell Col. Most of the way the path is easy to follow but in recent years, around the head of Greta Gill and Piers Gill, there have been a number of wash-outs that have exposed bare rock and made the path less obvious. Avoid at all costs heading down into the gills either in the bed of the gills or the side paths.
- NY211077 At its high point the Corridor Route reaches southern side of Lingmell Col, from here you turn left and head south then southeast towards Scafell Pike’s summit. Although the path between the col and the summit sees lots of traffic the rocky nature of the ground means it can be easily lost so its worth paying attention particularly in the mist or snow.
- NY215072 Scafell Pike’s summit is worth exploring to get the best of the views, particularly impressive if you like big drops are those views down into Eskdale. Being mostly stones and bare rock, paths are not that obvious from the summit of Scafell Pike so it is worth taking a bearing to make sure you pickup the right route from the top. Re-trace your steps back down to Lingmell Col.
- NY211076 From Lingmell Col ignore the Corridor Route instead take the path that forks left and descends southwest to Hollow Stones. Continue along the path as it swings west and descends down the moraine of Brown Tongue. At the bottom of Brown Tongue cross Lingmell Gill for 300m until a path breaks off left follow this steeply down as it traverses the fellside to eventully arrive at a footbridge over Lingmell Beck.
- NY189081 Cross the bridge and then follow the path across the valley bottom to join the road. Turn right and return to the car park at Wasdale Head Green.