4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
The very highest point in England might be a bit of a dull lump but there's much more to Scafell Pike than its overcrowded summit.
This stern, stony mountain sprawls over a large area, its many impressive corners offering some of the grandest mountain scenery in the Lake District.
The justifiably popular approach along the Corridor Route takes you through the heart of it all.
Close the loop by heading over the mountain's three lesser tops, Broad Crag, Ill Crag and Great End, each as worthwhile as the Pike itself.
This walk ignores the Pike's near neighbour Scafell, the direct route to which is via the notorious rock step of Broad Stand, a serious little scramble best left to climbers. From Seathwaite farm in Borrowdale take the main path south, quickly meeting Grains Gill.
The path follows its east bank for about 1km.
Cross old the stone arch of Stockley Bridge and climb quite steely west on a well laid path to pass above the secretive little gorge of Taylorgill Force.
Follow Styhead Gill to Styhead Tarn, a scenic but much over-used wild camping spot.
Sty Head itself is a a little further on.
With its pivotal position at the heart of the Lakes this major col is inevitably a Spaghetti Junction of intertwining trails.
There's a little rocky knoll on the south side of the pass and paths go either side of this to meet up at the base of Skew Gill, one of several impressive ravines that are such a feature of this flank of the range.
You're now on the Corridor Route, a well trodden (in parts quite eroded) trail that makes a spectacular rising traverse across a hillside of cliffy knobbles and deep dark gills.
Pass under the little bastion of Round How, and continue above the head of Piers Gill towards the Lingmell Col - in mist the profusion of trails can be confusing.
Cairns guide the stony ascent onto Scafell Pike, where you're likely to have company.
Because of its domed breadth England's highest summit isn't really its best viewpoint - you'll get better photos if you wander around the plateau a bit. Heading roughly northeast a stony path descends to a pronounced saddle above Little Narrowcove.
From here the main route skirts just right of Broad Crag but it's better climbed than avoided.
Bouldery ground then leads into another high col.
Again the main path skirts wide of the summit of Ill Crag, but this is definitely worth including for its impressive outlook over wild Eskdale.
Continuing north (ish) the rocky ridge narrows a little, before the well-used descent to the col at the head of Calf Cove (not named on some maps).
Given the numbers on Scafell Pike comparatively few people seem to bother with Great End, but that's not the only reason it's better to climb it than ignore it.
Northwards from this final summit in the chain the ground drops all the way into Borrowdale, making this arguably the best viewpoint of the day.
You might descend the southeast flank but it's just as easy to retrace your steps briefly to go down via Calf Cove.
Follow the path to Esk Hause, another pivotal pass / motorway interchange.
just before the low point of the col cut north on a path that runs below the rambling northeast face of Great End (home of classic winter climbs) to another path junction above Ruddy Gill.
Take the trail on the east bank of this gorge, descending steadily back to Grains Gill and Stockley Bridge.
Return to Seathwaite the way you came.
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Sep 2011