There are many routes up Scafell Pike but the Corridor Route from Seathwaite is the best. Covering 15 kilometres and rising 1,000 metres over about 6 hours; it’s a rugged exploration of the fells.

By: Paul | Last Updated: 11 Jun 2024 | Jump to Comments & Questions

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Reaching almost 1,000 metres, Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England.

On a clear day, the view from the top is breathtaking. On a not-so-clear day, this is an excursion to an otherworldly place; a high, wild, and rocky escape.

There are many routes to walk Scafell Pike. The most popular leaves from Wasdale Head, where a swift hike can have you back in the car in three hours.

Others leave the crowds behind and ascend from remote Eskdale.

But, in our opinion, the best way up is the Corridor Route from Seathwaite. This long hike captures some of the best scenery in the area including grassy farmland, mist-shrouded ravines, expansive mountain vistas and remote tarns.   

This guide includes detailed instructions, useful information, tips for avoiding a common unnecessary scramble, and the best places to enjoy a well-earned pint after the hike.

Sprinkling Tarn, a high lake on the route up Scarfell Pike in the Lake District.
SPRINKLING TARN

IN THIS GUIDE

SCAFELL PIKE CORRIDOR ROUTE


SUMMARY

A rugged diverse route up England’s highest mountain

DISTANCE

14.8-kilometre round trip

TIME

6 hours 30 minutes

ELEVATION

980 metres (+/-)

BEST TIME

Late-May to mid-July

DIFFICULTY

Medium to challenging – nothing technically difficult but a long ascent

GETTING THERE // INSTRUCTIONS // TRAIL CONDITIONS // FACILITIES // MAP

WHY IS THE CORRIDOR ROUTE THE BEST WAY UP SCAFELL PIKE?

In our opinion, the Corridor Route is the most scenic and interesting of the 5 routes up Scafell Pike.

The trail begins at Seathwaite, and takes advantage of an interconnected series of mountain shelves which steadily gain height.

This creates a natural trail requiring consistent, but achievable effort, rather than a steep slog like the popular Brown Tongue route from Wasdale Head.

The trail takes up an excellent position beneath the summits of Scafell Pike and Great End and is surrounded by some of the best views in the Lake District.

The walk includes towering crags, deep ghylls, stunning views and hidden tarns. You can combine the walk with an alternative route down creating an excellent circular day hike.

Mark and I have walked a lot in the area and this is not only our favourite way up Scafell Pike but one of the best walks in the Lake District.

Cloudy views at Scafell Pike
PIERS GHYLL UNDER LINGMELL COL

MAP / SCAFELL PIKE VIA THE CORRIDOR ROUTE

All the hiking instructions for the circular walk explained in this article are embedded in our map so you can follow along on your phone.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD

The hike begins at Seathwaite – a small farm with a campsite, 8 miles (12 kilometres) south of Keswick and 25 miles (40 kilometres) from Ambleside.

SEATHWAITE BY CAR / WHERE TO PARK

Seathwaite is a 25-minute drive from Keswick or a 55-minute drive from Ambleside.

You can generally get a park by the side of the road as you approach the farm. In summer, on weekends or during school holidays parking will get busy quickly. So, the earlier you arrive, the closer you’ll be able to park to the beginning of the walk.

If you arrive after 10 am it’s possible you’ll be adding an extra kilometre to the hike.

Make sure you leave enough room for passing cars and do not park in the turning circle by the farm.

SEATHWAITE BY BUS

Buses stop at Seatoller which is a 2-kilometre walk to the trailhead at Seathwaite.

The 78 bus from Keswick runs to Seatoller daily all year round (roughly every hour).

In spring and summer, the 77 and 77A scenic busses operated by Stagecoach takes a circular route through Keswick, Seatoller and Buttermere and run every 30 minutes.

If you plan on hiking the Corridor Route using public transport, you will need to add an extra hour (2km each way).

HIKE INSTRUCTIONS

ASCENDING SCAFELL PIKE

Begin at Seathwaite and walk south through the farm and out the other side.

Keep the stream on your right until you reach a stone bridge (point 1 on the map). Turn right, and go over Stockley Bridge crossing the stream. Ignore the path that turns steeply left on the other side and go straight ahead.

The path slowly veers left and steadily rises before crossing over Styhead Ghyll and reaching Sty Head Tarn.

After passing the tarn and reaching a confluence of paths turn left (point 2 on the map). A few hundred metres further (before the path starts rising too steeply), turn right on the trail that heads under the crags of Great End (point 3 on the map).

This is the official beginning of the Corridor Route.

Deep rocky crags on the Scafell Pike Hike in the Lake District
SKEW GHYLL
Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route
VIEW TO WASDALE HEAD

SCAFELL PIKE CORRIDOR ROUTE

The official Corridor Route runs from just above Styhead Tarn to Lingmell Col. The path contours under the immense face of Great End, rising across a series of ledges and working its way across several deep ghylls.

The first tricky section is Skew Ghyll which requires a short (slightly tricky) scramble down into the ghyll and up the other. Next up is striking Greta Ghyll, an easier ascent and descent which crosses above the main section of the ghyll.

Finally, you reach Piers Ghyll. This is the largest and deepest of them all. Do not try to descend and ascend the steep walls of the main ghyll. Instead, follow the path as it bends left to reach the top end of the ghyll.

Here cross over two streams (which require a small amount of scrambling) just before they drop into the ravine.

This is where most hikers on the Corridor Route make a mistake so, check your progress using the map above and stay ABOVE the main ghyll.

Once across the top end of the Piers Ghyll, the Corridor Route ascends more steeply to reach Lingmell Col (point 4 on the map).

large ravine on the corridor route, Scafell Pike
GRETA GHYLL

LINGMELL COL TO SCAFELL PIKE SUMMIT

At Lingmell Col turn left and join the army of walkers coming up from Wasdale Head.

This last section to the summit is a bit of a slog. Steeply rising over rock and loose stone, it can be a tedious finale to a wonderful ascent.

But on a clear day, the views are amazing.

The summit is a mass of dark grey rocks with numerous cairns, a trig point and a circular shelter to protect from the wind.

Explore the entire summit as different views open up in different directions.

The highlights are the triangular top of Bow Fell to the east, the vast flat expanse of the Great Moss to the north, the giant craggy face of Scafell to the west and the iconic summit of Great Gable to the north.

Scafell Pike Summit
GREAT MOSS FROM THE SOUTH SUMMIT

DESCENDING SCAFELL PIKE

You can descend back to Seathwaite the way you came, but we highly recommend completing this circular loop.

SCAFELL PIKE TO ESK HAUSE

Descend from the summit in a north-east direction following the cairns. This is a rocky trail and you are often stepping from one large boulder to the next.

The path drops down then climbs back up Broad Crag, then drops again, climbing back up Ill Crag before flattening. The path up and down the crags can be steep in places, and requires a bit of scrambling, but nothing too challenging.

At point 5 on the map, there is an easy optional detour to the summit of Great End, after which the trail gradually descends to Esk Hause.

ESK HAUSE TO SEATHWAITE

As the path descends to the saddle at Esk Hause, take a left turn on a trail that almost doubles back on itself (point 6 on the map).

It gently drops and bends left coming to a stream (Ruddy Ghyll). Follow the stream for a short time, but just before it bends right and enters a gully, turn right, cross over the stream and head downhill (point 7 on the map). The stream and attractive ravine are now on your left as you descend.

(Please note: a short detour brings you to Sprinkling Tarn one of the best (but coldest) spots for wild swimming in the Lake District.)

The path follows Ruddy Ghyll for about 30 minutes, then crosses over the ghyll (point 8 on the map). The stream is now on your right and soon merges with Grains Ghyll. In another 15 minutes, the trail reaches Stockley Bridge.

Turn right, cross the bridge and head back to the Seathwaite Farm.

TRAIL CONDITIONS ON THE CORRIDOR ROUTE

This walk up Scafell Pike via the Corridor route is long but not technically difficult. Hands may be needed on the odd short rocky section, but there are no knife-edge ridges, difficult scrambles or vertiginous drops near the trail.

The path is generally well-defined, but it can be slightly indistinct at times, so keep an eye on your map and pay attention to the signs.

In a couple of places the path is slightly exposed over the (very picturesque) ravines. Pay particular attention above Piers Ghyll.

The summit is often cold and blustery regardless of what the weather is at the bottom. Make sure you check the forecast and the base and at the summit using Mountain Forecast.

Important note – In thick cloud cover it can be very easy to make a mistake and head in the wrong direction off the summit. So take your time and check the GPS on your phone or use a compass.

Hikers on the top of Scafell Pike, Lake District
WESTERN SUMMIT

SCAFELL PIKE WEATHER

It’s always worth checking the weather before you go, and we recommend using Mountain Forecast.

It gives the weather conditions both at the base of the mountain and at the summit, making it easier to plan what clothes to bring on the hike.

Just click on Peak or Base to toggle between the two forecasts.

FACILITIES ON THE HIKE

Unlike some of our favourite hikes in the Italian Dolomites, hiking trails in the UK don’t generally have facilities. The Corridor Route is no exception. There are public toilets at Seathwaite Farm but that’s about it.

It’s best to bring your lunch with you and there are plenty of great spots to stop and admire the views while you chow down on a sandwich.

POST HIKE PINTS

For a post-hike drink, the garden at the Glaramara Hotel in Seatoller is a great option if you are arriving at the hike on the bus.

Right next to Glaramara, we also recommend The Yew Tree (Wednesday to Sunday), a recently refurbished pub with excellent food.

If you have a car, drive to Stonethwaite (10 minutes from Seathwaite) and grab a pint at the Langstrath Country Inn. It’s a traditional old walker’s pub with a few tables outside under an old tree.

Clouds below the summit of Scafell Pike, Lake District
SUMMIT APPROACH FROM LINGMELL COL

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO HIKE SCAFELL PIKE VIA THE CORRIDOR ROUTE?

Hiking up Scafell Pike is a serious undertaking and a full day’s adventure in the Lake District.

Allow 3 hours, 30 minutes to reach the summit, and around 3 hours to get back.

There are, however, plenty of photo opportunities along the way and climbing the 1,000 metres of Scafell Pike is tiring, so you’ll want to stop for a few breaks.

On a clear day allow for at least 45 minutes at the summit to explore the views from various different vantage points.

On the way down, there is an option for a short detour to go swimming in Sprinkling Tarn – a scenic lake overlooking the mountains. All the details are in our article on wild swimming in the Lake District.

scafell pike corridor route 21
GRAINS GHYLL DESCENT

WHERE TO STAY

For the convenience of a town while you’re hiking Scafell Pike, a good option is Keswick. It’s a 30-minute drive to Seathwaite to start the walk, or around the same time on the bus to Seatoller (a 2-kilometre walk from the trailhead).

In our guide on where to stay in the Lake District, we outline each of the main areas in the Lakes, along with hotel recommendations.

BUDGET

YHA BORROWDALE

This great budget option set by a river with excellent mountain views is a popular stop on the Coast to Coast. It has access to hundreds of walks in the area.


MID-MARKET

LANGSTRATH COUNTRY INN

This cosy country pub is beautifully positioned at the end of a lovely valley. Service is warm and friendly with a knockout full English breakfast.


OUR PICK

LOCATION

GLARAMARA

Located just 2 km from the trailhead, Glaramara is in a perfect position for a post-hike drink in a beautiful setting. Rooms are clean, corporate and functional.


A man swimming in a mountain lake in the Lake District near Scafell PIke.
SPRINKLING TARN

TIPS FOR WALKING UP SCAFELL PIKE

01 – The hike up Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route is long with a significant amount of ascent and the paths can be muddy any time of year. So we suggest proper hiking boots (we use something like these).

02 – Hiking poles can also help to bypass some of the strain from your legs to your arms. We don’t use them, but many hikers are big fans.

03 – Weather conditions in the Lake District change dramatically. Make sure you take a waterproof and some warm clothes. The walk is not in shade, so if you’re blessed with a hot day, bring sunblock and a hat.

04 – There are no shops or restaurants on the hike so make sure you take plenty of food and water with you.

05 – There’s an option to go for a very refreshing swim. So bring a towel, swimwear and a good dose of courage.

06 – Take a map and compass or phone. Reception can be patchy so download google maps offline before you go and save our map. If you like traditional paper maps, you’ll need Ordnance Survey OL4 & OL6.

paul mark 1
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- Paul & Mark.