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.
Reaching almost 1,000 metres, Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and the heart of the most rugged scenery in the Lake District.
Standing on the summit of massive boulders, craggy flanks cut by giant ravines point towards other towering mountains. On a clear day, the view from the top is breathtaking. On a not-so-clear day, it is an excursion to an otherworldly place; a high, wild and rocky escape.
There are many routes to walk Scafell Pike. Most hikers start at 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 Scafell Pike is via the Corridor Route from Seathwaite. A long hike through the best of the area, it’s one of our favourite hikes in the Lake District. From grassy farmland to mist-shrouded ravines; expansive mountain vistas to remote reflective tarns, the views on the Scafell Pike Corridor Route change regularly until culminating in a boulder hopping scramble to the top.
This guide includes detailed instructions, useful information and the best places to enjoy a well-earned pint after hiking Scafell Pike.
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IN THIS GUIDE
HIKING SCAFELL PIKE, LAKE DISTRICT
A rugged diverse route up England’s highest mountain
14.8-kilometre round trip
6 hours 30 minutes
980 metres (+/-)
Late-May to mid-July
Medium to challenging – nothing technically difficult but a long ascent
WHAT IS THE CORRIDOR ROUTE TO SCAFELL PIKE LIKE?
Setting off on the Corridor Route along the River Derwent, a gradual climb takes you from farmland to an amphitheatre of rocky crags. Further up, rows of high mountains overlook the rocky trail that contours wrinkled gullies harbouring small waterfalls.
Closer to Scafell Pike, a rollercoaster of crags undulates over the massif’s twisted flanks, directly beneath the summit.
Towards the end of the walk, boulders mark the start of the easy scramble to the summit of Scafell Pike, where the Corridor Route meets the trail from Wasdale Head. The long descent skirts misty ghylls and scenic crags and passes the very scenic Sprinkling Tarn – one of our favourite places to swim in the Lake District.
WHY IS THE CORRIDOR ROUTE THE BEST WAY UP SCAFELL PIKE?
The Scafell Pike Corridor Route 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 Wasdale Head route.
The trail takes up an excellent position beneath the summit surrounded by some of the best views in the Lake District. With towering crags and deep ghylls, stunning views and hidden tarns, it’s the perfect path for appreciating the diversity of the area.
We’ve walked a lot in the area, and this is easily one of our favourite walks in the Lake District.
HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD
The Corridor Route to Scafell Pike begins at Seathwaite; a small farm with a campsite, located 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. Parking is 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 park to the beginning of the walk. If you arrive after 10 am it’s possible you’ll be adding an extra kilometre.
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. Therefore, to get to the Corridor Route via public transport, you will need to add an extra hour to the overall walk duration to get from Seatoller to Seathwaite and back again.
Fortunately, there are regular bus services if you are up for the extra walking. The 78 bus from Keswick runs to Seatoller roughly every hour.
In spring and summer, the 77 and 77A scenic bus operated by Stagecoach takes a circular route through Keswick, Seatoller and Buttermere and runs every 30 minutes.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SCAFFELL PIKE WALK FROM SEATHWAITE (CORRIDOR ROUTE)
Start the hike on the road leading to Seathwaite Farm where you’ll either be able to park on the side of the road or walk in from Seatoller if you arrived on the bus.
ASCENDING THE SCAFELL PIKE SUMMIT
Walk through the farm at Seathwaite and out the other side. Head south keeping the stream on your right until you reach a stone bridge (1 on the map). Turn right, cross over the bridge and, ignoring the path that turns steeply left, go straight ahead.
The path slowly veers left and steadily rises before crossing over a stream and reaching Sty Head tarn. After passing the tarn and reaching a confluence of paths turn left (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. This is the beginning of the Corridor Route.
The route crosses ravines as it gradually climbs. Ignore any routes that head very steeply up to your left and you will finally arrive at Lingmell Col (4 on the map) where you will be greeted by the army of walkers coming up from Wasdale Head. Turn left at the col and ascend to Scafell Pike summit.
DESCENDING VIA ESK HAUSE & RUDDY GILL
Descend from the summit in a north-east direction following the cairns. The path drops down then climbs back up Broad Crag, then drops again, climbing back up Ill Crag before flattening. (At point 5 on the map there is an easy optional detour to the summit of Great End).
As the path descends to the saddle at Esk Hause, take a left turn on a trail that almost doubles back on itself (6 on the map). It gently drops and bends left coming to a stream (Ruddy Gill). Follow the stream for a short time, but as it bends right and enters a gully, cross over the stream and turn right heading downhill (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 spots for wild swimming in the Lake District.)
After following the ravine for about 30 minutes, the path crosses over (8 on the map) and in another 10 minutes reaches Stockley Bridge. 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.
The summit is often cold and blustery regardless of what the weather is at the bottom.
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.
FACILITIES ON THE HIKE
Unlike some of our favourite hikes in the Italian Dolomites, hiking trails in the UK don’t generally have facilities on route. Scafell Pike via 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.
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.
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.
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 1,000m 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.
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MAP / SCAFELL PIKE VIA THE CORRIDOR ROUTE
All the hiking instructions covered in this article are embedded in our maps so you can follow them on your phone as you complete the Scafell Pike walk. We also recommend downloading maps.me for the area which has great coverage of the hiking paths.
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.
If you would like to be close to the Corridor Route trailhead, there are several great options near to Seatoller in Borrowdale. Keep in mind there are few facilities in this valley.
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.
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.
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.
TIPS FOR WALKING UP SCAFELL PIKE
1 – 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).
2 – Hiking poles can also help to bypass some of the strain from your legs to your arms. We don’t use them, but a lot of other hikers are big fans.
3 – 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.
4 – There are no shops or restaurants on the hike so make sure you take plenty of food and water with you.
5 – There’s an option to go for a very refreshing swim. So bring a towel, swimwear and a good dose of courage.
6 – Take a map and compass or phone. Reception can be patchy so download google maps offline before you go and save our map. Maps.me is also a very useful app with good coverage of hiking trails. For those that like traditional paper maps you’ll need Ordnance Survey OL4 & OL6.
MORE READING FOR YOUR LAKE DISTRICT TRIP
Lured by dramatic scenery and some of the best walking in the country, the Lake District is one part of England we keep going back to. Here are more of our guides to help you get the best out of this stunning part of England.
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