This strenuous walk explores the ridge that links Great End and Scafell Pike. Starting at Wasdale Head we make for Sty Head, start onto the Corridor Route but then turn off to climb up some simple grassy slopes that take us to a quiet tarn and an impressive amphitheatre before we reach the ridge. After that we visit Great End, Ill Crag and Broad Crag before finishing with Scafell Pike itself.
This walk really needs clear weather as there are no clear paths in the area of Ill Crag and Broad Crag.
Length: 7.6 miles
Map: Lakes South West
Last Walked: Spring 2012
We start from the village green car park in Wasdale Head.
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Leave the car park along the lane in the corner furthest from the road and follow it to Burnthwaite Farm. Follow the footpath signs through the farm and into a green lane. Turn right and follow this path up the valley. Ignore a path that branches off to the left just after a large footbridge that crosses Gable Beck.
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Soon after crossing the beck the path splits in two. The left hand branch climbs steadily across the flanks of Great Gable, while the right hand branch stays in the valley bottom. Take this right-hand branch and follow it along the valley bottom. Stay on the left hand bank of the stream until you pass the junction with Piers Gill, then cross over to the right-hand side. A clear path starts from the spit of land between the two streams, and follows a good route up the valley, zigzagging up the steeper parts.
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The zigzags bring us to the top of the steeper slopes and into something of a bowl in the hills. Follow the path as it heads into this bowl, looking out for the deep gully of Skew Gill off to the right. Just after passing this, turn right and head up the grassy slopes, heading just to the right of the gill.
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This will bring us to the Corridor Route, one of the best ways up Scafell Pike. Turn right onto the Corridor Route and follow it as it climbs diagonally across the fell, gaining altitude quite quickly.
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We don't stay on the Corridor Route for long. After about a quarter of a mile it begins to level out. At this point watch out for a grassy grove that climbs up to the left, with the flank of Great End to the left and a line of rocky outcroppings to the right. Head up this grassy grove, which eventually emerges at Lambfoot Dub, a tiny but very well located tarn. From the tarn we can see an impressive amphitheatre hidden in the flanks of the Scafell range.
Most of this area is lined with crags, but there is one gap where the top end of Greta Gill climbs up towards the ridge linking Great End with the rest of the range. Head around the left-hand side of the amphitheatre, keeping level or climbing gently. For most of this section Long Pike dominates, but don't expect to see it from above - from behind it merges into the rest of Great End.
When you reach the grassy gap turn left and follow it up to the ridge - I ended up getting about half-way up close to the gill and then finishing on the slopes to its left. After one steep section the route begins to level out somewhat (and gets rather swampy underfoot), before eventually we reach the path heading up to Great End. Turn left onto this path and follow it to the summit area.
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After visiting Great End retrace your steps along the path, but then continue on to the point where it joins the path heading from Calf Cove towards Scafell Pike. This brings us onto a broad (and for this area comparatively rock-free) plateau. The path doesn't visit the summit of Ill Crag, but we are going to. Follow the path until it begins to curve around to the right. At this point Ill Crag is visible on the left, so leave the path and head towards the crag.
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Our next target is Broad Crag, the next summit in line. From Ill Crag head across the plateau, aiming for a point just to the right of Broad Crag. This brings us back onto the path. Follow it into the col between Ill Crag and Broad Crag, and then across the difficult rocky ground. The path (such as it is) heads to the left of the summit, so as you approach the summit area branch off to the right to visit the top of Broad Crag.
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The side of Broad Crag facing Scafell Pike is rather difficult, so retrace your steps back to the cairned path, turn right and follow the main route down into Broad Crag Col. The path becomes clear just as it drops down into the col, and remains so on the steep climb out of the far side. Follow this path up the north-east ridge of Scafell Pike, and on as it curves around to the right to approach the summit cairn from the south-east.
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This is rather handy, as our route onwards continues on to the north-west, so in the same direction as our approach (if you lose track stand on the main cairn, face towards the trig point, and turn slightly to the right - a cairned path heads off in the general direction of Wasdale Head and Lingmell). This path drops off a small rise surrounding the summit and heads towards a large cairn on the skyline, then heads down the north-western slope of the fell, becoming increasingly clear as it goes. Just about Lingmell Col the path curves around to the left, and heads across Hollow Stones (dominated by views of Scafell Crag to the left and the crags of Scafell Pike behind us), then down Brown Tongue. The only potentially difficult moment comes at Lingmell Gill, which can be slightly awkward to cross after wet weather.
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About a quarter of a mile after we crossed Lingmell Gill a second path branches off to the right. Take this path and follow it as it curves around the western ridge of Lingmell. This path crosses the path up Lingmell, and then heads north, running downhill towards Wasdale Head. Cross Lingmell Beck (or more often its dry bed) then head straight across the next field. This brings us to the road where we turn right to return to our starting point.