Great End to Scafell Pike via Skew Gill

25th May 2013

What a contrast one week can make, last week I was shrouded in cloud & mist for seven hours & this week I am reaching for the after sun. I really hope this is the shape of things to come.

Todays weather could well have caught us out, we spoke the previous evening on how much hydration to take & we agreed between two/three litres, this & around half a dozen Satsuma’s would keep my body well above hydration.

Today Tim & I are embarking on a planned route, for those un-or familiar with my Blog you may or may not know that I drew up list upon list of new routes that I wanted to partake in during the coming months, Tim reckons said list is two years of walking which well maybe, but I’m going to have a bloody good crack at it during the forthcoming summer months.

Todays walk, is walk 8 from my newly compiled list.

Scafell Pike didn’t really come into this walk, it wasn’t included when I penned it it just so happened that tagging on Scafell once Great End was gained just seemed the right thing to do. We toyed with an ascent on Esk Pike but seeing as we wanted to keep to schedule we decided to leave it for another day & enjoy rather than rush our exit on the Corridor Route.

Well over a week ago I started on some serious research on an ascent via Skew Gill, yes this is a route, popular even, but there’s not much to go by on the internet other than scarcely published walk reports, that was until I came across Andy Beck’s website Teesdale Gallery who gave me one of the best & in depth reports out there on an ascent on Great End via Skew Gill.

Andy & I share a friendship via Facebook so I was able to contact Andy for an even more in depth report, if not only to settle my nerves, after all, this is a Grade One scramble. Andy contacted me back saying ‘your not out of your range Paul’ also adding Andy’s own experience ascending the gill.

Well that was my green light & I can’t thank Andy enough for his information & input, so if you do read this, thanks again Andy.

Todays trip report is a little longer than usual owing to the fact that I just wanted to get everything in there, the pictures that I could not find to help me research my route will hopefully guide others along one of thee best climbs in the whole of the Lake District.

It all started at the landing at Ashness Bridge…

Wainwright Guidebook
The Southern Fells

- Skew Gill:

Skew Gill is a tremendous gash in the Wasdale side of Great End with proportions little inferior to those of Piers Gill. The floor of the ravine is littered with stones of all shapes and sizes which can be negotiated by agile walkers, but in the upper reaches the bed of the gill is composed of naked rock at an easy angle, calling for care; the final climb out, round a corner is rather steeper. The sides of the ravine are loose; it is important to keep throughout in the company of the stream. In good conditions this may be regarded as a way for experience scramblers.

The author managed to ascend the gill (on the end of a publishers rope) so there seems to be no good reason why everybody shouldn’t put his sufferings where such that he can NOT recommend it as a route for descent walkers.


Ascent: 3,188 Feet, 972 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Great End – Scafell Pike – Seathwaite Fell
Weather: Dry Hot & Sunny, Little To No Wind, Highs Of 18°C Lows Of 5°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Seathwaite Farm (F.O.C)
Area: Southern
Miles: 10
Walking With: tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL4 & OL6
Time Taken: 6Hrs 30Mins
Route: Seathwaite – Stockley Bridge – Styhead Gill – Styhead Tarn – Sty Head -Corridor Route – Skew Gill – The Band – Great End – Broad Crag – Broad Crag Col – Scafell Pike – Lingmell Col – Corridor Route – Styhead – Sprinkling Tarn – Seathwaite Fell – Stockley Bridge – Seathwaite

Map and Photo Gallery



Ashness Bridge boat landing.

I simply could not pass up the opportunity to stop & take a few photos around Derwent Water, the water had a mirror finish & reflected in brilliant blue.

Tim however won’t thank me for stopping & adding more minutes to an already late meeting time owing to the fact that today, Tim isn’t travelling with me as he has travelled himself from Middlesbrough as he was staying over the weekend with family.

I guess a few more pictures wont hurt.


Cat Bells reflections.


Skiddaw across Derwent Water.


Seathwaite Farm, Seathwaite 07:44 5°C

I arrive knowing that Tim has already landed in Seathwaite, I look out for Tim’s car & sure enough find it quite quickly however, Tim is no where to be found, his pack sits at the back wheel so I know he wont be too far…the toilets no less.

I kit up as more cars arrive, Seathwaite is filling up very quickly so the sooner we are under way the better, I look up & spot Tim walking down from the farm, he gives me a wave & I am all but ready for todays assault.

For the first time this year I leave my jacket in the car, leaving Seathwaite with shorts & my trusted Craghoppers shirt & some very, very white legs that can only resemble frozen chunky chips.


Only Seathwaite Fell escapes the shade.

We walk under shade after leaving Seathwaite Farm, the temperature is still hovering around 5°C when in the shade it is made to feel much much cooler, Tim stretches his shirt sleeves over his hands to keep them warm however my thoughts are with that sunny bit over there, it’s on track & we soon reach it.


Seathwaite Fell with Taylorgill Force far right.


Still in the shade as we cross Grains Gill over the iconic Stockley Bridge.


Looking back on Seathwaite & Seatoller Fell together with the early stages of the River Derwent meandering through the valley.


A chance meeting with a Facebook friend, Chris & Fudge.

It was great to bump into Chris & Fudge, again. Chris had been up on the fells since 04:30 that morning explaining to Tim & I that he just couldn’t sleep so why not get up onto the fells which kinda wowed & amazed us, I couldn’t but envy Chris knowing that he is only a forty minute drive from all of this.

We chatted for quite some time which could have gone on for much longer, Fudge seemed to be enjoying himself too as he picked rocks up for Chris to throw back in the river.


The Band, Great End & Broad Crag from Styhead Tarn.

Without notice Styhead & Styhead Tarn was soon reached, our route via Skew Gill is still not visible from here so we take a walk over to the Stretcher Box situated at Styhead.


The Stretcher Box, Styhead.

Here we both down packs & have a wander over Styhead to have look at what’s in store.


Skew Gill seen between The Band (L) & Great End (R)

With my adrenalin building the only thought going through my mind at this stage was just how cold it looked within the chasm.

That & I just want to get in there. To reach the base of Skew Gill a short trek along the Corridor Route is required so we return to our packs & take on a little descent.


The Corridor Route seen from Styhead.


Tim leading the way as I…


Contemplate the Gill.


Lingmell & Piers Gill seen from the start of the Corridor Route.


Brilliant morning sun capturing The Band, its the last we’ll see of the sun for just under the next hour.

Here Tim changes from his trail shoes to his newly acquired walking boots, worn in yes, but not properly but they are about to get a good taste.


A close up of The Napes & the top of The Napes Needle as we start our ascent.

More grand views of Great Gable to come.


Skew Gill from the Corridor Route.

As Tim ties up a little below I head into Skew Gill, at this stage I am dipping my clutch & raring to go, the ascent is steep but you can follow a faint path that will negotiate the boulders until you reach the bottom of the main boulder field seen further ahead.


Well within the ascent.

Parts of the ascent are stable & some not so, there is a path that follows some parts of the climb, less obvious is which way to take on the boulders & loose scree. I found it easier to follow the faint path when possible then make your own decisions over the boulders, sticking centre & following the path worked well at the lower stages of the climb.


Every now & again we got a glimpse of the bright  sun over our heads which lit the steep walls of the gill, only adding to the enjoyment of the climb.


At other times it was as if someone had turned the lights off.

At what felt like half way within the Gill I couldn’t help but wonder where the stream bed was – as up to now all the ascent was done over dry/damp rock, we could hear water flowing but we just couldn’t see it.


Numerous rock steps line the ascent, this really isn’t anything to speak off, a little care was all that was needed.


Great Gable from Skew Gill, a classic view that Andy spoke of fondly, I have to agree its pretty amazing.


1/3 of the tricky awkward scrambles.

Tim leads the way here as we took it in turns to take on the tricky bits, here Tim demonstrates his technique as he scrambles past a waterfall, don’t be ashamed to use your knees & bum along sections like this.

A section of the ascent that YOU WILL GET WET IN, all the while thoroughly enjoyable!


Taking it all in.


Great Gable taking a keen eye on our ascent.


Around three quarters of the way up you sight the left bend nearing the top of Skew Gill, this section – upto what looks like a patch of snow is taken on using the grass seen left.


What we thought was a patch of snow turned out to be a bridge like tunnel formed from left over snow, Tim scrambles ahead & checks out the situation.

I arrive moments later, we both agree that there is no other way around than to go under the snow, I don’t like the idea of this but we are left with no other option as the walls are slime filled & possibly more dangerous to climb than go under what looks to be a ton of loose snow.


While Tim takes on the snow tunnel I spot possible exit routes for the future, there are many, one being along the side of these impressive crags found to the right of my position.


Taking on the tunnel.

Tim went first as I cautiously followed, the snow was loose so precaution was the key, here trying not to let our walking poles snag along the roof.


Looking back on the snow tunnel.


The gill narrows considerably just before reaching the top, there’s still a little scrambling to be done the next one being…


2/3 of the tricky sections.

The scramble here looks alot more daunting than it actually is, here, despite the cascading waterfall the rock is porous offering great grip together with good hand holds, I go first.


After 2/3 the gills exit is upon you, note the light coming in from the left in the photo, this is the exit point.


3/3 of the tricky scrambles & the exit out of Skew Gill.

This is by far the trickiest of all the scrambles & one where care & thought must be taken, here I put my weakest leg forward first (left) ready for my strongest leg to take on the next hold which executes well, now I am in good stead with best foot forward for the rest of the scramble.


Taking on more tricky ascents 3/3


Delightful man shows shadow at the top of Skew Gill.


This last exit was the section that I had been worried about the most, it is not beyond the average walkers capabilities with all the necessary equipment plus a keen head for a little exposure & maybe experience of Gill scrambling before hand.

I am no climber by no means & draw the line at the likes of other Grade 1 scrambles like Jack’s Rake & so on, I’ve done many many Rake’s & Edges in the district & they all have their fine points, but Skew Gill is going to take some beating.


Back in the suntrap.

The scramble is not yet over as we now have to negotiate this next section that will lead us to the top of The Band, here we can take on Great End’s Pedestrian Route, but for now its time to get sweaty again.


The Pedestrian Route up towards the summit is not without its steepness – but there is a good path to follow, here the walker can take in a small de-tour to take in Cust’s Gully, headlong we head for the summit instead.


The Pedestrian Route offering fantastic views over Sprinkling Tarn, Seathwaite Fell & Styhead Tarn over on the left.


Here looking across to Kirk Fell, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple, Red Pike (Wasdale) Haycock & finally Caw Fell on the far left.


Borrowdale & the Derwent fells from Great End summit cairn.

We decide on having a wander across the summit top to the top of Central Gully.


The top of Central Gully, Great End.


Where we both pose for photos.

The top section of Central Gully still has a considerable amount of snow in it although I suspect not for long.

It was time for another Satsuma as we lose a little descent as we cross the top of Calf Cove.


Esk Pike & Bow Fell dominate views south.


Scafell Pike & Broad Crag from the ‘motorway’

It was now approaching mid morning & I’ll have to admit I expected a lot more walkers along this section, maybe there all climbing from Wasdale?


Broad Crag summit cairn.

We took on the boulder-some ascent on Broad Crag a first for Tim where once at the summit sat facing his beloved western fells as he peeled open a boiled egg.

Me, I went for a little wander across the summit top.


As I look over at our efforts, including one I have yet to conquer, the ever elusive Lambfoot Dub, an secluded tarn perched upon Great End east crags.

Hands on hips I mentally scratch it in my notepad back at home.


Scafell Pike over Broad Crag Col.

Scafell Pike summit is our next target with the midday sun bearing down on us its going to be a bit of tough one.


Little Narrow Cove from Broad Crag Col.


Lingmell, Great Gable & Kirk Fell found on the opposite side of Broad Crag Col, Pillar can be seen under dark cloud along with a section of the Mosedale fells, the little tarn you see lower right is that of Lambfoot Dub.


Scafell Pike masses.


Scafell, Mickledore & Lord’s Rake seen with still an amount of snow over to the right of the photo.


Tim & I make a point of touching both Trig Point & summit shelter before having a wee rest on some nicely placed boulders, this certainly isn’t my cup of tea & I know Tim isn’t far behind me on the subject but in saying this, if you are going to climb to the summit of England on a bank holiday weekend you have no one else to blame but yourself.

Only a small percentage of people here today are genuine walkers, the rest are day trippers poorly prepared & that is the last I will say on the subject.


They come in their hundreds.

The girl you see with her backed turned to the camera is wearing trainers, jeans, no pack no water just her mobile phone & looks exhausted.

I know I said that’s the last I would say on the matter but this just beggars believe, she wasn’t the first & wasn’t the last we’d see, I could only think of MRT & how annoying it must be when the bank holidays get so busy.

Ok I’ll leave the subject for good.


Lingmell, Great Gable & Lingmell Col.

Between the masses I managed to take this photo, here we head for the Corridor Route marked by a succession of small cairns.


Passing the head of Piers Gill along the Corridor Route.

Here we sit & finish off the remainders of our lunches, watching as walkers walk by without giving Lakelands finest ravine a second glance.


The Corridor Route.

I seemed to have picked up a niggling injury on my right knee, during my descent on Scafell Pike I jarred my knee which is leaving it in some pain, here I opt for pain killers & my knee strap which I always carry from my footballing days.

We press on.


Lingmell & Piers Gill from the Corridor Route.

More mental notes are taken!


We take in the delights of Skew Gill for the second time today.


Green & Great Gable together with Styhead Tarn as we round Spout Head.

Here we pick up the path towards Esk Hause, this means a little more ascent is needed under scorching afternoon heat.

Skinny dip anyone!


Sprinkling Tarn.

After the little climb we doused our heads in the tarn, we had taken the opportunity earlier that if we weren’t to climb Esk Pike we would end on Seathwaite Fell.


Great End from Sprinkling Tarn.

Although we had gained Scafell Pike in todays walk, there was no elusion that Great End & Skew Gill certainly stole the show today.


Beyond Keswick from the summit of Seathwaite Fell.

It was time to head down back to Seathwaite & doing this can be easier said than done as there are no paths across or offering a decent descent route, so earlier on this morning we had picked a route from the path below – all we had to do was find it, it wasn’t long before we thought we had found the path which had remnants of a gully, non the less it had been trodden before so this was used as our line of descent, it can be seen as ‘Route A’ In Wainwrights pictorial guide ‘The Southern Fells’


Also offering grand views over the Seathwaite Valley.

We had a slight trek back into Seathwaite after our descent where we met up with the masses who were also heading back into what can only be described as organised chaos in rural Seathwaite.

I finish of the remainder of my hydration pack as the sun leaves my skin feeling raw & scorched, I am a man thus ignorant to sun cream this now being the reason why I have used nearly all the kids after sun on my red raw arms, neck & calves.

Great End via Skew Gill or Great End to Scafell Pike via Skew Gill will not be forgotten in any kind of hurry, today I felt kid like in that chasm cut into the mountain side, its not very often I would scream; again, again! But this is the effect Skew Gill has on you.



1960 – 2013


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