Walking Route: Scafell North Face, Lake District

For a bit of drama north faces are the way to go, argues Ronald Turnbull. Here he turns his attention to Scafell

Illustration photo of Walking Route: Scafell North Face, Lake District

Route description

  • Above Brackenclose, follow the path up Lingmell Gill to Hollow Stones. A large pathside rock (NY207070) is below the foot of the broad Shamrock Buttress. In another 100m, turn up screes into the Lords Rake Gully that slants back to the right between the Shamrock and the main Scafell Crag. At its top, the Lords Rake faultline continues past the poised boulder to emerge on Scafell’s west ridge. But immediately below the boulder, you can turn up left, onto the ledge path that contours towards the vast rock sweep of Central Buttress. At the ledge end, turn up the loose gully of Deep Ghyll, with a steep and gritty exit onto Scafell’s summit plateau.
  • See more North Face walking and scrambling routes in the Lake District here

    Slightly similar to: the Eiger 3970m

    Because: the Bernese authorities tried to ban the Eiger. The National Trust put up notices telling us to stay out of Lord’s Rake.

    Huge, unsettling empty spaces below and behind; huge, dark, rock faces above and all around. Across into the heart of the crags leads a little ledge. And people pass this way; the stones fallen from above are kicked apart to form a promising little path. I’m never going to cross the Eiger’s Traverse of the Gods but I don’t mind. Because I’ve got the West Wall Traverse on Scafell.

    The T of the G leads to the White Spider icefield and the Exit Cracks. The West Wall leads to somewhere nearly as nasty. Deep Ghyll is not just deep but loose, damp and dirty as well.

    On the Eiger, stones fall down the three great icefields like shrapnel. Stonefall has not been a serious problem on Lakeland’s older and more stable slopes. Except on Scafell... In 2002, frost prised off a 10-foot chunk of the Shamrock Buttress. This now sits poised on a pile of stones, at the top of the Lords Rake gully. One day, it’s going to come crashing down.

    So Scafell’s fabulous traverse comes between two gruesome gullies. The Eiger, too, has its unpleasant aspects.

    First published in The Great Outdoors April 2015

    Words and pictures Ronald Turnbull

    Walk details

  • Slightly similar to: the Eiger 3970m
  • Because: the Bernese authorities tried to ban the Eiger. The National Trust put up notices telling us to stay out of Lord’s Rake.
  • Walking Route: Scafell North Face, Lake District