Great End
Despite being England’s 5th highest mountain Great End is much less visited than its near neighbour Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak. Walkers coming up from Seathwaite or Langdale on a mission to reach the top of England generally pass it by even though from the top of Calf Cove it would take them barely a quarter of a mile out of their way. This is a shame as Great End is a magnificent viewpoint especially as its summit is on top an 800ft high rock face adding a touch of drama to the scene. There are direct routes up the face but they all involve a rope. The way described is most definitely a fellwalker’s route made easier for following the footsteps of the thousands who pass this way to Scafell Pike.

Fact file

Start/finish: Seathwaite Farm and Campsite. CA12 5XJ. Some roadside parking on the approach to the farm but for £3.00 a car (£5.00 minibus) you can park at the farm which is good value.

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 6 - 8 hours

Grade: Strenuous

Maps: OS OL6 The English Lakes North western area (at the start and end) OS OL4 The English Lakes South western area (for the middle bit).


Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

1. From the car park turn right through the farm to join a track leading southwards.


A direction sign post informs you that you are 2 ½ miles from Styhead - something to note for later in the walk. On a broad well-made track In 3/4 mile arrive at Stockley Bridge an attractive stone built pack-horse variety.


The return route will bring you back to this point. Cross it and turn left on a clear path that follows Grains Gill up a steep sided valley


with the flanks of Glaramara on your left and the flanks of Seathwaite Fell on your right. From this point on you will not stop climbing until you have attained your goal - the summit of Great End - about 2,200 feet of ascent. Part way along you may have some consolation in being able to see your objective


while the view behind you are such that they may lift your spirits. At length you will reach the bridleway that crosses Sty Head to Rossett Gill. Again mentally note the spot as you will return here after the summit which at this point is towering above you.


Turn left and after 250yds bear right


onto a well-made path leading up to Esk Hause. As you reach a marker cairn at the top of the ridge a different scene will confront you - looking down towards Morecambe Bay. At the cairn turn right and probably in procession with others follow a very broad track up Calf Cove.


In half a mile this reaches the col between Great End and the rest of the Scafell Group. Turn right for the summit of Great End. As you reach it you can congratulate yourself on being "Far From the Madding Crowd" and the most discerning fellwalker in history as well as being on England's 5th highest mountain.


2. There are three main options for returning to Seathwaite. 1. Go back the way you came - which is a bit mundane. More interesting is to go over Allen Crags and Glaramara. The third option is described here by virtue of the fact it was the one we did when checking the route in April. Retrace your steps to the top of Calf Cove, Esk Hause


and back to the junction of paths above Grains Gill. Here keep ahead on a path leading towards another giant of the Lakes - Great Gable (7th Highest).


A good path will take you first to Sprinkling Tarn and then down to Sty Head a broad col between Borrowdale and Wasdale. A mountain rescue stretcher box marks the meeting of ways.


3. Turn right for Seathwaite (unless you have enough energy to bag Great Gable!) Passing Styhead Tarn on your right


keep ahead on an obvious path crossing Styhead Gill over a wooden bridge.


Half a mile further on the path begins its descent below Greenhow Knott


and after passing alongside a wood drops down to Stockley Bridge. If you have made it this far you can work out the rest.


A note on lists: My assertion that Great End is the 5th Highest mountain in England is based on Wainwright's Guide to the Lakeland Fells. On some other lists Ill Crag and Broad Crag (between Great End and Scafell Pike) and Lower Man part of the Helvellyn Group are included and are all higher than Great End. So for the pedantic substitute "8th" for "5th" but still climb Great End and have a great day out as we did in April.