Scafell Pike Walk

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Scafell Pike Walk
England, UK

Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England, with its summit towering above the local area at 978 metres high.

On a very clear day, visitors can look out to summits in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, as well as various nearby peaks.

Not only is it the country’s highest mountain but also the highest war memorial. Scafell Pike’s summit was given to the National Trust in memory of those who died in WWI so that people would have the freedom to enjoy the mountains forever.

Located in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, the peak is part of the Southern Fells and shouldn’t be confused with nearby peak, Scafell, which is almost as tall but far less accessible.

The National Park is renowned for hiking and climbing opportunities as well as its stunning scenery, but summiting Scafell Pike is a challenge that draws in visitors from around the world.

Thousands of people make their way up the steep paths of Scafell Pike each year – following in the footsteps of some of the country’s most celebrated climbers, writers and artists.

It is a formidable mountain and requires planning, preparation and respect. Despite the fact there are multiple tracks to the summit, there is no such thing as an easy route up.

It is also one of the mountains climbed on the Three Peaks Challenge walk, which takes on the highest peak in each of England (Scafell Pike), Scotland (Ben Nevis) and Wales (Mount Snowdon) in 24 hours.

The easiest walking route up Scafell Pike is The Wasdale Path, which can be undertaken by families with children and those with dogs.

However, our favourite option is the Corridor Route. This combines varied walking with impressive scenery and will give you a workout whilst still being manageable. Take a look at our itinerary for the route below.

The title of the highest mountain in the country implies an intimidating hike to the top, and we can confirm that it will certainly get your heart and lungs fired up.

That said, it’s achievable by anyone of decent fitness who is up for a challenge.

Highlights
  • Take on the challenge of England’s highest peak.
  • Various routes up and down to suit different abilities – children and dogs can be taken on Wasdale route.
  • Breathtaking views from the summit.
Walk Map
About the route
  • Travel

There are a lots of ways of getting to Scafell Pike from all over the country and further afield.

Visitors can fly in to Newcastle or Manchester, both around 200 kilometres away, or for those travelling from London, it’s easy to reach a connection by train.

From London Euston to Penrith the journey time is approximately three hours.

From nearby train stations, you can then use local public transport or hire a car to get across to your accommodation or start point. For example, from Penrith to Keswick or Kendal is a short bus ride.

It is possible to climb Scafell Pike from four different locations: Wasdale Head (the most popular and shortest), Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale, Boot in Eskdale or Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

At Wasdale Head there is a National Trust Car Park that is free for members or £6.50 for non-members. During peak season and weekends it can be busy enough that spaces run out, so be sure to arrive early.

  • Length

From Wasdale Head the round trip is just under 13 kilometres and you’ll need to allow at least 5 to 6 hours, even in good weather. Experienced walkers will likely take around two hours to climb to the summit from the car park.

When the forecast is for low clouds, fog or rain allow extra time as you will need to walk more slowly and the route will be harder to find.

If you opt for one of the other routes from Borrowdale, Langdale or Eskdale, these are much longer and you should allow most of the day.

Not only are they of an increased length but they involve difficult ground and require the ability to navigate over rough mountain terrain in any weather.

Remember that if you’re doing this as part of the Three Peaks then climbing will take you even longer than if you were fresh.

  • Grade and difficulty of the walk

Summiting Scafell Pike should not be underestimated.

All routes will involve some elements of tough, steep hiking and scrambling over hard terrain.

The Corridor Route up Scafell Pike is not as steep as the Wasdale Route but it is longer and definitely more technical as it involves a couple of sections of easy grade-one scrambling and a few narrow and exposed paths.

The Lake District National Park rates the walk’s strenuousness as 3/5, navigation as a 4/5 and technicality also a 4/5. Planning is key and you should be prepared for high winds, rain, poor visibility and snow or extreme cold in winter months.

Be sure to check the mountain forecast, have the right clothing and equipment and know how to use it.

  • Experience

Scafell Pike may not be Everest but it does have 1,070 metres of ascent.

Anyone wanting to successfully reach the summit should make sure they are physically fit and have done a few long hikes on varying inclines and terrains.

There are plenty of other Lakeland hikes and climbs that could be attempted in the preceding weeks for practice.

Whilst the path is in good condition for the Lake District, it is still uneven and rubbly.

You could get away with trainers as most of the way is path but the last part to the summit is all loose rocks, making it particularly slippery on the way down. If possible, play it safe and wear something with ankle support and decent tread.

  • Permits

No permits are needed to climb Scafell Pike.

  • Guided or Self-Guided

Most people choose to hike self-guided and there are plenty of online resources to help you do so.

Visitors can download route cards that contain useful information to help you navigate safely on the mountain along with top tips to avoid going wrong.

It should be noted that paths in the Lake District are not way-marked or signposted, so the only aids to route-finding are those you take with you.

A detailed map is essential for navigation up and down the Pike and this will need to be combined with a compass if the weather closes in.

There are three routes off the summit of Scafell Pike, each of which reaches a path junction were the route splits.

In bad weather you will need a map and compass and the ability to use them in order to find your way back down the mountain.

best time to walk

As with any walk in Britain, the best conditions will be between May and October. The summer period offers the warmest temperatures and potential for low cloud and rain, but is also the most popular.

Nailing your timing will make this climb more enjoyable. July through August is best avoided as the school holidays will guarantee you crowds and a less authentic experience.

A weekday during late-May/early-June or middle of September will give you plenty of parking options and space on the mountain. Ascending with no one in front of you will be much more scenic than trudging in someone else’s wake.

It is not unusual to find snow high up on the mountain any time from October through to May. Whenever temperatures are sub zero, water ice can form and winter equipment should be carried.

Whenever you climb, remember that the summit temperature is likely to be between five and 10 degrees lower than the valley temperature and the summit plateau can experience severe windchill at any time of year.

Sample Itinerary

  • Aim to reach the Wasdale Head Green car park by 9am to secure a parking spot and beat the rush.
  • From here take the track heading northeast to the farm at Burnthwaite then right onto the Sty Head bridleway. The bridleway climbs in a long steep traverse to gain Sty Head.
  • The start of the Corridor Route lays 300 metres to the east from the stretcher box along the Esk Hause bridleway. This narrow path descends off to the right and is easily missed.
  • Cross Spout Head, Skew Gill and then make the easy scramble up the short sidewall opposite. Traverse across the northwestern flanks of Great End and Broad Crag to reach the high point of Lingmell Col.
  • From here turn left and head south then southeast towards Scafell Pike’s summit. From the summit, take some time to refuel and enjoy the extensive views, ranging from the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland to Snowdonia in Wales.
  • Due to its rocky nature, paths back down are not that obvious so it is worth taking a bearing to make sure you pick up the right route from the top to re-trace your steps back down to Lingmell Col.
  • On returning to Lingmell Col, ignore the Corridor Route and take the path that forks left and descends southwest to Hollow Stones instead. Continue along the path as it swings west and descends down the moraine of Brown Tongue.
  • At the bottom of Brown Tongue cross Lingmell Gill for just over 250 metres until a path breaks off left. Follow this steep descent as it traverses the fellside to eventually arrive at a footbridge over Lingmell Beck.
  • Head over the small bridge and follow the path across the valley bottom to join the road. Turn right and you’ll find yourself back at the car park at Wasdale Head Green.
Accommodation

The Lake District is a thriving tourist destination and the towns in close proximity to Scafell Pike have plenty of hotels, inns, B&Bs, farms, campsites and even yurts.

Hotels are a great option for groups as they offer plenty of room, amenities and onsite restaurants if you’re too tired to dine elsewhere after your hike. At most hotels it is often possible to negotiate a discounted group rate.

For individuals, couples or families a bed and breakfast is the perfect solution and offers more of a personal touch. If you just want a comfortable warm bedroom, a hearty breakfast and a cheery welcome, prices can be affordable.

Most of the bed and breakfasts are run by their owners and have staggering views of nearby fells and lakes.

For those on a strict budget there are a number of excellent campsites nearby too, including Wasdale Head Campsite (run by the Wadale Head Inn) and the Wasdale National Trust Campsite, which has great facilities for the price.

For those hiking via one of the alternative routes, consider Great Langdale Campsite, Eskdale Campsite or Seathwaite Farm.

What to do

The Lake District in Cumbria boasts some of the UK’s best and most dramatic scenery and is widely regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful destinations.

Because the National Park is so popular with walkers and climbers, the region is well equipped with everything you could want and need.

From hiking to fishing, or just chilling out and meeting fellow ramblers whilst trading stories in a local country pub, you’ll always be made to feel welcome wherever you go. And there’s certainly no shortage of watering holes, with traditional pubs and inns scattered throughout the area.

The Wasdale Head Inn is a highly regarded walker’s pub for those setting off from Wasdale, offering a crackling fire and a variety of beers and ales.

It is definitely worth tagging on a few days to the start or end of your trip to explore other areas of the park. In the north, the rolling landscape and designated trails offer opportunities for walking and climbing, whereas the area’s bustling south is where you can find various historic and literary attractions.

The Lakes were the inspiration for writers such as William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, and Beatrix Potter, whose homes you can visit to get a glimpse into their lives and work.

Once you’ve climbed Scafell Pike, head to one of the main bases such as Keswick in the north, Windermere and Bowness in the south or one of retreats nestled amongst the countryside. You’d be surprised at how many spas and hotels there are in the Lake District.

Visit the house of Beatrix Potter, indulge in a cream tea or ride an old steamboat on the lakes at Windermere or Coniston.  If being out on the water is your thing then get stuck in to the watersports.

These range from the laidback options of canoeing, kayaking and sailing to the speedier windsurfing or jet-skiing. Regardless of your budget and skillset you’ll find something to suit.

For something a bit more lowkey, visit Low Gillerthwaite in the west of the park. Thanks to its isolated location free of light pollution it was recently named as an official Dark Sky Discovery Site.

During winter when days are shorter the centre leads stargazing events with talks and access to telescopes and on clear evenings you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

Published: August 19, 2020 Modified: August 27, 2020

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At a glance
Difficulty 3/5
Starts at Greendale Holiday Apartments, Wasdale Head, Seascale, UK
Finishes at Greendale Holiday Apartments, Wasdale Head, Seascale, UK
Length of route 12.8 Km
Average time to complete 4 - 6 Hours
Possible to complete sub-sectionsNo
Highest point 978 metres
Permit requiredNo
Countries visited England, UK

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