Climbing England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike
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Climbing Scafell Pike, England’s Highest Mountain!

Standing at 978 metres tall, Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain and war memorial. Thousands of people enjoy climbing Scafell Pike each year, however, the climb to the top should not be underestimated!

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Where Is Scafell Pike?

Scafell Pike is located on the western side of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, UK. Unfortunately, the area isn’t the easiest to get to without a car with the nearest train station being Ravenglass, 15 miles away. The best option would be to arrive at one of the main-line train stations, Penrith or Kendal, and hire a car for the duration of your trip.

In the summer months, you do have the option of taking the bus from Keswick to Seatoller and then walking the 1.5 miles to Seathwaite where there is also a lovely campsite to spend the night.

Interesting Facts about Scafell Pike:

  • Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain in England measuring 978 m (3,209 ft) high.
  • Scafell Pike is home to the highest standing water in England, known as Broad Crag Tarn. It lies at about 820 m (2,700 ft), a quarter of a mile south of the summit.
  • Scafell Pike’s original name was ‘The Pikes of Sca Fell’, and this term was used to describe Broad Crag and Ill Crag, as well as Scafell Pike itself. The change was caused by an error on an Ordnance Survey map and stuck. The Scafell Pike OS Map sold today is, however, completely accurate.
  • Scafell Pike was donated to the National Trust in 1919 by Lord Leconfield. This gesture was made to honour the men of the Lake District who lost their lives fighting for their country in the First World War.
  • The deepest lake in England lies at the foot of Scafell Pike and is called Wastwater. It measures three miles long, just over half a mile wide, and a staggering 258 feet deep.

The Best Time Of Year To Climb Scafell Pike?

If you have spent any time in England, especially the Lake District you will know that whatever the season the weather can be very unpredictable! That being said the best time to climb Scafell would be between April & October with the summer months of July & August offering the best chance of dry weather.

However, this isn’t a guarantee as even the most sunny mornings can turn into very wet afternoons, especially on the mountain! In the winter months of December to February, you can expect very cold windy conditions and even some heavy snow.

Your best bet for climbing Scafell Pike is to check the weather reports in the weeks before you go, this will tell you what you are likely to expect and if there has been any significant weather that may cause problems such as flooding or heavy snow.

You should always check the weather forecast again on the morning of the climb as things can change quickly. It is not worth making the effort to climb Scafell if the weather is going to be miserable. Not only will you be uncomfortable but it could also lead to hazardous conditions and a risk to your safety. If you are unsure about the weather conditions, don’t climb, the mountain will always be there for another day!

Another point to keep in mind is the change in temperature, the summit is considerably colder than at the bottom. For example, I climbed Scafell on a bright sunny and warm April morning, yet at the top, it was freezing temperatures with a good sprinkling of fresh snow.

For the most accurate weather reports, I recommend the following:

The Mountain Weather Information Service

Met Office Mountain Forecast

The Lake District Weather Line

Must-Have Weather Dependant Equipment:

  • If it’s sunny: suncream, peaked cap, extra water
  • If it’s raining: waterproof jacket and trousers
  • If it’s low cloud or fog: make sure you have a map and compass and know how to use it, and the phone battery is fully charged (we recommend having a spare old-school phone for emergencies, especially if you’ll be using your smartphone for photos), waterproofs – it’s still pretty damp inside a cloud.
  • If there is snow and ice: ice axe, crampons
  • If it’s cold or windy: hats and gloves and warm layers

Whatever the weather though make sure you have extra layers of clothing, plenty of snacks and water as conditions can change quickly. Plus, if on the off chance, you do get a slight injury or find yourself in an emergency situation you will be grateful for the extra layers whilst waiting for help even in the summer months! For more advice on staying safe in the mountains visit England & Wales Mountain Rescue.

Can A Beginner Climb Scafell Pike?

I wouldn’t recommend climbing Scafell Pike to complete beginners, however, those with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to reach the summit. Just bear in mind that the easiest route can still take 3-4 hours of steep uphill walking just to reach the summit! For those who are not used to hill walking this can be a very difficult challenge!

Older children with walking experience should have no issues climbing Scafell, however, smaller children may find it a task too far!

Which Route To Take Up Scafell Pike?

Scafell Pike Via Wasdale Head (The Tourist Route)

This is the most popular route up Scafell Pike and is the main route for those doing the National 3 Peaks Challenge. This route is relatively easy to navigate and almost impossible to get lost unless you encounter some bad visibility near the summit.

As it’s the most popular route you will also encounter lots of other people, in fact, hundreds during the warmer summer months! Although you are likely to be sharing the mountain with lots of other like-minded souls, don’t be put off, as the views will certainly make up for it at the top!

Climbing Scafell Pike via Wasdale Head is often referred to as the easiest but this doesn’t mean it is easy, It’s far from it! This was the route I took in April this year and even as a seasoned hillwalker, it was probably the most difficult walk I had ever done! Halfway up I really did question why I was doing it, but I persevered and eventually got to the top! You can see how red-faced I am in the picture below!

I remember walking back down saying that I’ll never have to climb it again, however, that didn’t last long as it’s only been a few weeks since I conquered Scafell and I’m planning on doing it again via a different route!

The route starts from the National Trust car park at Wasdale Head next to the campsite. The route is pretty straightforward with signs leading the way. The first part takes you along Lingmell Beck up the mountain. After about 1.5 Km the path crosses over Lingmell Beck, this crossing can be tricky after lots of rainfall or during the winter but during the summer months, it should be fairly straightforward.

After you have crossed Lingmell Beck you start the steepest part of the climb up what I have nicknamed the stair master! This is probably the worst and most exhausting part as these uneven steps seem to go on forever with literally no end in sight!

Eventually, the steps disappear and you have an easier terrain to walk along. This pathway is still quite uneven and leads to some light scrambling and loose rocks in places. The path then veers left of a large cairn at the top of Brown Tongue. Please note, this part of the route may become difficult to navigate during low clouds or mist.

Eventually, the path turns towards the right and up towards the summit. Again this part can be tricky, especially with snow on the ground or in bad conditions. The route is very uneven with lots of loose stones and sort of zigzags up towards the summit plateau. Once at the top, you will see the usual trig point and then a second higher summit cairn.

Once at the summit take a much-needed rest, take in the amazing views and enjoy some snacks before taking the same route back down to Wasdale Head.

Parking at Wasdale Head:

  • National Trust car park postcode: CA20 1EX
  • Grid Ref: NY182075
  • What 3 Words: spelling, cold, alongside

Parking costs:

  • £5 up to 2 hours
  • £7 up to 4 hours
  • £9 all day

Please bring cash as there is very little mobile signal in the area which means you cannot pay by card or phone.

National Trust members can get free parking, just remember to bring your membership card with you as you will need to scan it to get the free parking ticket.

Other Routes Up Scafell Pike:

Scafell Pike From Seathwaite – Along with the Hollow Stone’s path from Wasdale, this route up Scafell Pike from Seathwaite is arguably one of the most popular. However, unlike Wasdale Seathwaite is a much easier location to get to and has proximity to Keswick. Combine this with ample free parking and fell walkers flock to the area in their droves.

Scafell Pike From Great Langdale – The walk up Scafell Pike from Langdale is a fell walk for those who like the long walk in, and out again. It’s just shy of 20km, or just over if you also pack Great End into your itinerary for the day. It may present one of the longest routes to England’s highest peak but, in return, you get a proper day out among some of the very best of the Lake District.

Scafell Pike From Hardknott Eskdale – The route up Scafell Pike via Cam Spout is a quiet, lesser-known walk that sets off from near Boot in Eskdale to the south. This is a full outing that returns down the Little Narrowcove route up Scafell Pike. You’ll avoid the hordes of people from the Wasdale side, as well as the starting point is a bit nearer to the M6 than Wasdale Head

Scafell Pike Via The Corridor Route From Wasdale Head – The Corridor Route up Scafell Pike is normally done from Seathwaite, but can also be joined quite easily from Wasdale Head. It’s not as steep as the Wasdale Route, but it’s longer and more technical as it involves a couple of sections of easy grade-1 scrambling and a few narrow and exposed paths. Heavy rain would also make all the streams forded on the route a bit more of an undertaking!

Final Thoughts

Although climbing Scafell Pike was one of the hardest climbs I had ever done, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, even the exhausting parts where I questioned myself on WHY! Just taking a minute to take it all in and capture the views made it all worthwhile! Climbing Scafell Pike is a pretty big achievement and the satisfaction of completing such a climb alongside the magnificent views made it one of the best experiences I’ve had in a very long while!

I was pretty lucky the day I climbed Scafell Pike, it was a lovely sunny morning with clear skies and hardly a hint of wind making it the perfect weather condition for the climb. However once at the top I was pleasantly surprised to find a good sprinkling of snow, yes the temperature was colder but with a few extra layers, it just added to the perfect scenery.

If you’re thinking of climbing Scafell Pike and you have the stamina and fitness to do it, then go for it, it’s an experience that will stay with you forever. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced hiker then Scafell Pike should already be at the top of your list!

Please note ‘Easy Life Traveller’ accepts no responsibility for any injuries or accidents that may result from walking any of these published routes. We always recommend wearing appropriate footwear and proper equipment such as a map and compass. For more details on walking safely in the countryside and mountains check out The Ramblers and Mountain Rescue England & Wales safety advice.

Thanks so much for stopping by, I appreciate every one of you who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content coming in the next few weeks so make sure you pop back to catch up!

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