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A Guide To Climbing Scafell Pike

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Scafell Pike is the smallest of the National Three Peaks, but this doesn’t make it an easy climb.

Scafell Pike, standing at 978 metres, is the highest mountain in England. It is also a war memorial cared for by the National Trust, which makes it an irresistible climb, attracting climbers and sightseers from all over the country.

Scafell Pike is set in beautiful scenery with access to the incredible Lake District, and this provides a fantastic mid-mountain trek for the three peaks challenge.

Located in Lake District National Park, Scafell Pike is the smallest of the National Three Peaks, but this shouldn’t make you underestimate the climb. Instead, you should plan and gather as much information as possible if you want to enjoy the experience.

7 Interesting Facts about Scafell Pike

Apart from Scafell Pike being the tallest mountain in England, there are other interesting facts about the mountain that every climber should know. Here are 7 interesting facts about Scafell Pike:

  • Scafell Pike is part of the National Three Peaks Challenge, along with Ben Nevis and Snowdon.
  • Scafell Pike is home to Broad Crag Tarn, the highest standing water in England (820 m/2,690 ft).
  • Scafell Pike was donated to the National Trust in 1919 by Lord Leconfield. It was done to honour the men of the Lake District who lost their lives fighting for their country in the First World War.
  • Originally, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag and Ill Crag were all called The Pikes of Sca Fell.
  • Scafell Pike Mountain is also home to Wastwater Lake, the deepest lake in England. It is three miles long, over half a mile wide, and 258 feet deep.
  • On a clear day, you can view mountain peaks as far away as Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
  • There are about five routes to Scafell Pike, although the Wasdale Route is the fastest.

Key Facts about Scafell Pike

  • Height: 978 m or 3,209 ft
  • Routes: There are five routes to choose from; Wasdale Head (the most popular and shortest), Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale, Corridor route via Wasdale, Boot in Eskdale or Seathwaite in Borrowdale.
  • Difficulty: Smallest of the National 3 Peaks.
Views of Scafell Pike across the lake in the distance

Scafell Pike Walking Routes

Like we said earlier, there are five routes to Scafell Pike. Each of the routes starts from different sides of the mountain, and you should know all your options before climbing. The routes are:

  • Wasdale Head
  • Seathwaite, Borrowdale (Corridor Route)
  • Great Langdale
  • Hardknott Eskdale
  • Corridor Route via Wasdale

There are so many things to consider when choosing a route to follow. Do you want the fastest route to the peak? Or are you more of an adventurer who is more interested in details? Ask these questions and many more before making your decision.

Here’s an idea of each of the routes, so you have a clue what you’re signing up for.

Scafell Pike via the Wasdale Route

Distance: 4.2km Ascent: 910 km. Time: Approx. 3 hours

The Wasdale route is the most popular route and is the usual three peaks route to the peak.

The starting point for Scafell Pike when taking the Wasdale route is the Wasdale National Trust Car Park. This is the ideal location to start climbing Scafell Pike. The car park is next to a campsite with a hot food/drinks trailer, information booth and toilets.

The Wasdale route has a very steep start, and a few rest stops might be needed when climbing Scafell Pike. Even though it’s a tourist option, this route is pretty rough and becomes indistinct halfway up. The final ascent could also be tricky in most. Rocky and stony, the terrain up Scafell is challenging, and in particular, the Wasdale route is a steep one

This may be a small peak with many narrow and steep paths, but it is indeed mighty, making it the tourists’ choice.

Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

Distance: 7.27km Ascent: 876m. Time: Approx. 3 – 3.5 hours

The Seathwaite is also known as the corridor route. It is one of the most impressive routes in Lake Districts and is usually on the top of every climber’s bucket list. This is an alternative route to the usual Wasdale route. ,

Unlike the Wasdale route, Seathwaite is a more accessible location to get to and is close to the beautiful town of Keswick. It also comes with some perks, such as free parking and higher quality paths to follow. Its gradients are relatively easy, and it claims to have one of the best sceneries in the Lake District.

Scafell Pike from Great Langdale

Distance: 9.3km Ascent: 1026m. Time: Approx. 4 hours

This is a longer route to take to Scafell Pike. If you’re an adventurer and you’d love to experience more out of the climb, then this route might be for you. You have the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel at route start. Through this route, you’d experience lofty views into several of Lake District’s most famous valleys and impressive rock scenery.

There should be sufficient parking space in Great Langdale using the National Trust car part at Stickle Ghyll or the National Park’s Langdale car park.

Scafell Pike from Hardknott Eskdale

Distance: 17.3km Ascent: 966m. Time: Approx. 6 hours

This is the wilder and quieter option among all routes. You will find The Woolpack Inn if you choose to climb using this route. It is a lesser-known route compared to Wasdale and the others. If you want to avoid the crowds you’d find in the Wasdale Head route during the summer times, then this route might be for you.

Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route from Wasdale Head

Distance: 7.7km Ascent: 967m. Time: Approx. 3 – 4 hours

If you decide to climb through this route, some facilities you’d find are; the Pub in Wasdale Head and the campsite at Wastwater.

Although climbers would usually start the corridor walk from Seathwaite, it can also be done from Wasdale Head. It’s not as steep as the Wasdale route, but it’s the longer and more technical option. The walk starts from Wasdale Head at the National Trust Car park, so there’s ample space to park your car.

Scafell Pike Route Map – Wasdale Route

The Wasdale route is the most popular route and is the usual three peaks route to the peak.

What is the best time of year to climb Scafell Pike?

Timing matters a lot when it comes to climbing Scafell Pike if you plan to make the best out of your experience. You need to pick a time when the mountain will be snow-free and when there will be fewer rainfalls and high winds.

May to October

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

Getting the timing right for the trek will ultimately help make it more enjoyable; it is generally best to avoid July and August as the school holidays will most certainly mean crowds and a less authentic experience.

Early May to Late June

A weekday during late May/early June or the 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.

October to May

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

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

Climbing Scafell Pike at sunrise

Mountain Weather Scafell Pike

It is essential that you check the weather forecast before attempting to climb any mountain, including Scafell Pike. 

Attempting the three peaks challenge in the Summer months will reduce your risk of suffering bad weather conditions.

Check the Met Office weather for an up to date forecast.

WASDALE HEAD WEATHER

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a beginner climb Scafell Pike?

It is advised that you go with a guide if you’re a beginner. Or else, you need to be very sturdy and wear well-fitting footwear. The climb is tough and should not be underestimated. Hence, it’s better to be safe by taking a guide with you.

No matter what route you take, the climb is challenging and needs adequate planning and preparation. A good number of climbers successfully get to the peak without any help. Those unlucky few – who may not have prepared adequately – fail and need to be rescued.

This depends on the route you choose to take, although the fastest and shortest route is the Wasdale route. It also depends on how fast you climb and the weather of the day.

Of course you can. Depending on how fast you climb and which route you take, you can successfully climb to the peak and return back down in a day.

It is always best to be prepared. You need to navigate properly to reach the top and you need as much guidance as possible since none of the routes are waymarked.

Wild camping in the Lake District is accepted as long as you are within recognised guidelines. Read about the guidelines here on the National Trust website.

One of the bigger towns in the area, Keswick, is situated 8 miles away from the start of the Scafell Pike walk at Seathwaite. The Lake District has some beautiful villages.

This depends on the route you choose to take.

  • The postcode for Wasdale Head is CA20 1EX
  • The postcode for the Seathwaite route start is CA12 5XJ

These are the two most followed routes. Once you’ve decided on the route to follow, you can then find out its postcode.

Paths on Scafell Pike are marked on the OS Explorer OL 6 map.

It covers all routes on Scafell Pike – including popular routes for the National Three Peaks, Wasdale Head and Seathwaite – and other routes in the South Western area of the Lake District National Park.

Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis & Snowdon – Guided Treks

Mountaineerin can arrange professional, guided expeditions tailored to your needs. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small group of friends or a fund-raiser for a worthy cause.

  • When you book with Mountaineerin you’re not just booking someone to walk up and down a mountain with. You are booking years of experience and knowledge of how to get the most of the environment, stay safe whilst there, look after it and most of all enjoy it!
  • You will need a minimum of 5 people for a bespoke trek
  • Cost per person £45
  • Treks available from April to October – date to suit you

Make an enquiry for a guided expedition

Tell us a bit about your group and what date you have in mind and I will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your guided trek!

Bes wishes,

Simon

  • Booking enquiry

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Join Mountaineerin for an organised trek or challenge

Looking for a Challenge? Mountaineerin also run organised National 3 Peaks Challenge events running between April and October each year.

Our qualified and first aid trained UK mountain leaders will guide you as you climb each mountain, guaranteeing a safe, fun and fulfilling climb to each summit.

Alternatively, why not consider the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge?

Happy Trekking!

Simon

Simon Ogunlana, Founder & Director

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