Towering 978m above sea level, Scafell Pike is the UK’s tallest point, making summiting this enjoyable ascent an immense achievement. Gifted to the National Trust as a WWI memorial for conservation, there’s plenty of room for exploration!
Several routes ascend to Scafell Pike, the most popular stretching 5.7 miles into the clouds. Despite frequent poor visibility, navigation is relatively simple, especially compared to other Lake District hills.
To fully appreciate the area, consider spending the night; the foot of Scafell Pikes hosts a nearby hostel, and pub. Alternatively, you can camp, which extends to wild camping, affording a deeper appreciation of the area’s natural power. There’s an inherent majesty palpable throughout the land, as the ferocious elements and staggering terrain contends with adventurers. A blissfully preserved gem, it’s not to be missed!
This post also appeared on Tales from a Tent.
Why explore Scafell Pike?
The rugged landscape makes for a gorgeous panorama, with the Lake District one of the prettiest destinations in the United Kingdom. For spectacular scenery and glorious undulations, there are few rivals. Wast water, a major reservoir, is visible from the main path in all its shimmering glory, and can be used on occasion for water sports or wild swimming.
The drive alone into the heart of the Lake District is breath-taking.
If views alone fail to satisfy you, wear it as a badge of honour. Scaling this intimidating mountain is a proud achievement, and enables you to access the best vantage point (cloud cover permitting) in England. Multiple, intrepid walking routes through the Lake District incorporate Scafell Pike, for the pillar of success it represents, delivering satisfying exertion.
For those feeling particularly brave, why not plan to ascend Scafell Pike within the Three Peaks Challenge? This pits explorers against Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike, keeping to a target time of under 24 hours. Appearing daunting at first, this can be a fun charitable endeavour.
Wonderfully dramatic, Scafell Pike is undoubtedly worth visiting (when safe to do so again…)
Getting to Scafell Pike
It’s entirely possible to utilise a number of different methods in reaching Scafell Pike, including public transport. Bus and train connections will most likely prove inadequate, however. For the latter, the closest train stations are Penrith and Oxenhome, which connect from London Euston or Glasgow, though both remain approximately 30 miles from Scafell Pike. A bus network will take you closer still, but deposit you a decent walk from the start point.
My best recommendation would be private car – even a rented coach might struggle against the narrow and often steep roads. Wasdale Car Park, monitored by the National Trust, is relatively straight-forward to find, and is fantastically convenient to attempt the climb from (postcode: CA20 1EX). Alternatively, during busy periods, a mile further on the same road, a free car park close to Seathwaite Farm might be available, permitting overnight parking.
If you’re suitably prepared, visiting Scafell Pike can be part of a much larger walk. Be warned, this would make for a genuine expedition, not a simple day trip. As part of my D of E award (Duke of Edinburgh, see here if you’re unfamiliar), when equipped with an updated ordinance survey map (and keen enthusiasm, obviously), it was manageable.
For the most intrepid voyagers, it’s entirely possible to purchase guides, or follow suggestions from the Lake District Park Trust.
Climbing Scafell Pike
Exploring Scafell Pike involves a deeply satisfying and rewarding climb – I’d also hesitantly proffer my assessment of not too difficult, either. Not to encourage bad practises, or ill-preparation. If in doubt, anticipate requiring solid footwear, potentially hiking boots, flexible sports clothing, and packed rations as a minimum requirement. There were some young children embarking upon the ascent during my visit (accompanied by adults), though I can’t definitively speak to their ability, and accept it would be irresponsible to call this walk ‘easy’.
Thankfully, navigation is relative simple if attempting a day trip from the main car park. There’s a distinct, shingle-based path which, depending on the time and season you visit, will likely be populated by other walkers. This morphs into an irregular staircase for the final stages of the climb.
If joining from the second car park, several conjoined fields connect to an additional path which traverses the mountain towards the main path.
At several points, the path is likely to be wet. In heavy rains, lower sections can become flooded, resulting in slippery conditions. Closer to the middle, a river dissects the path. Though shallow, and simple to hop from various, large rocks, shoes and socks might fall victim to light damp in this section.
Once at the peak, feel free to wander the surrounding shingle, embracing the incredible panorama. It might be an enjoyable place to picnic, provided you leave no rubbish from your visit.
Camping around Scafell Pike
Currently, wild camping is prohibited without having receiving prior, permission from private land owners, whilst the limited areas managed by the Lake District trust expressly forbid wild camping. It is very possible, however, to explore the number of regulated campsites, transforming your encounter with Scafell Pike into a more memorable experience.
The Wasdale National Trust campsite is situated at the foot of Scafell Pike, offering 120 pitches, though it requires a minimum 2 night stay. Numerous other campsites are scattered across the Lake District, easily accessible with a car.
When planning your trip, please consider current COVID regulations, and safety precautions. Recently, mountain rescuers were dispatched in aid of two climbers stranded and developing hypothermia. The subsequent operation saw one rescuer fall 500 feet and suffer ‘life-changing injuries’ in an entirely ‘avoidable situation’. Know your limitations, know the season, and be prepared.
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Recognising that the appeal of camping is not universal, several functional B&Bs also provide services in the area. Close to Scafell Pike, the Burnthwaite B&B, Wasdale Head Inn, and Lingmell House all offer accommodation.
Weather around Scafell Pike
It would surely be remiss to omit reference to the volatile weather. Across the year, an average 200 days are expected to be wet, and a further 20 are snowy, contributing to the 3,300ml of precipitation each year. Furthermore, weather becomes more unpredictable in mountainous regions, so anticipate cold, sweeping storms.
That said, over my two Lake District trips, I’ve endured entirely different weather conditions.
Several years ago, it was warm and pleasant for the duration of a week. Most recently, last summer, unbelievably torrential rain lashed against our tent fuelled by a vicious gale determined to break our resolve. Inflicting unrelenting, pounding winds that whipped the sodden fabric of our tent against our trembling bodies, it seemed a divine force imbued with the fury of the hills.
It was a bad night.
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As could also be expected, my advice is: be prepared. Some of the routes can become more treacherous in heavy rain, since they become slippery, whilst the high ground is more exposed than other areas to wind and rain. The conditions can be challenging. Pack waterproofs, ensure your tent can survive such conditions. If attempting to camp, certainly expect some degree of moisture.
Would I recommend exploring Scafell Pike?
It’s a wonderfully pleasant experience, and gratifying to surmount. Definitely requiring exertion, reaching the top of Scafell Pike is achievable, and promises lovely views. As a day trip, the car parks can be accessed easily – just plan for several hours to complete the entire walk if driving some distance to attempt this.
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