Exploring Scafell Pike – wild camping with this Lake District giant

Scafell Pike

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…)

Wast water viewed from exploring Scafell Pike
A gentle sloping into the Wast water puddle

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.

Image of Scafell Pike car park in the Lake District
We made some new friends in the Scafell Pike car park!

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.

Image from climbing Scafell Pike
Stunning panorama from climbing the Corridor, facing Scafell Pike

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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32 thoughts on “Exploring Scafell Pike – wild camping with this Lake District giant

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    1. I can’t remember all the names of the other peaks, except for the Gables, but Scafell does make for a unique experience – I hope you can make it out soon too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I never hiked before, so not sure I would manage such a trip to Scafell Pike, but the views are so worth it! Would love to try camping maybe in the Lake District! Thank you for sharing these great pictures, Tom 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, it really was remarkable! Amongst the numerous sights England has to offer, I’m sure the Lake District ranks particularly highly, with Scafell Pike one of the most impressive attractions


    1. I’m hoping to attempt the 3 peaks challenge as well soon! Scafell was spectacularly attractive, I’m glad you enjoyed this insight


    1. You’re very welcome! It’s a very manageable trek with the proper considerations in place, but certainly nothing to shrug off


  2. Be prepared is jolly good advice! When out in nature exploring the stars and fells she holds close to her, anything thing can happen. Often those unexpected things deepen our appreciation for a place and give us a story to tell.
    Love that you share some lovely photos from your trip and vividly write of your experience! The view from the Corridor is a place where I imagine elves dwell. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a mischievous realm in which anything is possible. Despite the hardships inflicted upon us, it’s only exacerbated the vivid memories I hold – the fells are truly spectacular!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Open spaces in the US seem brilliant because they’re so vast, but I agree especially in the further North in Scotland there’s a bewitching quality to the untamed beauty, underscored by ferocious weather. Hopefully you have a chance to come back and explore soon, I’m glad you enjoyed the post!


    1. We were unfortunate enough to endure some of that rainfall, which was pretty fierce! Some days it can be remarkably sunny, which makes everything look so much more beautiful


  3. As I click the link to this post and open it, the first picture is just breath-taking. If that was a pin, I’d share it all over my social media. These views are mesmerizing. You are very lucky to be able to walk, hike & camp there. I wish I can do that someday! I love love love your photos.

    Although it seems challenging and wild, this is a whole adventure that I’d love to experience 😀 Amazing post, Tom!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Scafell Pike! I don’t live too far from the Lake District so I’ve hiked to the top many a time! Such a great place to visit and it’s the perfect weekend break! Thanks for sharing! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very envious of that – it’s sadly too much of a journey for me to realistically visit that frequently, though the Lake District never disappoints whenever I am able to make it up there!


  5. I wouldn’t lie, given the choice between hiking and putting up my feet somewhere in a spa, i’d choose the latter. But having read your post and eyed your pics I may just be tipped into this Scafell Pike, hike!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hikes to these beautiful and romantic terrains are a great way to get an idea of our relationship with nature. I liked your new friends you have encountered on the way. You are right; weather can change in these places instantly, so better be prepared and should not take wilderness lightly.
    Nice photos and lovely description.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks – meeting the sheep provided our walk with an amusing conclusion! There’s undoubtably a duality to adventures like these, between the beauty of the nature, and the potential challenge she poses through the occasionally vicious elements. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

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