Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England’s highest peak

 In Active Travel, England, Europe, United Kingdom

There are some seriously beautiful hikes to go on here in the UK. If we get the weather, which admittedly isn’t always the case, the views rival those that I’ve witnessed in the likes of New Zealand and the French Alps. I’m guilty of overlooking the beauty on our doorstep, and I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that.

Over the years I’ve managed to hop across to a fair few of the National Parks we have here in the UK to escape the city hustle and indulge in some quality countryside living.

I’ve summited Wales highest peak, Snowdon, during the first ever WMGT event in Snowdonia. I’ve spent weekends with friends in the Peak District, Cornwall, Sussex and the Yorkshire Dales where I also completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

Most recently I headed up to the North West region of England for a three-day getaway in the Lake District National Park.

Amongst other adventures, we took on the second of the National Three Peaks and hiked to the summit of England’s highest mountain: Scafell Pike.

See my full 3 day adventure itinerary here.

Climbing the highest peaks in the UK has become an increasingly popular activity and so, now that I’ve completed another, I thought I’d share my top tips plus the experience with you.

Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

Where is Scafell Pike?

Scafell Pike is in the Lake District, a stunning National Park in the North West region of England.

To drive to the Lake District, it’s about five hours from London and the South East, 1.5 hours from Manchester and two hours from York.

Top tip: Try and lift share if possible! Parking can be tight at times, and you’ll also save yourself parking and petrol money, not to mention the impact life sharing has on the environment!

You can also get to the Lake District by bus and train. Trains stop throughout the park, such as at Oxenholme, Windermere, Carlisle, Barrow, Kendal and Penrith. Check bus and train connections here.

There are lots of places to stay in the area: check out booking.com, Airbnbs, campsites, and you can also book directly with the Lake District National Park who will use money earned on bookings to reinvest in the park. We stayed at Castlerigg Hill Campsite in the Inspire Pod.

  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

How easy is it to hike Scafell Pike?

It completely depends which path you go for. We took on the most popular path (and the one people usually take when taking on the National Three Peaks Challenge) which goes from Wasdale Head and it was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated. This is considered the easier path.

The incline was pretty relentless and my calves were definitely burning, but there are plenty of places to rest and break it up.

It took us 2 hours to hike up and 2 hours to hike down, so a quicker completion than the 4-6 hours noted online when I researched. That was probably due to the wet, low visibility conditions – we weren’t keen to stand still for longer than 1 minute due to the drop in our body temperature when doing so.

Had it been a brighter day with clearer views we would have probably stopped to take it in more and eaten lunch on the way. Our hike was of the straight up, take some photos, straight down kind.

  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

The ease of hiking Scafell Pike is also very dependent on weather and you shouldn’t take weather warnings lightly. The lady working for the National Trust in the car park when we began our hike told us that there had been two fatalities in the past 8 week from poor decision making and the choice of hikers to take the unbeaten paths without the essential tools: a compass and a map.

In the car parks they have daily predictions and will be there to guide you.

Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

Which path should you take?

There are two main paths for climbing Scafell Pike.

https://www.threepeakschallenge.uk/national-three-peaks-challenge/scafell-pike

1. Wasdale Head

This was the path that I chose, and is the easier of the two main paths.

The postcode for Wasdale Head is CA20 1EX. Park at the Lake Head car park for minimise the disruption in the local community.

From the car park, follow the road to the footpath, and follow this over a footbridge and onwards to Lingmell Gill. Here, bear to the left, heading uphill before crossing the river and passing Brown Tongue, and continuing to the peak of Scafell Pike.

The Wasdale Head route is six miles long, up and down, and includes 989 metres of ascent.

For more information and the source of this information, visit www.threepeakschallenge.uk.

Top tip: Take cash for the car park machine or walk to campsite shop with your card. It’s £7 for the day parking.

  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

2. Seathwaite

I didn’t do this path, but it looks good anyway!

The postcode for the Seathwaite route start is CA12 5XJ. There is limited parking along the roadside leading to the farm.

From the parking, walk through the farm, over Stockley Bridge, to Styhead Gill. From Sty Head, continue to Corridor Route to Lnigmell Col, and on to the peak of Scafell Pike.

The Seathwaite route is 9.5 miles long, up and down, and includes 996 metres of ascent.

For more information and the source of this information, visit www.threepeakschallenge.uk.

Top tip: If you’re looking to take on one of the more challenging ‘off the beaten path’ trails, be sure to have a map and compass with you.

What are the essentials for climbing Scafell Pike?

 

Comfortable hiking shoes / boots – that fit properly!

Depending on which path you choose, you’ll be out hiking for between 3-7 hours so you’ll want to make sure you don’t accumulate blisters in the first hour, otherwise it will be an uncomfortable ride!

Walking socks

These are just as important as good shoes to cushion and let your feet breathe.

Hiking trousers or workout wear

Wear the comfiest bottoms you own! 

Layers, lots of layers

Honestly, my temperature fluctuated ridiculously even within 5-minute intervals. The weather in the mountains can change by the minute and when you combine that with a selection of flat paths and steep gradients, your body gets a bit confused and your outfits should accommodate to comfort yourself. We started the hike with clear skies and vest tops and by the time we reached the summit I had my woolly hat, thermals and gloves on!

Waterproof layer / jacket

England is known for it’s rain after all.

– A comfortable hiking backpack

It’s only recently that I realised the important of this. When enduring these longer hikes, you’ll most likely be taking a lot of water and snacks too. When carrying weight and hiking, it’s important that the weight is distributed correctly to avoid doing yourself damage – we only get one body, so we need to look after it!

– A camera

The views are pretty remarkable. 

– Lots of water

– A little first aid kit (paracetamol, savlon (antiseptic cream), blister plasters, tissues, mosquito repellent and after-bite, etc.)

– Beanie hat, scarf and hand warmers

– Suncream

Remember to apply suncream and mosquito repellent regularly as you’ll sweat it off pretty quickly!

  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

Top tips and things to note when climbing Scafell Pike:

– Be sure to map out your route before you start and take the right path back down. Rumour has it a taxi around from one side of the mountain to the other will set you back £150.

– There’s no cafe at the summit or toilets, so empty out at the start or embrace the wilder wee!

– Bring tissues / hand sanitiser if you do the latter!

– Phone signal went in and out during the hike.

Bring a compass and map if you decide to navigate to the summit off the main paths. Particularly if visibility is poor.

Check the weather report before you ascend for extreme weather warnings.

  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak

Have you climbed Scafell Pike?

What are you top tips? I’d love to know!

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
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