Guided Walks: Scafell Pike - Climb England's Highest Mountain


… the Mecca of all weary pilgrims in Lakeland, the place of many ceremonies and celebrations, of bonfires and birthday parties; the ultimate; the supreme; the one objective above all others; the highest ground in England; the top of Scafell Pike.
(Alfred Wainwright. A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells; Book 4, The Souther Fells.)

At 978m (3209ft) the summit of Scafell Pike is the highest point in England, and is undoubtedly our most popular guided walk. When describing Scafell Pike, the much loved author of Lake District guide books, Alfred Wainwright, wrote that “Roughness and ruggedness are the necessary attributes (to make a mountain) and the Pike has these in greater measure than any other high ground in the country – which is just as it should be, for there is no higher ground than this."

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Guided Mountain, Hill and Fell walking, and mountain skills training courses in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales

Stunning view of Scafell from Wasdale

It is this roughness and ruggedness that gives Scafell Pike it’s character. Unlike some of the other high peaks in the UK, there is no straightforward, paved path to the summit of Scafell Pike. The summit ridge is rocky and barren, and an ascent from any direction represents a true mountain journey, with the option of taking in a number of other peaks on the way. To climb Scafell Pike via any of the established routes presents a challenging but immensely fulfilling journey through the very heart of the Lake District mountains.

The summit itself was donated to the National Trust by Lord Leconfield in 1919 as a memorial "to the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom, peace and right in the Great War 1914 – 1918."

As you would expect from the highest point in England, the views from the top are unrivaled. Not only across the Lake District but much further afield – Dumfries and Galloway, the Isle of Man, the Wicklow Hills in Ireland, and Snowdonia can all be seen on the right day. So good in fact is the outlook from Scafell Pike that the summit was used in 1826 by the Ordnance Survey to establish the relative positions of Britain and Ireland, by taking readings between between Scafell Pike and Slieve Donard, 111 miles away!















Routes our guided walks up Scafell Pike can take:


From Borrowdale, via Styhead Tarn and the Corridor route.
10 miles with 970m of ascent – expect to take 7-8 hrs.

My favorite route up Scafell Pike! Starting in the much loved Borrowdale valley, this route is easily accessible from Keswick, Penrith and the North Lakes.


A gentle walk along a historic packhorse route, past the waterfall of Taylorgill Force to the stunningly beautiful mountain lake - Styhead Tarn, leads on to the enigmatic Corridor Route (formerly known as the Guides Route). This sneaky little path was (allegedly!) established by whisky smugglers in the 1800’s as a secret route to and from the west coast, avoiding HM Customs and Excise! The route takes us across deep ravines and ghylls, with a couple of short rocky steps where we might need to use our hands for security as we scramble up and down.  Accompanied along the way by fantastic views of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar, we eventually reach Lingmell Coll where we have the option of a short detour to bag the exquisite little summit of Lingmell (807m, 2648ft.), which overlooks Wasdale and Wastwater to the west. From Lingmell Coll it’s a short steep hop to the summit of Scafell Pike.

Our return journey follows the high level broad rocky ridge of Scafell, with the option to take in Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End and Allen Crags before dropping back down through Esk Hause and alongside Grains Gill to our starting point.


 
From Langdale, via Rossett Gill and Esk Hause.
14 miles with 1042m of ascent – expect to take 8-9 hrs.

Conveniently starting and finishing at the walkers and climbers favourite Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale, this route provides a classic long distance journey, through a sublime high level landscape.

Climbers who wish to savour the mountain experience and take on the challenge of the steeps of Scafell should follow this route…
(Bill Birkett. Scafell: Portrait of a Mountain)

Easily accessible from Ambleside, Grasmere, Kendal and the South Lakes, this route begins with a gentle stroll down the lonely Mickleden Valley, at the head of Langdale. This long flat valley provides excellent views of the Langdale Pikes, Gimmer Crag, and the Great Stone Shoot – site of the Neolithic Langdale Axe Factory, evidence of which can still be found, if you know where to look…
At the head of Mickleden we soon start to climb Rossett Gill via an ancient packhorse route. At the point of one of the many hairpins lies a stone cross marking the Packhorse woman’s grave – buried here, according to local legend, in the 1790’s.
At the head of Rossett Gill, with the bulk of the day’s ascent behind us, we approach the ancient crossroads of Esk Hause, the central hub from where many of the major Lake District valleys extend like the spokes of a wheel.
The traverse of the broad, rocky Scafell ridge from here to the summit is as good as it gets for mountain lovers. With options to visit a number of other tops on the way – Esk Pike, Allen Crags, Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, this route is challenging, but provides rewards comparable with any mountain day in the UK!


 

From Wasdale.
The spiritual home of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club, the Wasdale Valley and in particular the Wasdale Head Inn will forever be inextricably associated with the golden years of mountain exploration in the Lake District!

A number of routes to the summit of Scafell begin in Wasdale. The shortest of these follows a well trodden route through the barren basin of Hollow Stones to Lingmell Coll, and is a favorite with charity events, particularly those completing the national three peaks. The route shouldn’t be under estimated however -  navigation through the Hollow Stones basin can be tricky in poor weather, and at approximately 6 miles, the route usually takes 4 – 6 hours to complete, perhaps longer if you really want to appreciate it!