Let’s Start at the Very Beginning … …
There are many, many routes you can use to walk up Scafell Pike – some relatively easy, others more strenuous. First-timers attempting the Scafell Pike walk are advised to start with the easiest and, once you have fallen in love with the view from the top; make your next ascent a little more daring.
The Scafell Pike routes below are not exhaustive, but are listed by starting location, in order of difficulty and length of time it may take to complete. Please note that you should always allow more time than you think is necessary, ensure that you have suitable clothing in case the weather changes, and carry plenty of water.
To understand these routes fully, it is best to refer to a comprehensive map of Scafell Pike.
Scafell Pike From Borrowdale (2 Routes – Ascent 3,020 feet)
Borrowdale to Scafell Pike via Grains Gill and Esk Hause is a long, but not too steep ascent. The round trip is about 10 miles and starts by heading south from Seathwaite to the head of the Grains Gill valley. Underneath the cliffs of Great End, the route joins the Langdale to Sty Head path, and then heads south east before branching right to go up to Esk Hause. From Esk Hause, the path climbs onto the main ridge of the Scafell massif and skirts the boulder strewn Ill Crag and Broad Crag before finally climbing to the summit of Scafell Pike.
An alternative Scafell Pike route from Borrowdale leaves Seathwaite as above, but at Stockley Bridge you take the west branch of the path that heads towards Styhead Tarn. From Styhead Tarn, this Scafell Pike route briefly follows the path towards Esk Hause and Langdale, but suddenly turns south to join the Corridor Route. At the western end of this path, you have the choice of reaching the summit of Scafell Pike via Broad Col or Brown Tongue. Many people attempting this Scafell Pike route will use the latter, as it avoids a steep climb at the top of Broad Col and many of the views remain hidden – making your arrival at the summit vastly more satisfying!
The round trip on this alternative Scafell Pike route from Borrowdale is twelve miles, but is a little more exposed and therefore it is better to attempt it when the wind is not howling around your ears. There is also a little-known third alternative, swimming up the Esk Gorge! It has been done, but involves plenty of scrambling over rocks in your Speedos, and is one Scafell Pike route best left to weather hardened professionals and Japanese game contestants!
Scafell Pike From Wasdale (2 Routes – Ascent 2,993 feet)
Wasdale to Scafell Pike is one of the most popular and easiest routes to do the Scafell Pike walk however, like the walk from Borrowdale; there are two alternatives – one much simpler than the other. Both Wasdale to Scafell Pike routes start at the free car park at Wasdale Head and head south, skirting around the lower slopes of Lingmell, until it meets Lingmell Gill. Here, it joins with another path from Wasdale head heading east before crossing to Brown Tongue. At this point you have two alternatives. You can ascend to the summit of Scafell Pike via Hollow Stones and Lingmell Col, or choose the trickier ascent through Mickledore – the ridge which connects Sca Fell with Scafell Pike.
Both Scafell Pike routes are approximately 7 miles there and back, but less experienced Scafell Pike visitors are advised to use the Hollow Stones path despite the Mickledore route being more picturesque. The advantage of choosing Wasdale Head as your starting point is that it is easily accessible by car, provides the shortest routes for the Scafell Pike walk and there are plenty of bars, restaurants and accommodation in Wasdale if you plan to extend your visit to Scafell Pike for more than one day.
Scafell Pike From Eskdale (2 Routes – Ascent 3,290 feet)
The Scafell Pike routes from Eskdale are considerably longer in comparison – about a 15 miles round trip – and should not be undertaken in wet and windy conditions unless you are a seasoned Scafell Pike walker. The longer walk is made worthwhile by the beautiful Cam Spout waterfalls (which ironically are much more absorbing when it is wet and windy!) which are reached by departing Eskdale at Whahouse Bridge, and travelling north-east, past Taw House, and then turning west just past Scale Gill. The path rises over a plateau and continues until it meets up with the River Esk and proceeds onto Cam Spout.
From Cam Spout, both the Scafell Pike routes involve a step ascent. The first turns off to the north-west and ascends to Mickledore. The second continues north-east until it passes Dow Crag (on your left) and arrives at the foot of Little Narrowcove. From here, there is a long step ascent to the Broad Crag Col. Once you have achieved this climb, it is best to stop for a rest and admire the view before making the final south-west ascent to Scafell Pike.
Scafell Pike From Great Langdale (Just the 1 Route – Ascent 3,460 feet)
The Scafell Pike route from Great Langdale is an 11 mile round trip and starts at the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel. It is not a particularly difficult route, and minor changes can be incorporated into your Scafell Pike walk so that you witness different scenery on the way up than you see on the way down. The basic route heads west under Raven Crag before going north-west beside Mickleden Beck. Once you have crossed Stake Gill, the path ascends until you reach Angle Tarn. Thereafter, the route first heads north-west along the Sty Head path before turning south-west to reach Esk Hause. From here you join the first Scafell Pike route from Borrowdale – ascending the path which leads onto the main ridge of the Scafell massif, and following the route which leads you to the summit of Scafell Pike via Ill Crag and Broad Crag.
Variations on the above could include passing through Oxendale to Crinkle Crags and then onto Great End through Bow Fell and Esk Pike, or returning via this Scafell Pike route.