When visiting Scafell Pike why not extend your trip to take in many of the sights and enjoy the numerous activities that the Lake District has to offer? It is safe to say that when visiting Scafell Pike that there is plenty to keep you in the area longer. You will need a few days stay to take in all that the Lake District has to offer. Please note that some activities may require booking in advance.
When visiting Scafell Pike, why not extend your trip to take in many of the sights and enjoy the numerous activities that the Lake District has to offer? When visiting Scafell Pike, it is safe to say that there is plenty to keep you in the area longer. You will need a few days' stay to take in all the Lake District offers. Please note that some activities may require booking in advance.
What's In The Valleys Around Scafell Pike?
Scafell Pike can be accessed from three different Lake District valleys: Borrowdale, Wasdale and Great Langdale. All three are beautiful in their own unique way, with each valley offering you a different route to the summit of Scafell Pike.
Down in the valleys, you’ll find everything from cosy pubs where you can relax with a well-earned pint after your hike to spectacular views of England’s deepest lake. With a range of accommodations to suit most budgets, as well as fantastic shops, sights and attractions, you should find the perfect base for your hike up Scafell Pike (and somewhere to rest your head and feet afterwards).
Read on to find out more about these scenic valleys that surround Scafell Pike.
The beautiful Borrowdale valley lies north of Scafell Pike. It is home to the small farming hamlet of Seathwaite and the magnificent oak trees of Brandlehow Woods (the National Trust’s historic first purchase in the Lake District). From the remote fell-top sheep farms and wild, rugged landscapes at the head of the valley, Borrowdale runs down to the bustling town of Keswick on the shores of one of the area’s most scenic lakes, Derwentwater.
Borrowdale Valley is overlooked by some of the most dramatic mountains in the Lakes: Catbells, Skiddaw, and Castle Crags – to name but a few! From the head of the valley, the River Derwent runs down through the narrowest part of the valley, known as the “jaws of Borrowdale’, gathering pace before flowing into the deep waters of Derwentwater.
Borrowdale has some interesting historical sites, such as the Castlerigg Stone Circle, which dates back to Neolithic times. The circle is also one of the valley’s best viewpoints, with stunning panoramic views to breathe in. Or venture out to explore some of Derwentwater’s islands, such as St. Herbert’s Island, once the hermitage of a 7th-century saint and the inspiration for Beatrix Potter’s ‘Owl Island’ in her story about the naughty Squirrel Nutkin.
The market town of Keswick is a favourite destination among visitors to the Lake District, offering colourful markets, friendly cafes, great outdoor gear shopping, and plenty of traditional pubs to shelter from the good old Cumbrian rain in! You can also take to the lake in a rowing boat for a fun family experience.
Where to stay
You’ve got plenty of accommodation options if you opt to stay in Borrowdale. Keep it simple with a stay at the laid-back Chapel House Farm campsite, surrounded by dramatic crags and awe-inspiring views on all sides. Or go for a cosy B&B among the Lake Districts’ famous smiley Herdwick Sheep at Yew Tree Farm.
Route to Scafell Pike
The route up Scafell Pike from Borrowdale could be considered the least challenging of our three routes, offering a gentler ascent than the route from Wasdale and a shorter walk than the route from Great Langdale. However, it is still a much longer day's walk than from Wasdale. And that’s not to say it’s a walk in the park!
Your route starts at Seathwaite Farm and takes you up to Esk Hause alongside a mountain stream. From Esk Hause, you follow cairns across the back of the sheer cliffs you faced on your ascent, climbing until you reach the summit of Scafell Pike.
The dramatic valley of Wasdale is the starting point for the shortest (although not necessarily easiest) route up Scafell Pike. Located to the west of the mountain, Wasdale is perhaps the most remote and unspoilt of the three valleys surrounding Scafell Pike, boasting spectacular views with steep sloping screes dropping down to the shores of Wastwater, England’s deepest lake at 258 feet deep. Come sunshine or rain, Wasdale valley has an imposing presence that is formidable on a dark day.
The view from the lakeshore up to the head of the Wasdale valley was deservedly voted ‘Britain’s favourite view’ in 2007. From vast panoramas to something more small-scale, Wasdale is also the place to visit the tiny and picturesque St. Olaf’s church, considered the smallest church in England. And, of course, the deep, cold waters of Wastwater are popular with divers, kayakers and swimmers alike.
Wasdale may be remote, but it has a strong community – and, most importantly, some great pubs! The small hamlet of Wasdale Head is home to a fantastic inn of the same name, offering accommodation, camping and the handy Barn Door Shop alongside pulling pints. Further down the valley, Nether Wasdale has a small group of lively traditional pubs, where you can find cosy log fires, hearty food, a microbrewery and occasional live music.
Close to the Scafell Pike car park, you will find St Olaf’s at Wasdale Head. St Olaf’s is the smallest church in England (very small) yet very pretty. The churchyard also shows graves of climbers who have been killed on the mountain over the years. Fortunately, Scafell Pike deaths are not very common, although these graves are a stern reminder for hikers to follow safety guidelines when climbing Scafell Pike mountain.
If you are staying in Wasdale, it’s an easy journey to the neighbouring valley of Eskdale, where you’ll find more great pubs and the famous ‘La’al Ratty’ steam train of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway that runs from Eskdale through seven miles of stunning scenery down to the pretty seaside town of Ravenglass.
Where to stay
There are a few accommodation choices in Wasdale, from camping to pub B&B’s, to the more luxurious Low Wood Hall Hotel, set within a grand Victorian house. You can also choose to stay in one of the country’s grandest-looking youth hostels, the lakeside Wasdale Hall Youth Hostel, which is housed in a 200-year-old manor house and offers private en-suite rooms dorms.
Route to Scafell
The starting point for your route up Scafell Pike is the Wasdale Head car park. You’ll cross Lingmell Beck and climb steeply up to the summit to enjoy those breathtaking views. It is almost entirely uphill, but what did you expect to climb the tallest mountain in England?
Situated to the east of Scafell Pike, the U-shaped valley of Great Langdale is home to dramatic crags, cascading waterfalls, and the small calm lake, Elterwater. The neighbouring valley of Little Langdale is located just over the Lingmoor Fells and is home to some lovely pubs and pretty tarn. Great Langdale is a great place to escape the busyness of everyday life and relax in peaceful, unspoilt surroundings.
The most notable feature of Great Langdale is the view of the craggy Langdale Pikes to the north of the valley, made up of the Pike of Stickle, Loft Crag, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark. Their rocky outline dominates the skyline of Great Langdale, treating you to spectacular views for waking up to. The rock climbers among you won’t be able to resist scaling some fantastic climbing routes on offer, such as Gimmer Crag or Raven Crag.
Running down from the Langdale Pikes is the narrow Dungeon Ghyll and the more open Stickle Ghyll, which takes you on a lovely route up to Stickle Tarn. The waterfalls of Dungeon Ghyll Force tumble down the ravine, creating small pools along the way – perfect for a paddle!
Great Langdale’s natural landscape is undeniably beautiful, but you’ve also got the shops, restaurants and hotels of nearby Ambleside within easy reach should you want to venture back into civilisation. Ambleside is one of the Lake District’s most popular tourist towns, boasting pretty buildings, cosy cafes, and a fantastic location right on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England. Beatrix Potter fans, young and old, will love a visit to the Armitt Museum, or why not take a cruise on one of the traditional steamers to explore the vast silvery lake?
Where to stay
You’ll find a selection of accommodations in Great Langdale, from a fantastic National Trust campsite to self-catering cottages, bunkhouses and luxurious hotels. The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel is ideally placed for beginning your ascent of Scafell Pike; you can leave right from your door. Their Hiker’s Bar is a lively place to relax, with real ales and great whiskies. Or if you fancy some serious indulgence, opt for the Langdale Hotel and Spa, set within acres of tranquil woodlands, and treat yourself to some well-earned spa treatments after your hike.
Route to Scafell
The route up Scafell Pike from Great Langdale is the longest of our three routes, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across the fells. The route begins at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and takes you up Bowfell, across to Esk Pike, and the summit of Scafell Pike. You’ll then return past Angle Tarn and the waterfalls of Rossett Gill, so there are plenty of opportunities for a refreshing head dunk if you need it!
Mountain biking in & around Scafell Pike
Mountain biking across the open scenery of the Lake District, past the silver tarns, over the rocky paths and rugged ground with the sun on your face and the wind on your back, is not an opportunity to be missed.
Often with many of these tracks and routes, you will be out in the middle of the fells by yourself or with a few friends and whatever other supplies you can carry. This sense of remoteness and majestic scenery is probably the exact reasons that you have chosen to come here in the first place, but these are also the exact factors that make it difficult to rescue you if you get hurt. Good research of the routes you wish to attempt is vital!
Where to start
Esk Hause is a great place to start for mountain biking around Scafell Pike. This is a mountain pass that sits at the crossroads of Borrowdale, Eskdale, Langdale and Wasdale. Esk Hause is the highest pass in the Lake District, although Sticks pass is often incorrectly awarded this title. This is because there are two mountain passes close together that are both known as Esk Hause, and the higher of the two is lesser known. Walkers generally use this point to continue up to the summits of Scafell Pike, Great End, Esk Pike and Allen Crags.
A great descent on your bike from this point is to head past Sprinkling Tarn, down to Styhead Tarn and on to Stockley Bridge. This ride offers expansive views and rough, challenging ground with plenty of scope for alternative pathways and routes.
At Styhead Tarn it also is possible to descend to Seathwaite, both being testing and adventurous routes. The Tarn itself contains brown trout, and although it is unlikely that you will have a fishing rod handy on a mountain biking trip, it is possible to fish here. The route also reveals the commanding views over Borrowdale that you will be able to witness. The track from Esk Hause to the top of Rossett Ghyll is another pathway that is good for riding, and it has a well-surfaced path.
As the track switches back down Rosett Ghyll it becomes much more challenging, but can be a lot of fun if you trust your own abilities. The track that descends from Stakes Pass to Langdale is also definitely worth a mention. The land up here is wild and rugged, and so is the route. You are much less likely to meet many other mountain bikers, and it is perfect if you are motivated to head out into the hardy charm of the English Lakes and aim to move faster than a slow walking pace.
A good way to experience the surrounding area is to pick one of the looping tracks that travel through the nearby Langdale valleys. There are a wide variety of tracks to suit all abilities here, from the old quarry and ancient packhorse routes to surfaced tarmac roads and single-track bridleways. This makes Langdale a great area to explore by bike, regardless of age, experience, time frame or group demographic. A decent exploration of both valleys could take as long as you wanted it to. I recommend a 3 – 4 hour circular ride, beginning and ending in Stickle Ghyll Carpark, as this provides a decent insight into this old slate and Neolithic stone axe-producing area.
The rough route begins with the tarmac ascent to Blea Tarn, giving you views of the valley and a decent altitude to descend from. It also gets the toughest part over and done with at the beginning! Follow the little Langdale road and turn right at the t-junction. A left in 250m leads you onto the track to begin the rest of the route. You must navigate across Greenburn beck and along the main track past Low Garth Hall. Next, find your way across the River Brathay, along the track to Dale end. Head towards Elderwater, and the conditions get much rougher, steeper and more fun. The route travels past Baysbrown and joins the bridleway, offering more technical riding and the odd rock and boulder. Follow this bridleway until Oak Howe, and beyond that, to Great Langdale Beck before a short climb to the valley road. From here, it’s only a short ride back to Stickle Ghyll Car Park.
The whole route covers 9.5 miles of tarmac, track and bridleway and is an excellent way of discovering these roughly hewn yet scenic and atmospheric valleys.
For a serious challenge, the nearby Hardknott Pass is worth a shot if you are feeling foolhardy. Although the route is tarmac, the road is a difficult fitness test to overcome. Travel on the minor tarmac road between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley, and you will find a punishing climb, and of course, the well-deserved reward of the descent. The road approaching the pass is the steepest in England, although Chimney Bank in North Yorkshire also vies for this accolade. Some sections have a gradient of almost 20 degrees, but ignore the lactic acid and the viewpoints on a clear day will allow you to see as far as the Isle of Man.
Activities Further Afield
There is plenty to do outside of the three central Scafell Pike valleys in the wider Lake District area. It's easy to access activities and attractions for all interests, particularly if you have a car. However, some bus and train connections are available.
Family Fun Near Scafell Pike
There are many places that visitors to Scafell Pike may enjoy once they’ve conquered the mountain.
Scafell Pike has been part of the Lake District National Park since 1919, and now families may enjoy a significant number of attractions that the park runs or maintains, including:
- A Treetop Trek adventure
- An adventure playground
- Many parks and open areas to run around, explore and enjoy, with or without a picnic
- Visitor centres run events around the year aimed at families with children who like to learn, have fun and be outdoors.
- An indoor soft play centre with colouring-in activities and more which is perfect for when the weather refuses to play ball
- For details of child-friendly events and special offers running during your stay, get in touch with the Lake District National Park directly or the Visitor Centre you intend to visit.
There are plenty of boating activities available for those who are either more experienced or are complete novices. The Coniston Boating Centre, for example, has sailing boats, motorboats, canoes and more to help you enjoy a day out on the water. The beauty of being in the Lake District is that there are many beautiful lakes to visit.
For those preferring to enjoy a less vigorous time on the water, some fabulous steamer trips come out of Coniston via the Keswick launch Company (Derwentwater), Ullswater Steamers, and you may even enjoy a Windermere lake cruise.
Local Attractions and Events
As well as enjoying a Scafell Pike hike, you can visit a wide variety of nearby places of interest, all of which make extending your stay worthwhile.
- Extreme driving experiences
- Several picturesque walks both up, around and beyond Scafell Pike
- The Keswick Brewery and the Keswick Adventure Centre
- Go Ape for the adventurous types
- A climbing centre, bird of prey centre and wildlife oasis at Lakeland
- Muncaster Castle (over 800 years old)
- Lowther Castle
- The Laurel and Hardy Museum
- The very popular Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and much more.
- Kayaking on Wast Water
The Lake District boasts several well-attended and very popular county shows throughout the year. These are fabulous family events and have something for everyone.