Many people want to climb Scafell Pike to tick it off their mountain climbing bucket list. However, people rarely give much thought to how they’ll get up it. There are three main Scafell Pike routes – the one you take will make a big difference to your experience.
There are three main routes up the mountain. Each starts from a different side of the mountain, and though you’ll get the same view from the top, the routes are very different. It’s well worth looking at your options beforehand.
To choose the best route for you, you’ll need to consider a few things. How confident are you in climbing a 978m mountain? Are you looking for the quickest and most direct ascent possible, or interested in a more varied day out, taking in several mountain peaks? Or even down to more practical things like: where are you staying and which start point is easiest to access? Then you're in the right place!
The walking routes up Scafell Pike are listed below, but also be sure to check out these resources to ensure you're fully prepared:
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Routes from Borrowdale
Climbing Scafell Pike from Borrowdale involves a long, steady approach from the mountain's north. Starting at Seathwaite, you’ll slowly ascend from the valley, climbing alongside the beginnings of the River Derwent, then up a ghyll to Sprinkling Tarn. Styhead Tarn can be seen to the west below Seathwaite Fell. From Styhead Tarn, you’ll traverse around the sheer black crag of Great End to Esk Hause. Now northeast of the Scafell Pike summit, you’ll follow a sparse path and cairns over the shoulders of Ill Crag and Broad Crag to the top.
This is a full-day route, so you’ll need to start early in the day. You’ll experience more of the surrounding mountains without climbing any unnecessary peaks. The climb from the northeast side of Scafell Pike is longer, but the ascent is less abrupt. Most of the time, the route is away from well-made paths, and there are no waymakers.
You can also reach the summit from Borrowdale via the Corridor route.
Routes from Wasdale
Climbing Scafell Pike from Wasdale is the shortest and most direct ascent. Starting from Wasdale Head, at almost sea level, the route starts immediately on the ascent alongside Lingmell Gill. After about 700 vertical metres of ascent over 2 kilometres, the mountain begins to flatten out below Lingmell. At Lingmell Col you will be standing northwest of the summit and clearly in its shadow. Take a path up the shallowest side of Scafell Pike, between two crags and follow it carefully up to the summit trig point and shelter.
This is the shortest route, so a good choice for beginners. The path up to the col is well made and the easiest to follow for those not so confident at navigation. Turning around and retracing your steps if you change your mind is easy. However, the last ascent, from the col to the summit, is less clear, and there are crags on either side.
You can also climb from Wasdale via Lingmell.
Route from Langdale
It is less usual to climb Scafell Pike from Langdale, but still an excellent day out in the mountains. The route involves hiking across several other peaks: Bow Fell and Esk Pike. The route starts at the west end of Langdale valley and ascends onto open land along a ridgeline called The Band. From Three Tarns, at the end of the ridge, there is a steep and rocky ascent to Bow Fell. Then down to Ore Gap and along the ridgeline to Esk Pike. At Esk Hause, the routes join up with the ascent from Borrowdale.
This is a route for confident hikers who want to add more variety to their ascent of Scafell Pike. Or perhaps people who have climbed to the summit from a different side. The paths up to Esk Hause are well made, but since you are starting so far from Scafell Pike, you need to be able to navigate to reach it. There is an excellent view of Scafell Pike from Bow Fell on a clear day.
FAQs About Scafell Pike's Routes
Which is the shortest route up Scafell Pike?
The shortest route to climb Scafell Pike is from Wasdale. Starting from Wasdale Head, which is almost at sea level, this route begins immediately on the ascent alongside Lingmell Gill. It's a good choice for beginners or those looking for a quicker hike. However, while the path up to the col is well made and easy to follow, the final ascent from the col to the summit is less clear, with crags on either side, which can pose a challenge.
Which route offers the best views when climbing Scafell Pike?
All routes to Scafell Pike offer their unique and stunning views, but the route from Langdale is often considered to provide the most variety. It involves hiking across several other peaks, including Bow Fell and Esk Pike, giving you a chance to take in a range of landscapes. There's also an exceptional view of Scafell Pike itself from Bow Fell on a clear day. However, it's worth noting that this route is less common and requires good preparation and navigation skills.
Which route is best for families or less experienced hikers?
There are several routes to the Scafell Pike summit, and with forward planning and the correct equipment, there is no reason why a Scafell Pike walk can’t be a thoroughly enjoyable family affair.
When visiting Scafell Pike as a family, it is important to be more flexible with plans as for children, the journey and exploration of the area are more important than achieving a set goal. Despite this, thousands of families each year enjoy a trip to the area and take part in walks, nature activities, camping and more.
The trek to the summit of Scafell peak takes a minimum of two to three hours for a competent and experienced adult hiker. This time will be extended for children who need to take regular breaks, require carrying or need help climbing over tricky areas. Common sense plays a part in hiking, and while the whole family can enjoy their time at Scafell Pike, it is essential that appropriate goals are set and safety measures considered when taking younger children.
There are many routes to the summit. However, they vary in difficulty and length. The route from Wasdale Head is the shortest route to the summit. However, the Corridor Route from Borrowdale via Styhead Tarn is not too much longer yet has a significantly gentler ascent.
All routes vary; however, the ground around Scafell is littered with boulders and rocks to go around and, in some cases, climb over. Bear this in mind when planning a trip. Even beginners should be prepared and well-equipped for this more challenging section.
Are there any guided treks available for Scafell Pike?
Absolutely! A guided walk can be a fantastic option if you're keen to get the most out of your Scafell Pike experience. These expert mountain guides have a wealth of knowledge about climbing England’s tallest peak. They can provide you with invaluable advice, whilst also pointing out scenic spots you might miss if you're too focused on navigating. Find a guide here.