Climbing Scafell Pike

My day climbing Scafell Pike and some tips I learnt along the way.

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Authors
Sarah White
At 978m above sea level, Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England. It’s located in the southern fells of the Lake District between Wasdale and Eskdale. It is incredibly popular with experienced and novice walkers alike. For some (myself included) making it to the summit of Scafell Pike is their first mountain climbing experience.

Routes.

There are 4 main routes to the Summit of Scafell Pike ranging in difficulty. The “easiest” route is the direct line via Brown Tongue from Wasdale Head. This route is popular with climbers completing the Three Peaks Challenge as it’s by far the quickest route.
  • Wasdale/Wasdale Head | Distance 4.2km | Ascent 900m | Time 3–4 hours
  • Langdale | Distance 9km | Ascent 1130m | Time 4 hours
  • Seathwaite, Borrowdale (Corridor Route) | Distance 15km | Ascent 1000m | Time 6 hours+
  • Wasdale/Wasdale Head (Corridor Route) | Distance 12.8km | Ascent 1070m | Time 6.5 hours
 
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12.8km (8 miles) | Total ascent: 1070m | Time: 6.5 hours
 
We decided to take the Wasdale Head (Corridor Route) climb and it did not disappoint. I could honestly just fill this article with the photos! The climb is not too difficult, there are a couple of scramble sections but other than that I think the main thing is the incline, it’s pretty steep! The route itself is fairly rocky with some grassy farmland.
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We started our hike at around 7.30am and it took us a little under 2 hours to get from Wasdale Head Village Green Car Park to Sty Head which is where many of the routes meet as from there you will start the Corridor Route. We stopped twice along the way, once for breakfast about an hour in and then again to take some all-important photos.
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The Corridor Route.

After a quick stop at Sty Head, we started the next leg of the climb, the Corridor Route. The Corridor route involves a few short sections of scrambling and is a nicely challenging route, it rises gently traversing below Great End and Broad Crag, until reaching Lingmel Col. It’s at this point that you will join up with any climbers following the classic Wasdale Route.
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Reaching the Summit.

Towards the end of the Corridor Route we had a slight detour in which we thought we’d found the summit and tried to climb something that ended up being a little more dangerous than originally thought. But we got back on track and made it to the summit. I think you can tell by our faces that it was insanely windy. We had a quick explore and then sat down for brief but well-deserved rest.
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The Descent.

After spending all of about 15 minutes at the Summit. We started our journey back down. It took us just under 2 hours to make it back to Wasdale Head car park, during which my knees experienced pain like never before. Descending is just something different, I don’t know if it’s because you’re so tense with every step or if it was because Scafell Pike is particularly steep, but I was not prepared for that. It’s an entirely different feeling to climbing up, I didn’t get out of breath, I wasn’t particularly tired but my god I thought my knees were done for.
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We took our final rest about 45 minutes from the end, ate the rest of our dried fruit and nuts and I, once again tried to make friends with the local wildlife.
It was at this point that we felt a few drops of rain. We’d been incredibly lucky with the weather so far; it had been of course windy but other than that we’d had a clear and sunny day.
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Luckily for us those few drops of rain we felt whilst sitting with the sheep were pretty much all we had. We completed the last leg of our descent and made it back to Wasdale Head car park.

What I Took & Wore.

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I think it goes without saying but walking boots or at least shoes with very good grip are a must for this climb (and thick comfortable socks), other than that I just wore some fitness leggings, a t-shirt & a waterproof jacket.
In my Eurohike 25L Daysack I took:
  • First Aid kit
  • Water
  • Microfibre Towel
  • Tissues
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Sun Cream
  • Extra Clothes (hoodie, gloves, hat etc.)
  • Sunglasses

Notes For My Next Climb.

As I said at the start, this was my first mountain climb, but I do have another 2 scheduled over the next month or so. I’m going to be climbing Snowdon & Ben Nevis. So, what have I learnt from climbing Scafell Pike?
  • Only take what you need — In an attempt to save space and also because neither of us like the idea of taking lots of stuff, we both only took one bag each containing everything we needed for our trip away. The bag I took was a Eurohike 25L Daysack and whilst it was great and comfortable for the entire climb it’s a lot bigger than I needed. We did leave some of our toiletries in the car but we definitely had more clothes etc. than we needed. I’ve purchased a smaller day bag for my next hike which will be stored in my EuroHike Daysack.
  • Start early — We started this hike at 7.30am and I’m so happy we did; we only saw 3 people the whole way up and I much preferred it that way. You feel as if you’re on a real adventure. On the way down we encountered a lot more people both descending and climbing up and whilst it didn’t spoil the experience, I’m so glad the climb up was almost entirely just the two of us.
  • Be prepared for how you’ll feel after— I climbed Scafell Pike on Thursday 5th August, so at time of writing it was about 4 days ago. Today is the first day I’ve felt “normal” again. The day after the climb I just had a general achiness, but for the 2 days after that (everything else was fine) my calves were struggling.
  • Document the experience — Again this is something I already did, admittedly it’s a 5-minute compilation video (filmed and edited on my phone) where you can just about hear my ramblings over the wind but I love being able to look back on it. Also stop and take photos, now I don’t think you’ll ever be able to fully capture just how beautiful the views are- you certainly can’t capture the scale but none the less you will not want to miss the opportunity to at least try.
 
If you’d like to see the accompanying amateur video of our adventure climbing Scafell Pike you can check it out here.