I’ve got my eyes set on the largest mountain in England and after doing Ben Nevis in early March, I plan to tackle Scafell Pike this weekend. This is the shortest and most direct route up the highest mountain in England – Scafell Pike. Wasdale is a remote valley on the far western side of the Lake District surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery and contains England’s deepest lake, Wast Water.
Scafell Pike cannot be seen from Wasdale Head village green, it is hidden behind Lingmell. Only once rounding the shoulder of Lingmell’s south west ridge can it be seen at all and then only really Pikes Crag is in view.
The summit of the Pike is a giant boulder field, shattered rock of the Borrowdale Volcanics varying in size from small stones to large boulders is scattered over the top of the mountain and down around the sides. Cairns mark meandering paths searching for the easiest way through the agglomeration and go off in all directions making it a confusing place especially in poor conditions. Witness the call outs of the Wasdale MRT to those who are ‘lost’, and fall victim to ‘navigation errors’ ending up in the wrong valley. Yet towering crags create a backdrop to rough winding paths, a rugged beauty, so breathtaking in scale and grandeur. Luring walkers and climbers who seek … well all manner of things, for numerous reasons. Or just because it’s there. Why or whatever you are there for treat the mountain well, it was there long before you were, and will out last you many times over.
The walk starts from the Wasdale Head village green where there is currently free parking. This may change in 2014 as the village would like to reclaim its public green space.
- The walk starts at the National Trust owned Wasdale Head car park situated next to the National Trust’s Wasdale Head campsite at grid reference NY 182 074. Head up the valley road past Wast Water then at the top end of Wast Water cross the road bridge over the Lingmell Beck towards the campsite.
- From the car park head south east and cross the bridge over the Lingmell Gill then turn left on the other side and towards the climbing club hut at Brackenclose.
- A hundred and fifty metres past the climbing club hut cross turn left and cross the bridge over the Lingmell Gill. On the other side turn right and ascend the steep path that follows the northern side of Lingmell Gill for around a kilometre.
- After a kilometre the path crosses the now much smaller Lingmell Gill and heads over Brown Tongue and into Hollow Stones. After half a kilometre the path splits. Three Peakers wanting the fastest route will head east then north east up to Lingmell Col and up the obvious ascent path to Scafell Pike.
- However, for a far more exciting ascent take the path to the right and head south east towards the scree path to Mickledore Col.
- As you approach the steep scree path take a look up to the right. You will see the impressive Lord’s Rake where a recently fallen pillar has perched precariously for the last few years causing the once often used route to be out of bounds for safety reasons.
- Once at the foot of the path to Mickledore the terrain gets tricky with loose screes and the path is often requires you to get your hands dirty, but it is great fun! You will soon end up on the Mickledore col between Scafell Pike and Scafell. The views both into the valleys and up to the crags are amazing.
- From the col head left in a north east direction ascending Scafell Pike. You will pass a mountain rescue stretcher box after which the path makes its way over small boulders to reach the summit of Scafell Pike.
- The summit is rocky and has a large circular stone cairn with steps to its flat top and nearby a stone Ordnance Survey trig point pillar. The views from Scafell Pike summit are incredible with almost every major Lakeland Fells within view. On a clear day the Isle of Man will be visible, lying in the Irish Sea to the west.
- To descend from the summit, head north west away from the cairn along the main path which after four hundred metres heads north and down to Lingmell Col.
- At Lingmell Col do not follow the main paths and instead head north to the lowest point of the col and then ascend a short distance on the other side to reach the summit of Lingmell where there is an impressive tall circular stone cairn and an even more impressive view across to Great Gable.
- Head west from Lingmell summit on a fairly obvious path. The path swings round a rocky area then continues along a descent of the wide grassy ridge. The views across the valley towards the mighty Pillar are great and you get a great bird’s eye view of the Wasdale Head Inn.
- After ascending for another kilometre you will reach a wall crossing the ridge. Here, turn right, and head along a path that descends in a north to north west direction down to a bridge over Lingmell Beck.
- Cross the Lingmell Beck bridge and head along the path until it reaches the road. Turn right and continue along the road for a short distance to reach the fantastic walkers bar in the Wasdale Head Inn for the previously mentioned food and ales.
- To get back to the Wasdale Head car park just head south along the road back down the valley until you reach the road bridge that crosses the Lingmell Beck to the National Trust campsite and car park. You can’t ask for a better drive home along Wast Water, especially in summer when The Screes have a setting summer sun shining on them.