Climbing Scafell Pike: 5 Routes to Reach the Highest Mountain in England

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Lake District National Park is full of beautiful mountains to hike and is a fantastic destination for hill walkers, but none stand out, like climbing Scafell Pike, which offers fantastic views over the landscape.

It’s the tallest mountain in England, standing at 978 meters above sea level, and is one of the mountains you climb in the Three Peaks Challenge. 

The Scafell Pike hike provides walkers and hikers with beautiful scenery, challenging hikes, and the pride of reaching the tallest peak in England.

So, if this mountain peak is on your bucket list, read on so you know everything there is to know about how to climb Scafell Pike:

climbing to scafell pike

Everything You Need To Know About Climbing Scafell Pike

While you already know that Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and one of the three peaks included in the Three Peaks Challenge, you may not know that:

  • Scafell Pike was donated to the National Trust in 1919 in honor of all the men of the Lake District that tragically lost their lives in the First World War.
  • It’s also home to Broad Crag Tarn, the highest-standing water in England, resting at 820 meters.
  • Not only is Scaffel Pike home to the highest body of water in England, but it also features Wastwater Lake, the deepest lake in England. The lake itself is 258 feet deep and over half a mile wide.

That’s a pretty impressive mountain peak!

5 Ways You Can Climb Scafell Pike

When looking at routes, you’ll find there are five routes you can take to hike Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

1. Scafell Pike From Wasdale or Wasdale Head

2. Scafell Pike From Seathwaite, Borrowdale

3. Scafell Pike From Langdale

4. Scafell Pike From Hardknott

5. Scafell Pike Corridor Route From Wasdale

And in this section, you’ll learn more about each trail and what it entails.

I’ve hiked in the UK for 20 years, have experience in teaching outdoor education and have and hiked up to Scafell Pike numerous times on different routes so you’re in good hands. I’ll share the pros and cons of each of the routes, point out tricky or technical sections if there are any, and share the highlights of each hike. Let’s get started!

Let’s take a quick look:

*Distance and accent noted is one-way

#1 Scafell Pike Hike From Wasdale or Wasdale Head

  • Trailhead: Wasdale National Trust Car Park
  • Trail Length: 4.2 km*
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 900 m*
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
Scafell Pike Hike from Wasdale Head

This is the shortest route to Scafell Pike and the fastest one starting at Wasdale. It’s also one of the most popular routes and is usually used by people taking on the Three Peaks Challenge.

The starting point of the route is the Wasdale National Trust Car Park. One of the best things about starting your hike from here is there’s a campsite for you to stay at with hot food, drinks, and toilets.

This route starts as a steep hike but, fortunately, offers a few resting places. While this route is very touristy, the trail does begin to fade as you reach the halfway point.

And the hike doesn’t get any easier as you progress past the halfway point. The final push of the walk is on rough rocks and stony terrain, making it pretty challenging to reach Scafell Pike Mountain.

#2 Climbing Scafell Pike From Seathwaite, Borrowdale (Scafell Pike Corridor Route)

  • Trailhead: Seathwaite Farm
  • Trail Length: 15 km
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 m
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
Scafell Pike From Seathwaite, Borrowdale

The walk from Seathwaite is also known as the Scafell Pike Corridor Route. It’s one of the most impressive routes to reach Scafell Pike.

Trekking the Corridor Route can also be done via Wasdale, but that will be covered later.

Out of the two starting points, Seathwaite has the most accessible location to get, and it’s very close to Keswick, so you’ll have plenty of places to stay.

To make things better:

You also have access to free parking and a better-quality trail, which make your day more manageable.

As for the hike itself, the gradients aren’t too challenging; the only tricky part is the distance you cover in a day, 30km in total. But if you’re a fit hiker, you’ll do just fine. 

#3 Scafell Pike Hike From Langdale

  • Trailhead: GreatLangdale
  • Trail Length: 9 km*
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,130 m
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
Scafell Pike Hike From Langdale

If you’re a real adventurer, why not test your skills on one of the longer, more challenging climbs to Scafell Pike? Most people like to start their journey from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. It is a great place to stay the night and gives you direct access to the trail.

This route will take you past some of the most famous valleys in the Lake District National Park, offering non-stop scenic views, which is why it’s considered one of the most popular routes for climbing Scafell Pike. 

If you’re not staying at the hotel, there’s parking at the National Trust car park at Stickle Ghyll or the Langdale car park.

#4 Climbing Scafell Pike From Hardknott

  • Trailhead: Eskdale
  • Trail Length: 17 km
  • Time: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 m
  • Trail Type: Circular Route
Climbing Scafell Pike From Hardknott

It’s a lesser-known trail on Scafell Pike, making it an excellent option for people who like to stay away from busier routes.

One of the best things about this route is there are plenty of places you can get on and off the trail if you’re tired or if there was a real emergency. 

Most people like to start near Boot in Eskdale, but you can also start the trail at the Woolpack Inn or Wasdale.

#5 Scafell Pike Corridor Route From Wasdale

  • Trailhead: Wasdale
  • Trail Length: 7.8 km*
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 970 m
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
Scafell Pike Corridor Route From Wasdale
Lingmell Fell above Piers Gill

This is the other version of the Scafell Pike Corridor Route, which starts from Wasdale head instead of Seathwaite. It’s not as popular a route as the other version but is every bit as fun and challenging.

There are plenty of campsites in the area with excellent facilities, so you’ll have no problems finding somewhere nearby.

Starting from Wasdale makes the hike longer, more technical and more challenging route,  technical, so it’s best for experienced and fit hikers. 

#6 Climbing Scafell Pike with a Mountain Leader

If you’re feeling a bit daunted, sign up for this tour guided by two mountain leaders. You’ll hike a distance of  4.2km each way, spending around 6 hours hiking.  Your tour includes transportation to and from Manchester, so you can just focus on enjoying your walk.

If you’re new to hiking or worried about climbing up the rock formations, this tour is an excellent choice.

Plus, you’ll meet like-minded hillwalkers and have plenty of time to get to know them on the way there and back from Manchester. 

Wasdale Head Inn and Hotels

Where To Stay If You Want To Walk Scafell Pike

Many people who plan on hiking Scafell Pike usually stay for a few days in the area. And luckily for you, there are plenty of places in the local area where you can find hotels.

But, for me, the best places are:

One thing to note about these areas is accommodations and campsites can quickly fill up during the summer, so it’s best to book in advance.

Scafell Pike with snow line

When Is The Best Time To Climb Scafell Pike?

When planning a hike up England’s tallest mountain, you need to know the Scafell Pike weather conditions you might run into.

So be sure to check the mountain forecast before you go. You can do that from the Met Office site here.  It’s also important to be aware that the summit temperature will likely be much colder than the valley temperatures. 

So, here’s a quick guide to what to expect weather-wise when summiting Scafell Pike at different times of the year:

  • May to late June: These tend to be the warmest temperatures and have a lower chance of rain. That said, it’s also the busiest time on the mountain.
  • June to October: The weather is a little cooler and slightly less crowded, making it the perfect time to go, in my opinion.
  • October to May: Don’t be surprised if you find snow or frozen water on the mountain during these months. In January, you can expect full-on winter conditions with snow. There may also be a severe windchill.

    If you do walk Scafell Pike in winter, ensure you have full winter gear, including an emergency thermal blanket and microspikes to keep you from slipping. I only recommend going at this time if you’re an experienced hiker. 

Also, be sure to wear quality mountain boots and bring lots of water and a filling hiking lunch and snacks

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

Climbing Scafell Pike is a tremendous challenge to take on. Your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views over the Lake District National Park.

One of the best things about the hike is that you have a choice of five excellent routes up the mountain, each providing unique experiences and views depending on whether you’re looking for the shortest route or the most scenic. 

Hopefully, this article has helped introduce you to the routes you can take to decide which one is best for you to reach Scafell Pike. Share it with someone you’d like to hike it with.

And for a real challenge, make it a multi-day adventure and do some of these other great walks as well while you’re in the Lake District.

You may also be interested in these walks in the UK:

Climbing Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England

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