Scafell from Eskdale


Scafell is England's second highest mountain at 964m. It is often mistaken for its famous neighbour Scafell Pike, which at 978m is the highest mountain in England. In fact for many years people believed Scafell to be the higher mountain as when seen from certain directions it does appear to be the higher. Scafell receives very few visitors compared to its popular and crowded neighbour, this makes it the perfect high mountain for those who prefer a quieter walk. This walk starts form the picturesque Eskdale Valley then follows the historic Coffin Route to the remote and enchanting Burnmoor Tarn before a steep ascent to Scafell's summit. The views from this lofty summit are absolutely stunning. The descent is over Slight Side to the wild land of small tarns and crags above Catcove Beck. There are some great pubs in and around the village of Boot in Eskdale after the walk. Navigating on the higher parts of this walk can be difficult in bad weather or low visibility, and Scafell is a serious mountain with changeable weather conditions at any time of the year. You should always be carrying the right gear and know how to use it, particularly your map and compass.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the small village of Boot in the heart of the Eskdale Valley. To reach Boot from the south or west. Leave the M6 at junction 36. Head west along the A590 dual carriageway for four miles. Come off at the junction and turn left at the roundabout for the A590 to Barrow. After twenty miles turn right on to the A5092 to Workington and Whitehaven. After six miles this turns into the A595. After another five miles at the Duddon Bridge traffic lights, turn right on to Smithy Lane signposted to Ulpha and Seathwaite. After three miles you will pass through the small hamlet of Ulpha. After the the village turn left up a steep road signposted to Eskdale and Whitehaven. After six miles and by the King George IV pub, turn right following signs to Boot which is two miles up the road.
  2. To reach Boot from the north or east. Take the A595 road that encircles the eastern side of the Lake District from Carlisle to Barrow via Cockermouth, Workington and Whitehaven. Six miles after Egremont you will see a sign for Gosforth, Eskdale and Wasdale. Here turn left through Gosforth. After six miles and by the King George IV pub, turn left following signs to Boot which is two miles up the road.
  3. Parking can be found in the car park behind the Boot Inn in the heart of the village. To reach the village turn left down the dead end road immediately after the Brook House Inn. You will soon reach the Boot Inn, here turn left behind the inn to enter their car park.
  4. The car park is for patrons only, however they will let walkers park here in exchange for a small donation to the local mountain rescue team. So after park up make sure you go see the bar staff in the friendly Boot Inn to pay your small donation. A great deal!
  5. If the car park at the Boot Inn is full, unfortunately there isn't any other parking in the village. You will need to head back to the main road, turn right and head to the Dalegarth Station car park at the end of the Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway.
  6. From the Boot Inn turn left along the road heading north. The road crosses a 17th century packhorse bridge over Whillan Beck by the Eskdale Mill. The mill is open to the public some days and is well worth a look in, it dates back to the sixteenth century and possibly older.
  7. Once over the bridge the track turns right behind the mill and then left before reaching a gate on the right that is signposted to Burnmoor Tarn via Coffin Route. Head through this gate on to the Coffin Route.
  8. The route is given its spooky name as it was once the chosen route that the folk of the then remote village of Wasdale Head took to the St Catherine's Church in Boot to bury their dead.
  9. The path climbs steadily and passes a wood on the right. After the wood the views open up to the east looking over the Whillan Beck valley towards Little and Great Barrow.
  10. After crossing moorland and passing an old stone building on the left you should reach the remote Burnmoor Tarn. One of the largest tarns in the Lake District, Burnmoor Tarn is extremely remote and it will therefore surprise you to see a large building on its south shore.
  11. Burnmoor Lodge was once the home of a local game keeper, then a shooting lodge and is now as far as I know abandoned and disused. It sits silently on the shores of Burnmoor Tarn at least two miles away from the nearest road, looking like rather eerie.
  12. Pass the Burnmoor Lodge on your left and walk the length of Burnmoor Tarns eastern shoreline eventually reaching Bulatt Bridge as it crosses the tarn outflow that becomes Whillan Beck.
  13. On the other side of the bridge turn right and follow a faint path that heads in a north east direction beside Hardrigg Gill now to the right. The path reaches a small ruined building at the end of the Hard Rigg ridge. When you reach this point do not continue along the path into the valley, instead turn left on to the path that ascends the crest of the ridge.
  14. The path is steep at first but then levels off on top of the ridge. After a while the path joins a steep path that comes up from Wasdale on the left. Continue to ascend this path which now gets very steep and loose in places. This is a hard slog but will bring you right out on the summit of Scafell.
  15. The summit of Scafell has no trig point pillar, just a small cairn of stones. On a clear day the panoramic views are amazing. To the east are the adjoining fells of Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.
  16. from Eskdale and the Coniston Fells to the south to Wasdale and the Western Fells to the west and of course the high Southern Fells adjoined. This huge horseshoe of fells surrounds the beautifully wild Great Moss below. To the south the Coniston Fells. To the north and north east the rest of the Lakeland Fells. Views west are seaward, where on clear days you will see the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.
  17. From the summit of Scafell descend south along the obvious wide ridge of Long Green to Slight Side. The summit of Slight Side makes another great viewpoint. Head south west then south off Slight Side down fairly steep ground.
  18. Continue a descent south over marshy land until the path reaches a bend in the river where it rounds a huge slanted boulder. Cross Catcove Beck here then continue heading south on the path passing Cat Crag on the left, then Dawsonground Crags on the right.
  19. The path continues its descent south until it reaches a stone wall. The path then turns right and descends in a south west direction alongside the stone wall. Eventually the path reaches the main road through the Eskdale Valley by Wha House Farm.
  20. When you reach the road turn right and walk along the road with care. A two and a half kilometre road walk will find you back at the village of Boot. On the way back you will pass some great pubs including the Woolpack Inn just after Wha House Farm then two kilometres further on the Brook House Inn. And last but my no means least the Boot Inn at the start of the walk where you will find a friendly welcome with excellent food and drink.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL6 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 89 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland West Map Click to buy Harvey Lake District Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.