Scafell Pike from Wasdale

Wast Water

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. Despite its short length, this route is rarely used by those doing the Three Peaks Challenge as its geographical location adds several hours driving to the challenge. The route below includes an exciting scrambling section up to the Mickledore col between Scafell Pike and its neighbour Scafell. If necessary, this can be avoided in bad weather, or by those preferring a shorter day. On the descent via Lingmell the views towards Great Gable over Piers Gill are breathtaking. The end of the walk takes a diversion to the excellent Wasdale Head Inn. Here you can sit in front of the wood fire in winter or in the sunny beer garden in summer and eat big portions of tasty food washed down with local ales. Scafell Pike is a serious mountain with changeable weather conditions throughout the year. You should always carry the right gear and know how to use it, particularly your map and compass. Those taking part in the national Three Peaks Challenge should research and follow the codes of practice that set out guidelines to ensure that the potential risks of tackling this aspect of the Three Peaks Challenge are minimised.

Route Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. However, for a far more exciting ascent take the path to the right and head south east towards the scree path to Mickledore Col.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

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.