Day hike to the Summit of Scarfell, England's highest peak in the heart of the Lake district


Today's challenge was to walk up England's highest mountain Scafell Pike at 978 meters or 3209 feet. This is a fantastic day walk with an ascent of approximately 1000m (3,300 feet), over 8 miles, taking about 6 to 7 hours. From the top are stupendous views of most of the mountains in the Lake District.

There are various routes up Scafell Pike - from Rosthwaite which we have completed before and from Eskdale. But we decided to walk the most iconic route from Wasdale, via Mickledore, descending via Esk Hause and Sty Head. Wastwater is an absolutely stunning valley. At the head of it is Great Gable, at the foot of which is the famous Wasdale Head Hotel and campsite. The valley contains the deepest lake in England, at 79 meters, (243feet). We parked in the large National Trust car park (clearly signed) at the top of the lake, £7.00 to park, with toilets, a small cafe and information board with the weather forecast. Leaving the car park at 10.30am we followed the very clear path which has been rerouted along the left bank of Lingmell Gill, in order to avoid further erosion. The path follows the stream, eventually crossing over it; take care if there has been heavy rain. After about an hour, the path splits in an obvious fashion. The left hand turn goes up Hollow Stones, and as I understand follows a steady path to the top, which the majority of people took. We took the right hand turn towards Mickledore the col between Scafell and Scafell Pike. The path becomes much steeper, with scree which was quite difficult with a small stream running down it. At times we were scrambling over rocks, occasionally using our hands. After about 2 hours of walking from the car park, we reached the ridge with a cairn on. We turned left following the path for another 30 minutes over many boulders, until the summit was reached. (1pm)

There is a new viewing platform that was very nice, but disappointingly there wasn't a signage board with the names of all surrounding mountains, not even a trig point. I thought something more could be made of the highest mountain in England. I did wonder if we were at the top of the correct one!! We sat out of the wind by a sheep shelter and ate lunch with about 20 other people who were there. After the summit, the walk continues in an easterly direction, going steeply down a rather tricky path, then up again past the summit of Broad Crag. We then continued downhill, reaching the crossroads of Esk Hause, about one hour and 20 minutes after leaving the top of Scafell Pike. We turned left passing Sprinkling Tarn heading down. After another hour we arrived at Sty Head, here the path splits uphill past the stretcher box to Great Gable, down to Borrowdale or the path we took towards Wasdale.

This is a tricky path going over many loose stones. An hour later we were at the Wasdale Inn, (5pm) where accommodation and food are available. We had a hot drink, then walked over the fields to St Olafs church. This is the smallest church in England, with an interesting graveyard, well worth a visit. The path then continues for another 30 minutes past the campsite back to the car.

Comments There are many alternative paths on this walk, we could have gone up Mickledore and back down Hollow Stones to shorten the walk. If the weather was bad the left turn at Esk Hause, would be very hard to find, as there are no signs.

We used Collins Lake District walking book, by John Gillham and Ronald Turnbull, and Ordnance Survey OL6 English Lakes - South-Western Area. As always we advise wearing walking boots, taking food, water, wet weather clothes, hats, sun hats, map, compass and first aid kit etc.

As we were continuing our trip in the Lakes, we stayed at the Kellbank Hotel in Gosforth, about ten miles away by car from Wastwater. We had a lovely stay and most delicious dinner and breakfast. Great value and very friendly staff; to be recommended, and great value for money.

There are many beautiful walks from Wasdale, including Great Gable, Illgil Head, Wastwater screes, and the Mosedale Horseshoe.

We have not stayed here, but this campsite was given 5 stars by friends who stayed.

We really enjoyed this walk, the weather was great, we met some lovely people, and the views were tremendous, surrounded by beautiful countryside.