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Scafell Pike via Tourist Path from near Wasdale Head

Scafell Pike via Tourist Path from near Wasdale Head


National Trust car park near the head of Wastwater. Drive along the road by the lake towards Wasdale Head. Once past the end of the lake, look for a rough road going right and over a girder bridge. Follow this for a short distance to the National Trust car park. Do not drive past the car park as the access is for private buildings and Mountain Rescue only. Parking is free for National Trust members.


8 km    About 4 hours


Scafell Pike, 978 m, NY 216 072.   OL6 South Western Lakes


This is a short day which takes in England's highest summit by its easiest to follow route but this does mean retracing steps in descent. After heavy rainfall, the crossing of Lingmell Gill will be awkward and one may have to divert upstream to avoid wet feet; there is no bridge. In winter conditions, ice axe, crampons and winter experience will be needed for the upper part of this walk. The views are as good as they get so try to save this walk for a clear day. Scafell Pike is the middle peak of the National 3 Peaks Challenge where the aim is to climb and descend Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours including the driving time between peaks. Unfortunately, many ascend Scafell Pike very early in the day and may ascend part of the way before dawn. This has led to some anti-social behaviour towards local residents, including the blocking of access, and, worse still, to contamination of drinking water supplies by using the hill as a toilet and leaving light sticks on the path. Please be sympathetic to local people and to the hill where poor walking practices are quickly eroding parts of the path.


(1) From the car park, continue up the track to reach a bridge. Do not cross it but continue up with the stream on your right. Further on, pass a footbridge over the stream. Just beyond here, go through a gate. The main “tourist” path continues with the stream on the right. Follow this going through another gate a bit further on where the path from Wasdale Head joins from the left. Continue up until the crossing of Lingmell Gill is reached. Normally, this is easy, but after rain it may be necessary to divert upstream to avoid wet feet. Once across, continue up the obvious path for about 75 m to where the path splits into two equal looking paths. Take the left fork which has visible cairns. A little further, the path splits again. The more obvious path goes straight on but this is heading for Mickledore – the col between Scafell Pike and Scafell. The tourist path forks left over some rough stony ground where the path is not always obvious but there are some good sized cairns as a guide. Many people go wrong here and end up getting lost. Follow the cairns! Continue up and, in about 1 km, join the Corridor Route coming from Sty Head and Borrowdale. This is just to the E of Lingmell col and is obvious in good weather. Note this point well for the descent as many people end up at Sty Head or in Borrowdale! Continue up and soon reach a long, gently sloping slab which is the last landmark before the summit. The path is stony and not always that obvious but the cairns point the way. Reach a very large cairn at the start of a level section. From here to the summit, but especially in descent, this last section can be confusing in mist. If you cannot see the next standard sized cairn from the very large cairn then continue on the reasonably distinctive path between the two cairns until you can see both by looking forwards and backwards from the same position. Take a compass bearing for the descent route from the standard sized cairn to the very large on as you will need it in thick mist. Continue upwards, on a path which is mainly trodden down rock and not that obvious but there are still cairns to follow and these lead to the trig point and summit cairn/plinth which is the top of Scafell Pike, 978 m. Note that the path weaves about somewhat for the final few hundred metres so note carefully the way down.

(2) Retrace down the “tourist” path being especially careful in thick weather. The first challenge is to locate the very large cairn then the slabby section. After the junction with the Corridor Route (which goes NE), the path goes SW then W. If you find yourself crossing a stream going N or NE then you are probably on the Corridor Route. Remember that Lingmell Gill has to be crossed again in descent.


(a) This walk took place on 10th October, 2014, and many times previously.


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