Scafell is the little brother to England's highest mountain, the often confused, Scafell Pike
, weighing in an unlucky 13 metres (43 feet) shorter at 964 metres (3163 feet).
Scafell is actually the more often viewed mountain, Scafell Pike being hidden away behind Lingmell and appearing, from most directions, to be the smaller of the two peaks.
Scafell is a complete mountain experience (for England) with towering buttresses, soaring crags, long grassy slopes and rough scree, with its toes in the deepest lake in England (Wast water) and looking out proudly over the lesser hills to the west.
Scafell is most commonly ascended from Wasdale, which in turn is accessed from the west of the Lake District, making it a significantly more difficult area to get too and therefore visited less often by the tourists that throng the Lakes honeypot areas to the east.
Scafell Massif from Buckbarrow.
Scafell Massif from Bowfell.
Scafell Crags from the Brown Tongue path.
There is no formal red tape, although all visitors should follow the Countryside Code
. Thought should be given to the serious nature of all UK mountains - they may look small and insignificant amongst the greater challenges elsewhere around the globe but every year a vast number of people underestimate the scale of these mountains and need rescuing or worse...
Wasdale is home to the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team, whose website www.wasdale-mountain-rescue.org.uk
shows the extent of incidents in this area of the Lake District.
Wasdale has two campsites situated at the head of the valley:
Scafell from Wasdale Head campsite.
The National Trust campsite
- has good facilities, a small shop, helpful wardens and an amazing view (0.75 miles from the pub).
The Barn Door campsite
- has very basic facilities and an amazing view (0.0 miles from the pub).
It's also possible to wild camp - Styhead is a popular location, as is Sprinkling Tarn, both to the north-east of Scafell, in the shadow of Great End. Great Moss (south-east of Scafell) is also reputed to be a good spot (although I've never ventured down there... It sounds like it will be boggy!)
External LinksWasdale Web
- an informative website for the local area.
- showing (right to left) Scafell - Scafell Pike - Lingmell.
Scafell Crags Topo.
There are several walking routes to the summit of Scafell:
- Lord's Rake (from Hollow Stones)
- Foxes Tarn (either over the Mickledore col from Hollow Stones or from Great Moss and Eskdale)
- Green How (from the Old Corpse Road)
- Long Green and Slight Side (from Eskdale)
- Hardrigg Gill (from the Old Corpse Road)
- Broad Stand (from Hollow Stones or over the Mickledore col from Eskdale)
...and hundreds of climbing routes (for all seasons) on Scafell Crag
, Black Crag, Cam Spout Crag, Broad Stand and other crags, ranging from D to E8 (English grades) and Winter I to VI.
(from Hollow Stones)
The Wasdale Mountain Rescue team currently advise that the route is "passable with care" although those attempting the ascent of Lord's Rake should be aware of unstable rocks, frequent rock falls and the general deterioration of the route (see here
). However it was the route that Alfred Wainwright choose to direct walkers to the summit whilst enjoying some of the airy exposure usually restricted to climbers.
The route starts relatively easily with the long ascent of Brown Tongue from Brackenclose (Fell and Rock Climbing Club hut) in Wasdale, or the even longer route up to Sty Head and along the Corridor Route under Scafell Pike.
Once the awesome amphitheatre of Hollow Stones has been reached, the challenge is to locate the route. Wainwright gives comprehensive instructions in his famous guidebooks, which I will summarise here.
Follow the slope of scree on the western side against the rocks of Scafell Shamrock to the base of Scafell Crag. On the right a channel opens up, leading up and across the face of the mountain. This is Lord's Rake. For extra clarification a cross carved into the face of the rocks on the left marks the spot where four pioneering climbers fell to their deaths in 1903.
Continue up the Rake, to a point just short of the col, where an poorly defined track leads away steeply to the left. This is the West Wall Traverse, the next step to the summit. The eroded shelf leads back up and across the face to Deep Gill. The route is then reasonably straight-forward to the top of the Gill and out onto the summit plateau.
The summit proper is located 100 metres or so across the top of the mountain away to the south-west.
(accessed either from Great Moss or Mickledore)
The entrance to Foxes Tarn gully is very obvious, there is a small stream emanating from it, even in dry weather (a torrent in particularly wet weather). The gully is reasonably easily followed, being a deep defile up the side of the mountain. However Wasdale Mountain Rescue have issued a warning about rockfall in this gully, although this can be bypassed by scrambling along the rim of the gully to the south.
Follow the gully to the top, where it opens out in to the amphitheatre of Foxes Tarn. The route then follows the obvious path up and out of the amphitheatre on the north side and around the rim, before heading off towards the summit.
(from the Old Corpse Road)
The Old Corpse Road is an ancient trackway between Wasdale Head and the village of Boot in Eskdale along which the coffins of Wasdale's dead were taken for burial in Boot.
The path shown on the Ordnance Survey map leaves the Old Corpse Road before the first gate after crossing over the stream, after Brackenclose, and heads off up the relentless slope over two walls and out onto the open fellside. The relentless slope continues until the scree is reached as you near the top of the mountain. The path joins the Hard Rigg path at this point and with a final slog up through the scree, emerges on the shallow col between the summit and northern highpoint. There is a small stone wall shelter here.
This route, or the Hardrigg Gill route make good descent routes.
Long Green and Slight Side
(from Great Moss and Eskdale)
I've not yet done this route... Any information would be gratefully received!!
(from the Old Corpse Road)
Follow the Old Corpse Road as it climbs out of Wasdale, past ruined cottages, and out onto the fell side. The path continues on a level course towards Burnmoor Tarn. The public footpath shown on the OS maps leaves the Old Corpse Road here and heads east alongside Hardrigg Gill, climbing steadily towards the summit. However, 600 metres back towards Wasdale, as the Old Corpse Road starts to descend towards the tarn, a small path leaves the main route and follows the contours away to the east. Take this path and follow it until it reaches the lip of Hardrigg Gill. The path then splits again, turn left and follow the lip of the gill up towards the summit. (This route has the advantage of being significantly drier in all conditions than the path alongside the gill!)
As the summit is approached the path joins with the route from Green How, winding its way up through the scree to the col and the top...
Broad Stand is almost a route for climbers and not walkers, being one of the earliest recorded Rock Climbs. However for the more experienced walker/scrambler the difficulties are soon passed and with the exhilaration of the climb still beating in your ears(!) the summit is gained.