Scafell Pike: Peak of England
Delicate, yellow light bequeathes a small valley in dancing yellow light.

The climb to the peak of England, Scafell Pike, starts at a great lake, Wast Water. A road winds around the perimeter, which is checkered by wandering sheep and wayward campervans. As you climb, the enormity of the lake becomes increasingly apparent. Mountains rise up around on all sides forming a bowl-like crater. It's clear you are entering the territory of the highest fells in the Lake District.

Halfway up one of the crater’s inner edges were a handful of brave rock climbers. We stared on in disbelief as they tackled the sheer rock face unfazed. Their laughter echoed down from above as if Scafell Pike itself was tickled by their ascent, like ants running over your arm.

Parting cloud illuminates a high mountain tarn and the surrounding hillside.

Soon the trail forks. Choosing the right-hand scramble over the left-hand ramble, we continued on and up whilst slip-sliding on the scree underfoot. At a bottleneck in the route, we were met by a group of burly cigar-wielding men who seemed giddy from the success of their summit. As we burst through the smoggy debris left in their wake, spectacular birds-eye views open up. The lake was now a puddle. The surrounding mountains reduced to lumpy hills: like the earth’s scarred acne. Mystical highlights and lowlights, caused by cloud overhead, played on the mountains like reflections in a swimming pool.

Reaching the summit of Scafell Pike revealed more of the Lake District’s beauty and, taking a detour to the right on the descent, took us past a gargantuan ravine, Piers Gill. It looked as if an earthquake had once violently ripped apart the rock from the inside-out. It was an awing spectacle.

Hollie peers over the edge at the cavernous crack of Piers gill.

We reached the lakeside far below as night fell, casting a serene rosy tint over the water. We sat and watched a heron perching proudly on the shoreline for a while. What I'd give to be able to fly over those fells...

        Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@_scott_norris) // summer 2014

Map and Directions

scafell-pike elevation chart

Directions



  1. From Wasdale campsite head SE and cross the bridge over Lingmell Gill. Turn left on the other side.
  2. 150m past the hut turn left and cross another bridge. On the other side turn right and ascend the steep path that follows the northern side of the stream.
  3. After 1km cross the diminished Lingmell Gill. At the fork, take the path to the right and head SE towards the scree.
  4. Scramble up to the col between Scafell Pike and Sca Fell.
  5. From the col head left, (NE) ascending to the summit of Scafell Pike.
  6. From the summit cairn, head NW along the main path, which descends to Lingmell Col.
  7. At the col leave the main paths and head north to the lowest point of the col. From here ascend to reach the top of Lingmell.
  8. Head west from Lingmell around a rocky area and continue downwards on the vast grass slope.
  9. Follow this path back down to the gill and retrace your steps, walking on the opposite side of the stream if you like, to the trail head.