Every year, thousands attempt to walk up Scafell Pike – the highest mountain in England. Most ascend from Wasdale but there are numerous ways up. Here are the 5 best Scafell Pike Routes and the pros and cons of each. 

By: Mark Barnes | Published: 30 Jun 2023 | Last update: 23 Dec 2023

Scafell Pike, standing at 978 meters (3,209 feet) above sea level, is England’s highest mountain. Situated in the Lake District National Park, it forms part of the Cumbrian Mountains.

Every year, more than 250,000 visitors are attracted to its rugged terrain, eager to take on the challenging hike to the summit.

The reward is twofold: awe-inspiring panoramic views of massive boulders, craggy flanks, and immense ravines, and the satisfaction of reaching the country’s highest point.

There are several popular walking routes leading to the summit of Scafell Pike, each offering a distinct experience. The shortest route, spanning less than 3 miles, can be completed in just 2-3 hours, while the longest requires an entire day of hiking.

In this guide, we will cover the five most popular routes, each with an alternative descent, creating a fantastic circular walk. One of these descents is particularly outstanding and happens to be one of our favorite walks in the Lake District.

OVERVIEW – WALKING ROUTES UP SCAFELL PIKE

This article covers the five most common walking routes up Scafell Pike and highlights the pros and cons of each.

None are easy, with each involving at least 900 metres of ascent in rugged mountain terrain. Yet all offer a different experience and the satisfaction of ascending the highest mountain in England.

The times on the below table are indicative only as everyone walks at their own speed, but they give you an idea of the relative duration for each route.

StartRouteDistance (1-way)AscentTime (1-way)
1 – WasdaleBrown Tongue2.7m (4.3km)910m2h 30m
2 – SeathwaiteCorridor Route4.7m (7.6km)980m3h 30m
3 – EskdaleLittle Narrowcove5.4m (8.7km)970m4h 15m
4 – Great LangdaleRossett Gill5.6m (9.0km)1100m4h30m
5 – Wasdale HeadLingmell Beck4.5m (7.25km)950m3h 30m
WALKING ROUTES UP SCAFELL PIKE
walking routes for scafell pike

MAP – WALKING ROUTES UP SCAFELL PIKE

The lines on the map below show the different walking routes up Scafell Pike, including an alternative descent to create a great circular hike.

  • Blue – Scafell Pike from Wasdale via Brown Tongue
  • Red – Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via Corridor Route
  • Brown – Scafell Pike from Eskdale via Little Narrowcove
  • Purple – Scafell Pike from Langdale via Rossett Gill
  • Orange – Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head via Lingmell Beck

Please note that the routes marked are indicative especially when the trails head over rocky summits and ledges.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


1 – SCAFELL PIKE FROM WASDALE VIA BROWN TONGUE

The quickest and easiest route up Scafell Pike

This is the fastest and easiest Scafell Pike route, but not the most interesting. It begins in Wasdale Head, a remote and stunning valley on the northern shores of Wastwater which has one of the best views in the Lake District.

The path leaves from the car park by the Wasdale National Trust Car Park and heads along Lingmell Gill before bearing left and rising over Brown Tongue to reach Lingmell Col.

The entire route is a continuous slog up a gravel path. From Lingmell Col the last half mile becomes increasingly strewn with rocks making it important to place your foot carefully, but there is nothing technical or too difficult.

WASDALE | ROUTE DETAILS

Start – Wasdale | Route – Brown Tongue | Distance – 2.7 miles | Ascent Time – 2 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 910 metres

Ease of Navigation — As the most popular route up Scafell Pike, the path is well cairned and easy to see, even in mist. There’s little rest along the route and the view back towards Wastwater and Wasdale Head rarely changes. But you’ll be at the top in around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

scafell pike routes lingmell ghyll leading to brown tongue
LINGMELL GILL LEADING TO BROWN TONGUE

ALTERNATIVE CIRCULAR RETURN 

Route – via Mickledore | Total Time – 4 hours, 30 minutes

It is easy enough to return the way you came, but for a more adventurous and interesting descent, head down the steep slope of Mickledore.

The view from the ridge before you descend is one of the grandest vistas of boulders and crags in the Lake District.

The descent through the scree field is either a fun, fast way down as you slide through the rocks, or a slightly terrifying half hour.

Where to have a pint? — End the day at the Wasdale Head Inn for a well-deserved pint.

WASDALE | PROS

  • Views over Wastwater on the way to Wasdale
  • Easiest and quickest ascent
  • Navigation is pretty simple
  • No real scrambling or use of hands

WASDALE | CONS

  • Wasdale is remote and takes time to get to
  • The path is less interesting than the others
  • Views don’t change much during ascent
  • This route can get very crowded

2 – SCAFELL PIKE FROM SEATHWAITE VIA CORRIDOR ROUTE

The best and most interesting walking route up Scafell Pike

In our opinion, this is the best route up Scafell Pike and one of our favourite walks in the Lake District. It combines a great mix of wonderful ever-changing views and an interesting – but not too challenging – path.

It begins in Seathwaite near the valley of Borrowdale and ambles alongside the River Derwent to charming Stockley Bridge. From there it climbs over a grassy shoulder to Sty Head home to a pretty tarn set amongst an amphitheater of rocky crags.

Next comes the official Corridor Route, an excellent trail connecting a series of grassy mountain shelves amongst a rocky landscape of towering bluffs and wrinkled gullies.

You’ll need to use your hands a couple of times to help you navigate the gullies, but the relatively easy scrambling requires no technical skills and is over quickly.

Towards the end of the walk, the Corridor Route meets the trail from Wasdale, and heads over strewn rocks to the summit.

SEATHWAITE | ROUTE DETAILS

Start – Seathwaite | Route – Corridor Route | Distance – 4.7 miles | Ascent Time – 3 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 980 metres

Ease of Navigation — The route is easy to follow, except for small sections of the Corridor Route, where you should be careful as you navigate around the ghylls (ravines). It’s a couple of miles longer than the route from Wasdale but it’s worth every extra step.

You can find a more detailed description of the walk on our Scafell Pike Corridor Route guide.

ALTERNATIVE CIRCULAR RETURN 

Route – via Grains Gill |Total Time – 6 hours, 30 minutes

You can return the way you came, but it’s better to complete a circular route by boulder hopping over Broad Crag to Esk Hause then descending via Grains Gill, a lovely little ravine dotted with waterfalls, to Seathwaite.

On a hot day take the short detour to Sprinkling Tarn. One of the highest tarns in the area, it’s one of the best (but coldest) wild swims in the Lake District.

Where to have a pint? — Congratulate yourself at the Langstrath Country Inn in Stonethwaite a couple of miles drive from Seathwaite.

SEATHWATIE | PROS

  • Extremely varied and interesting path
  • Up close views of mighty crags and deep ravines
  • Wild swimming opportunities in Sty Head Tarn and Sprinkling Tarn
  • Excellent circular route with almost no repetition

SEATHWATIE | CONS

  • Care is required when navigating, especially in misty conditions.

3 – SCAFELL PIKE FROM ESKDALE VIA LITTLE NARROWCOVE

A long but extremely peaceful walking route up Scafell Pike

Eskdale is the most remote valley in the Lake District and getting here, driving over the steep hairpin bends of Hardknott Pass, can be tricky. But the rewards are an escape from the crowds and a rugged untouched landscape surrounded by four of the six highest peaks in the Lakes.

The trail begins near Boot and winds alongside the Esk River, gradually at first, before crossing over Lingcove Bridge and slowly ascending to the Great Moss. This wonderful flat expanse of grass ends at the imposing, sheer, rocky face of Scafell Pike.

It’s so vertical there appears no way up, but a tiny path up Little Narrowcove climbs steeply (1,500 feet in under a mile) and arduously up to Broad Crag Col from where it follows a rock-strewn path to the summit.

At 5.4 miles it is a long walk up Scafell Pike. Although the walk along the River Esk is beautiful, the slog up Little Narrowcove is steep and unrelenting, lasting about an hour.

ESKDALE | ROUTE DETAILS

Start – Eskdale | Route – Little Narrowcove | Distance – 5.4 miles | Ascent Time – 4 hours, 15 minutes | Elevation – 970 metres

Ease of Navigation — Navigation is relatively straightforward on a clear day but finding your way up Little Narrowcove can be awkward in cloud.

After rain, the Great Moss can be boggy and crossing the River Esk can be a little tricky – on some days you may need to take your boots off and wade across.

scafell pike routes great moss eskdale
GREAT MOSS UNDER SCAFELL & MICKLEDORE

ALTERNATIVE CIRCULAR RETURN 

Route – via Cam Spout Crag | Total Time – 8 hours

One of the bonuses of this route is that you can descend back to Eskdale on a completely different path. Head down via the southern side of Mickledore then around Cam Spout Crag and over Heron Crag to where you started.

The entire circuit takes about 8 hours and is a challenging 12 miles of mountain climbing requiring a good level of fitness.

If you enjoy wild swimming do the route in reverse and on the way down take a dip in the pots of the River Esk, some of the most beautiful places to swim in the Lake District.

Where to have a pint? — Drive to the Woolpack Inn in the village of Boot which is an 8-minute drive away from the trailhead.

ESKDALE | PROS

  • Very few people used this route and it’s never crowded
  • Dramatic views up to Scafell Pike from Great Moss
  • Wild swimming in pots of River Esk
  • Excellent circular route with no repetition

ESKDALE | CONS

  • Very long and tiring day in the mountains
  • Steep slog up Little Narrowcove or Mickledore
  • Boggy after rain
  • Takes time to reach remote Eskdale

4 – SCAFELL PIKE FROM GREAT LANGDALE VIA ROSSETT GILL

A great route starting in a stunning centrally located valley

Great Langdale is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Lake District. A patchwork of fields surrounded by grassy flanks and knobbly mountain tops, this U-shaped valley provides some of the best views in the Lake District.

It’s a stunning place to start a walk up Scafell Pike.

The path begins at the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub a traditional watering hole for hardy hikers. The first mile and a half is easy level walking up the Langdale Valley. It then steepens and ascends over 1,000 ft up Rocky Rossett Gill in under a mile.

The next section is over a grass shelf (with two descent and ascents) to Esk Hause, where it joins a very rocky path (requiring a bit of easy scrambling/boulder hopping) up and down over Broad Crag to the summit.

GREAT LANGDALE | ROUTE DETAILS

Start – Langdale | Route – Rossett Gill | Distance – 5.6 miles | Ascent Time – 4 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 1100 metres

Ease of Navigation — This is the hardest way up Scafell Pike as it is both the longest and has the most ascent, but it’s a wonderful route with four very distinct sections. The views change regularly as the path cuts its way between mighty mountains.

The path is well-marked and generally easy to follow. Although care is needed clambering over the large rocks near the summit, which is tucked away for most of the walk, and makes a wonderful surprise as you make the final approach.

scafell pike route from great langdale
GREAT LANGDALE

ALTERNATIVE CIRCULAR RETURN 

Route – Bow Fell | Total Time – 8 hours 45 minutes

Apart from the physical challenge, the only other real downside is that the best route back to Langdale is via the same way you came – taking about 8 hours round trip.

If you want a bigger challenge, return via the summits of Esk Pike and Bow Fell before descending The Bands back to Great Langdale.

This adds almost 300 metres (1,000 ft of ascent) and it’s not to be undertaken lightly. but it’s a great way to bag a couple more Wainwrights’.

Where to have a pint? — Join the harder hikers at The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale for a well-earned pint after the walk.

GREAT LANGDALE | PROS

  • Central starting point which is easy to reach
  • Interesting path with ever-changing views
  • Old hiker’s pub for a pint at the end

GREAT LANDGALE | CONS

  • The longest route with the most ascent
  • No easy circular option
great langdale walking route up scafell pike
LANGDALE VALLEY HEADING UP TO ROSSETT GILL

5 – SCAFELL PIKE FROM WASDALE HEAD VIA LINGMELL BECK

An amended version of the Corridor Route with a quick descent

This route up Scafell Pike is a good mix neither being too long or too uninteresting. It makes use of the excellent Corridor Route on the way up and then descends quickly down Brown Tongue.

Beginning at Wasdale Head, the path heads up Lingmell Beck (not Lingmell Gill) passing under the mighty face of Great Gable as it gradually climbs to Sty Head. Here the trail bends right and follows the attractive Corridor Route as it climbs to the summit.

WASDALE HEAD | ROUTE DETAILS

Start – Wasdale Head | Route – Lingmell Beck | Distance – 4.5 miles | Ascent Time – 3 hours 30 minutes | Elevation – 950 metres

wasdale head scafell pike routes
VIEWS OVER WASTWATER TO GREAT GABLE

ALTERNATIVE CIRCULAR RETURN 

Route – Brown Tongue | Total Time – 5 hours, 30 minutes

The easiest descent comes down via Brown Tongue. It can be tough on the knees but it’s all over pretty quickly and the Wasdale Head Inn brings solace to tired limbs.

Where to have a pint? — End the day at the Wasdale Head Inn for a well-deserved pint.

WASDALE HEAD | PROS

  • Views over Wastwater before the hike
  • Makes use of the lovely Corridor Route
  • A quick descent means the walk is not too long
  • Pint at the Wasdale Head Inn

WASDALE HEAD | CONS

  • The descent is quick but not as interesting as other walks
  • Wasdale is remote and can take time to reach
scafell pike routes peirs ghyll
LINGMELL FELL OVERLOOKING LINGMELL BECK

SCAFELL PIKE SUMMIT

The views from the summit of Scafell Pike are breathtaking.

To the south, the River Esk cuts through the tufty grass of the Great Moss. To the west is the rocky face of Scafell and the green fields of Wasdale Valley.

To the north is the imposing peak of Great Gable and to the east is the triangular summit of Bow Fell and much of the rest of the Lake District.

SAFETY TIP FOR THESE SCAFELL PIKE WALKS

The summit itself is relatively featureless; a mass of grey, rocky boulders with paths heading off in every direction. Even on a clear day, it can be easy to lose your bearings, but on a cloudy day, it can be very disorientating.

Before descending, take time to use your compass and map and make sure you are heading back on the correct path.

We’ve been up there ten to twenty times and on a cloudy day, it’s still very easy to make a mistake.

WHERE TO STAY TO HIKE SCAFELL PIKE

Driving between the different valleys around Scafell Pike takes a long time. Eskdale to Seathwaite can take 1 hour and 40 minutes. Wasdale Head to Great Langdale takes even longer. So, it’s important to stay somewhere near the start of the route up Scafell Pike you want to take.

You can find all our recommendations, split by area, on our where to stay in the Lake District guide.

scafell pike routes
GRAINS GILL DROPPING TO STOCKLEY BRIDGE

THANKS FOR VISITING // WHERE NEXT?



A BIG THANK YOU

We’ve been providing free travel content on Anywhere We Roam since 2017. If you appreciate what we do, here are some ways you can support us.

Thank you!

Paul & Mark

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM

USE OUR RESOURCES PAGE

bmc button