How to Hike the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route
Hiking Trail Name: Scafell Pike Wasdale Route
Distance: 5.8 miles (Out and Back)
Total Climb: 892m (2,927 ft)
Time: 4-5 hours
What is the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route?
Scarfell Pike is the highest mountain in England. Situated in the Lake District National Park, this peak is one of the most beloved mountains in the British Isles. The Scafell Pike Wasdale Route is a challenging but fast trail to the summit.
It is one of the most direct paths up Scarfell Pike and is favored by beginner hikers. The trail, although considered short by mountaineering standards, will still take the best part of the day to ascend.
The Wasdale Route is a steep walking trail that offers commanding views over the surrounding lakes. Upon reaching the summit, you will be 978 meters above sea level. At this moment, you will have successfully climbed the third highest peak in the UK.
Scarfell Pike is of historic importance to the British public. It was gifted to the National Trust after WWI and acts as a memorial to those who gave their lives for England. It was a poignant gesture aimed at highlighting the beauty of this country and the freedom one can feel whilst walking in its hills.
How to Reach the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route?
Wasdale trailhead is a tiny cluster of houses in the valley basin beneath Scarfell Pike and Great Gable. It can be reached along the country roads that run alongside Wast Water – England’s deepest lake (258 feet deep). This area is isolated and rural with a lack of public transport options.
The closest train station is at Seascale along the west coast. Most hikers drive along the A595 or A591 roads that run perpendicular to Scarfell Pike. Anyone arriving by car should expect a good deal of driving along narrow B-roads to access the Lake District.
Beneath the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route, there are two car parks: the Wasdale Head Car Park and the Wasdale Car Park. Parking Is £6-7 for the day or free for National Trust members. There are toilets and information boards providing details on the hike.
If the car parks are full, there are no alternatives. As is often the case with mountain car parks, arrive early to ensure you bag a space!
How to Navigate on the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route?
The Wasdale Route begins from the Wasdale Car Park – a beautiful place given the surrounding mountains. Initially, the trail follows a public footpath along the valley floor, crossing over Lingmell Beck.
You may see a wooden signpost with different labels near the trailhead. Follow the route pointing towards “Eskdale and Miterdale (Footpath to Scafell).” From here the stone steps are well-defined, but any additional trail markers are scant and personal navigation will be required.
The path continues up the edge of the valley before curling around and heading upstream alongside Lingmell Gill. The trail gradually steepens following the natural inclination of the mountain.
From here, the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route continues to decline in clarity. The quality of the trail can vary in condition and hikers often have to follow rock cairns or make off-trail decisions to reach the summit.
The trail becomes rockier at this altitude and occasionally branches off, snaking upwards rapidly. Eventually, you will cross a rock-strewn plateau. This area is the official summit of Scarfell Pike, marked by a trig point and a stone cairn. Take a moment to stop and enjoy the spectacular views before retracing your steps back down Lingmell Col towards Wasdale Head.
The Scafell Pike Wasdale Route is thought to be the most accessible route up the mountain and the one preferred by hillwalking newbies. However, it is still a difficult hiking route that can be made much worse by bad weather.
The National Trust advise hikers to check the weather forecast regularly and to always carry a map and compass with them. On a clear day, navigation shouldn’t be a problem. But in bad weather, it’s surprisingly easy to get lost.
Recommended Kit List
The Scafell Pike Wasdale Route is more than a hill walk. In the Lake District, the high peaks fall into a mountaineering category. As such, hikers should prepare for more extreme conditions. Wind, rain, and snow are all common features in the Lake District.
It’s advisable to carry waterproofs and extra warm layers when hiking up Scafell Pike. The weather conditions can change rapidly on this mountain. Hiking poles can be used to provide additional support when crossing the boulder fields.
Food & Drink
There are no breakfast cafés or shops in Wasdale Head. Sometimes there is a trailer in the Wasdale Car Park that sells breakfast sandwiches and hot drinks, but this isn’t guaranteed.
The closest establishment offering pre-hike food is The Sawmill Cafe & Farm Shop at Nether Wasdale. The Lake District has strict planning restrictions which means shops are limited.
Try to pack all your food and drinks before you leave home. Bring plenty of water and hiking snacks for the trail. After completing the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route, you can head over to the Wasdale Head Inn for a celebratory pint.
The Wasdale Head Inn is a popular pub that has been frequented by hillwalkers for decades. The onsite hotel has a long history stretching back almost 200 years! The Inn has an old-timey interior and serves gastro-pub food along with a selection of ales. The views of the surrounding peaks from the pub garden are sensational.
Wasdale Route Bonus Tips
High winds are common on the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route. The trail is exposed, and walkers are vulnerable to the elements. Falling injuries are common on Scarfell Pike and great care should be taken during bad weather. Hiking in pairs, wearing appropriate footwear, and carrying a medical kit can mitigate some of these dangers.
For those requiring a map, the Scafell Pike Wasdale Route is covered by Ordnance Survey map OL6 – Lake District South West. A waterproof edition is recommended!