The Easiest Way Up Scafell Pike (and Down Again!)
As one of the “National Three Peaks” Scafell Peak offers climbers an opportunity at standing atop the third highest point in the United Kingdom. At 978 meters above sea level, those who travel to England and attempt this difficult hike will be able to see phenomenal views of the landscape below (and claim bragging rights that they’ve stood above everyone in England!).
There are many routes to the summit, so it’s really dependent on which route you take to determine how long it takes to climb Scafell Pike. The fastest route to summit Scafell Pike is the Wasdale route. Starting from Wasdale Campsite, climbers will ascend 932 meters over about 4.2 kilometers to reach the top. Since this is an out and back hike, climbers will descend the same way they came up. Plan on hiking for about 3-4 hours if you take the Wasdale route to the top.
Planning your hike of Scafell Pike is important to ensuring that you have a successful ascent and descent of the peak. To ensure that you make the summit in your budgeted amount of time of 3-4 hours, we highly recommend that:
- You check the weather prior to going.
- Bring the right gear for the trip.
- You are relatively fit to climb to the top.
Consider the Weather
Hiking in the mountains presents special challenges, as the weather can often turn for the worse without very much notice. Orographic lift, which is the effect that the mountain plays on the movement of air and moisture, creates weather patterns that can cause a blue bird day to give way to a torrential downpour with lightning in a matter of hours.
That’s why it’s always important to keep an eye on the weather report before you hike Scafell Peak. Be sure to pick a day that you experience clear skies and warm temperatures. Check the weather report at least 1 week in advance of when you plan on hiking as well as the night before.
In terms of the best time of year to hike Scafell Pike, May through October offer the best weather for hiking as there are warm temperatures and less chances of clouds and rain. Depending on the amount of snow that falls atop Scafell Pike, early May might be pretty cold and snowy yet, so be sure to carry the appropriate clothing and gear to hike safely.
Proper Gear to Bring
Since Scafell Pike is a difficult climb, you need to bring along the right stuff to keep you comfortable and safe along your climb. You’ll experience steep grades and tons of rocks along the 4.2 km to the top, so a good pair of hiking boots with plenty of ankle support is important to wear. Make sure to also wear a good pair of hiking socks as well, and even consider bringing an extra pair along in case your feet get wet while hiking to the summit. Wet socks can often lead to blisters, which can be incredibly uncomfortable to hike with.
A first aid kit with plenty of mole skin will help take care of any blisters you develop on your hike. Make sure your first aid kit is also stocked with some anti-bacterial ointment as well as some band aids. That way you’ll be fully prepared to fix up any minor cuts or scrapes you or your partners get while scrambling to the summit.
Make sure that you bring layers to wear as you hike as well. As mentioned earlier, the weather atop Scafell Pike can be unpredictable, so having a decent waterproof outer shell jacket is a must. You’ll also want to bring a warm layer to put on in case you get cold at the top of the climb. The temperatures at the top of Scafell Pike can be 10° lower than they are at the trail head, so don’t judge how many layers you should carry based on how you feel at the trailhead.
Be sure that you also download a GPS app like AllTrails and download the route before you get to the trailhead. You’ll be glad that you did as you get near the top of the trail and the dirt is replaced by rock, making it sometimes difficult to determine where you are!
And always be sure to bring plenty of water and plenty of snacks. Remember that this is a very difficult hike and you’ll want to stay hydrated and energized throughout to successfully make it to the top!
Scafell Pike Fitness
In addition to packing along the right gear, you need to be sure that your body is in the proper shape to summit Scafell Pike successfully. One of the best ways to start your fitness journey towards getting Scafell Pike ready is by walking. If you’re relatively sedentary right now, start out by setting a timer for 30 minutes and walking the entire time. Don’t keep track of distance. Don’t worry about how fast you go. Just walk for 30 minutes each day.
After about 3 weeks of consistent walking, start adding on more time. Don’t add more than 3 minutes per walk per week. By adding on 10% to each walk each week, you’ll be able to gain more endurance in a sustainable way that won’t lead to burn out. Consistency is king here!
Once you’ve gotten a good base level of aerobic cardio endurance, add in some muscle building exercises to strengthen your legs, core, and back. You’ll need all three of these muscle groups to make it to the top over all of those rocks! Good exercises to promote muscle growth in those areas include:
- Air Squats
- Superman back extensions
A good set and rep scheme to start out is 3 sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise. As with walking, try to do these exercises every day and only increase your reps by 10% per week. Do that and you’ll be more than ready to hike Scafell Pike!
Hiking the tallest point in England is a great goal to have. If you go prepared by checking on the weather, bringing the right gear, and properly training your body, you’ll be sure to make it to the top, no problem! Let us know how your trip goes by dropping a comment below when you’re done!