Day 2 – Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head
I decided I couldn’t do a week in the Lakes without tackling the highest peak in England. I had conquered Scafell previously which happened to be in a very different climate. It was in November and as we climbed around half way it was covered in snow, at points in was knee deep. This was an incredible experience and something I would 100% do again, it was like being on a different planet, as you can see from the pictures below.
However today was a very different task, so much so that the previous outing had given me what I found to be a false knowledge of the task ahead. Having done it previously I just decided to take on the same route without any research as I knew the path.
One thing that you must know about Scafell Pike is that is it one of the most Western Fells in the Lake District and so it is a fair drive from both where I live in Preston (2.5 hours) and also from where I was staying near Windermere (1.5 hours).
I set off around 09:30 after a leisurely morning and before I knew it, was driving down roads that well, could maybe be better described as paths. As the road progressed further, I was driving up incredibly windy roads of up to 25% elevation, I was literally driving through the mountains. This is not a route for the nervous driver. Maximum concentration was required but I have to say due to the fact it was a clear day, it was a beautiful route and I encountered a lot of motorhomes parked up in laybys taking in the breath-taking scenery, oh and lots of roaming sheep too.
Funnily enough I took this route home (incorrectly) when I took the wrong turn on the way home last time and as you can imagine from my description, a cold November night of which it was dark by this point, it was a tad scary and I would not advise taking this route in the dark. However in the day time it was beautiful, yet a challenging drive.
The final part of the route is a beautiful drive along the shores of Wastwater which is the deepest lake in the Lake District and you can see the Western Fells towering over it on the far side of the lake. Again here you see lots of motorhomes and people taking in the scenery. A cracking secluded spot for a picnic
After eventually finding my way to the car park at Wasdale Head (which is free by the way), I was delighted to see both Scafell Pike behind me and the pub, ready for my rewarding pint afterwards, open for business.
I remembered the initial climb was pretty challenging and fairly rough terrain and so it proved to be exactly the same this time around. From the get go you are on the way up, the ground was again uneven and care must be taken for the ankles and knees – I’d make sure for this one if you do it that you have ankle high walking boots for protection.
After 15-20 minutes of climbing I had a fantastic view back down of Wastwater Lake which you can see for around half of the walk. The climb continued to challenge with the terrain rough throughout, albeit the dog made it look incredibly easy as ever. One thing I did like about the ascent here is that there are so many fantastic spots with great views to take a rest, have a drink or even a bite to eat (assuming you are prepared with all this in your rucksack!). As we continued up the mountain you begin to corner around and away from the Lake where your view of this becomes limited.
Around half way up is where I started to become surprised at the difficulty of the climb. Last time round everything was covered in snow and so you couldn’t feel anything but snow on your feet which looking back now, made the climb a hell of a lot easier than what it was today. This climb was the rockiest climb I’ve done. It didn’t require you to be on your hands and knees however the rough terrain and loose rocks made it much more challenging that I recall, as I say due to the fact that everything was covered in snow.
After a couple more steep climbs up the loose rock terrain you begin to corner around the mountain and have views in the opposite direction to before looking out over the other fells in distance, I was lucky enough to have a clear day and so the views were truly incredible.
You can’t actually see the summit until you are a few hundred yards away, this climb consists of lots of ‘false summits’ so if you decide to do this one, don’t get too excited when you think you can see the top!
Along the way I encountered parents with kids as young as 5 years old taking this on as well as a gentleman who had to be close to his eighties at least. Although I’ve described this as a tough climb, I truly believe most people could do this with the right mindset and as we know, with the right mindset you can do anything.
If you say you can’t, you won’t.
After a couple of photos at the top, I began the descent which required a lot of care and attention not to slip on the loose rocks of which there are many. As I descended the view again was beautiful. One of my favourite features on the way up and down was the waterfall crossing you have to make which isn’t too technical but provides a refreshing change to the rough terrain and steep ascent of the rest of the climb.
As always the descent didn’t seem to take as long, I stopped half way to enjoy some well-earned food and take in the views. It was evident that even Nala was thinking carefully about her route down the very rocky mountain and she too seemed to tire a little which was a good thing as she may have pulled me down otherwise!
Eventually I could see the car park in the distance which was a pleasant site but I’d say the pub just past it gave me a little more joy. I didn’t time the walk exactly and I didn’t rush it, but the time was somewhere just over the 4 hour mark I think but I couldn’t be sure – I’ve kind of enjoyed not having a time to be somewhere so forgive me for the lack of accuracy.
A quick change of boots into trainers and an easy stroll to the pub led me to a rewarding pint of blond (again) followed up by a tasty ice-cream to top off an awesome day.
Oh and lastly, the way home down the wonderful but dangerous road… I took a slightly different route via Coniston which led me down a similar but much safer road through the mountains a little lower in the valley and didn’t take me any longer so for those preferring an easier drive, follow the route via Coniston!
The calf held up on the walk and the evening was topped off with another 2 pints, this time a lovely pale ale with a burger.
23,713 steps complete. Over 16.1km walked. 3 Pints consumed. Calories consumed – unknown!
It’s time relax ahead of the climb of the tallest peak in the north – Skiddaw.
In April 2022, I’ll be taking on a 7 day trek in Peru, South America to the infamous Machu Picchu. If you’d like to support me on my quest to fundraising for the charity Mental Health Foundation, you can click the button below to read more about my story and make a kind donation.