The Three Peaks Challenge - Scafell Pike

Details of Scafell Pike as part of the Three Peaks Challenge

The second of the 3 Peaks is normally Scafell Pike, Cumbria, England

Three Peaks Challenge
Scafell Pike - 978 metres

Scafell Pike is the second of the three peaks to be climbed by teams attempting the challenge from either direction (north to south or vice-versa), and will often include a certain amount of walking in the dark. This is allegedly one of the wettest places in England, so you can also expect a fair chance of rain, mist, and pretty poor visibility.

Although navigation on this peak may seem fairly obvious in good conditions, route finding can prove to be extremely difficult in the mist, and in the dark - with many groups coming into difficulties when descending. It is very important to be fully aware of the terrain here, which can lead weary and disorientated walkers into some dangerous and exposed cliffs, gills and gullies.

You should, at the very least, have a competent navigator, and carry enough equipment and food to comfortably wait on the mountain for weather and visibility to improve. GPS units can give false readings due to the crags and cliffs, and mobile phones will not work in the valley.
Wasdale or Seathwaite?

The most popular starting points for Scafell Pike are from either Wasdale or Seathwaite. Both have extremely limited facilities, and you should make best use of motorway services before entering the Lake District.

Seathwaite is the easiest to access from the M6 motorway, via Keswick, and reduces the overall drive time by around 1 hour. The downside is that the actual walk to the summit is longer, adding the hour saved by the shorter drive.

Wasdale is situated on the western side of the Lake District, and should be approached via the main A595 road. Check our recommended driving route to avoid known trouble spots, especially the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. Wasdale is not suitable for larger vehicles.

Walking Route

From Seathwaite: From parking in the lane, quietly go through the farm and follow the main path easily to Stockley Bridge. Cross the bridge and continue along the path into Styhead Gill, more steeply now. From the mountain rescue kit at Sty Head, bear left then turn right onto the Corridor Route, through the crags to Lingmell Col. Bear left here for the final climb to the top.

From Wasdale: From the car park at Wasdale Head, head south on the tarmac road to the style/gate and bridleway and footpath signs. Follow the footpath through a field to cross a river on the footbridge. Gentle uphill path right, to path junction at Lingmell Gill. Left uphill, through gate and continue uphill by the gill. Cross river and climb more steeply past Brown Tongue. Bear left on the main path here, across Hollow Stones to Lingmel Col. Bear right on final climb to the top.

The route via Mickledore should be avoided on your challenge.

Walking Times

As a rough guide, you should be aiming to achieve
these times on the mountain:

From Wasdale : 2 hours climb, 2 hour descent.
From Seathwaite : 2.5 hours climb, 2.5 hours descent.
Scafell Pike - Top Tips

1. Don't underestimate just how difficult this mountain can be when navigating in poor visibility. Pay a visit to the area before your challenge, and have a training walk so you are familiar when you return.

2. Many mistakes are made by trying to return back from the summit too quickly. Steady accurate progress down the mountain is much better than rapid progress in the wrong direction. 

3. The paths underfoot are rocky and loose, and very slippery when wet. You will need to cross the Gill if using the route from Wasdale. Always wear walking boots with ankle protection - not training shoes.

4. Always carry a head torch and spare batteries, even if you do not intend to still be on Scafell Pike in the dark. Hi-viz jackets and rear LED lights or glow-sticks are an ideal way to help a team stay together.

5. Groups should stay together in poor visibility. It is very easy to get split up, and even pass each other without realising it. One common reason for failing to complete the challenge within a 24 hour period is time lost searching for team members on Scafell Pike in the dark.

6. Beware of becoming confused by other head torches on the mountain. It is very easy to be drawn towards other teams, only to discover they are lost, or are attempting a different route.

7. Stick to made-up paths, and route with cairns. Once you lose the path underfoot, or lose sight of cairns, it can be difficult and confusing trying to rediscover the correct route. Walking on the fell or grass adds to errosion of the area and should be avoided.

8. If possible, try to remain in contact with your support vehicle, and other team members, by using handheld VHF radios. Mobile phones will not work in the Wasdale or Seathwaite valley - but both do have a public telephone available (credit card may be required).

9. Your team should use the motorway services to have a break, get a hot drink, fuel up your vehicle, use the toilets, dispose of rubbish, fill up water bottles, change maps, sort out your kit and rucsac ready for Scafell Pike. Idealy you should be able to arrive and start walking - Wasdale and Seathwaite have no facilities, no water available, and no street lighting. Arrive fully prepared..!

10. Please respect these quiet and remote locations.

Both areas are sensitive and are surrounded by working farms, campsites, B&B's, etc. Please keep any noise and disruption to an absolute minimum. Arrive quietly and turn your engine and headlights off. Don't slam vehicle doors, play loud music, or shout to each other.

Park considerately in designated parking areas - taking care not to block access for local traffic or Mountain Rescue Services.

Remove all rubbish you create, and use motorway service toilets, not behind walls, trees and bushes..!

Mobile phones tend to get a very poor (if any) reception in the valley areas. Reception from the summits is much better. You should back up your communications with VHF radios, and send text messages where possible if the person you are trying to contact has no mobile signal.

Scafell Pike:

Summit can have a good signal, depending upon weather. Wasdale has no signal, but a signal can be found by climbing some 100 metres out of the valley. Wasdale Head Inn has a public telephone (credit card type)

Seathwaite has no reception, but a public phone can be found near Seathwaite Farm.

Merseyventure Challenge & Adventure Website
Three Peaks Challenge Forum
Browse the Three Peaks Challenge forum here
Three Peak Challenge blog from Event Organiser
Open Challenge Series 2011
Scafell Pike training event:
Wasdale Head, Cumbria
26th-27th March 2011

Open Three Peaks Challenge Series 2009
Summit of Scafell Pike
Public Footpath Sign
Typical Scafell Pike conditions...
Scafell Pike and Mickledore from Hollow Stones - click for Facebook event 2011
Bridge Over Lingmel Gill
Typical Scafell Pike conditions...
Scafell Pike Summit
Public Footpath Sign

View Three Peaks Challenge - Scafell Pike from Wasdale in a larger map