This route can be started either from the parking at Wasdale head next to the public toilets, or from the National Trust car park next to the campsite.
Parking – Follow the signs and park at NT Lake Head car park (GR NY 182 074) – open 24 hours with limited toilet facilities available. There’s a charge for parking, with your fees contributing to the work of our National Trust upland rangers maintaining the main routes up Scafell Pike. Remember, noise travels far in our quiet valley, so please switch off engines overnight and keep noise to an absolute minimum to avoid disturbing visitors to the campsite.
In the Ranger’s opinion, this route is a challenging way to the top of Scafell Pike involving some scrambling over steep, loose ground.
Ranger’s top tips and detailed route information:
1. The river crossing at NY195 074 (299m above sea level.) When in spate this beck can be very difficult to cross. You may be able to cross higher up as the flow allows but this still will be difficult and potentially hazardous. Also be aware that you may be able to get across going up, but if the rain is particularly bad, the beck may be impassable on the way back down. We’ve been caught out by this in the past! On a sunny day though then there’s no problems! Please follow the stone pitched path following the beck up and not the route on the nose of Brown Tongue as this is subject to erosion and took five years to fix back in the 1980s.
2. There’s a split in the path at NY201 072 (504m above sea level) with the right hand turn heading to Mickledore col and the left to Hollowstones. This is very easy to miss if you’ve got your head down and especially at night. Remember to turn right! If you do miss it and continue on towards Hollowstones, you can still access the Summit of Scafell Pike. The path continues to be clear for 150m or so and then enters a more open grass area. Taking a bearing of 115 will lead you to a large cairn at the bottom of the stone pitched route heading up towards Mickledore col.
3. This 400m section of path was completed in 2011 at a cost of £70,000 and a lot of sweat and tears! If you look to your left you can just make out the 10m wide 350m long erosion scar that was repaired and is greening up nicely. Please keep to the pitched path and not to the edges to avoid creating another scar, thank you. The steps eventually stop and a gravel path leads you up towards the col.
4. The final ascent of Mickledore involves a steep scramble over loose eroded ground for about 80m or so; it isn’t recommended for large groups as the ground is very fragile and the final ascent contains loose rock which can be dislodged easily. When you reach the col at NY210 069 (826m above sea level) turn left past the stretcher box and follow the cairned route towards Scafell Pikesummit. Please do not turn right as this leads you to the start of the scramble on Broad Stand up to Scafell (a different summit and not part of the three peaks!) and this is extremely hazardous without ropes (a Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team accident blackspot.) Please look at wmrt.org.uk/advice for more information.
5. The final part of the route follows a cairned line through the boulder field for about 740m. At times the path is hard to follow so you will need to be careful. Although there are cairns marking out the route, please be aware that people do build these for fun and sometimes they may not lead you in the direction you wanted to go; we do try and remove these as often as is possible but we cannot get up there all the time so please take care. Please help us by not building any more or adding to the existing ones, thank you.
6. The summit plateau of Scafell Pike can be challenging, especially in the mist, rain and wind that is the usual weather for here! It is very easy in the euphoria in reaching the top to forget which way you came up (again something the Rangers have done on occasion!) To descend to Mickledore col take a bearing of 310 for 100m, then at the cairn take a further bearing of 255 and follow the cairns in this direction ((N.B. the path veers off this bearing after about 60m.) Alternatively you could descend via Hollowstones. Upon reaching the col take care not to descend to your left, turn right (North West.)Taking the wrong turn here leads you in to Upper Eskdale, one of the most beautiful, remote places in the Lake District and well worth a visit; but many miles away from Wasdale. We’ve met groups that have made this mistake before and they were most upset about re-climbing the fell to get back on track!
7. We know by now that your legs and knees are a bit sore and all you want to do is walk on some nice, soft grass; there’s some there right on the edge of this hard, rocky path! Please, please avoid doing this; it’s not just you it’s the impact of the other 30,000 Three Peaks Challengers as well thousands of other visitors who all have sore feet. As you’ll see from the way up this quickly wears large holes in the hillside which will need to be fixed at great expense. The mountain cannot take that level of wear and tear and we need your help to fix it, please make a donation