Scafell Pike and the national 3 Peaks Challenge : be guided or self-guide


Evening on the summit plateau of Scafell Pike

I’m sure that many plans will already be underway for an attempt on the national 3 Peaks Challenge in under 24 hours this year.  Many of you may have already started training in earnest…for this is not a challenge to take lightly!  A total of just over 3000 metres of ascent and a distance of approximately 35km is quite an undertaking for most people, even those with plenty of mountains in their legs already. 

Scafell Pike is the ‘piggy in the middle’ summit of the national 3 peaks challenge - always the second peak – it’s just not feasible to be any other way.  North to south is the usual choice with Ben Nevis as the starting point, then Scafell Pike and finishing on Snowdon.  Some like to start with Snowdon and then head north to Scafell Pike, saving the mighty summit of Ben Nevis for last but however you do it Scafell Pike will never be first or last.  

Not only is Scafell Pike the middle summit, it also has the lowest summit at 978m thereby giving it a bit of an inferiority complex!  So you would expect that being the smallest in height of the three peaks – not even making that 1000m mark - it would therefore be the easiest to climb.  Think again… according to the feedback from many of our clients this little mountain is often found to be the trickiest out of all 3!


Nearing Scafell Pike summit in the mist.

The most popular and shortest route to the top is from Wasdale with the first part of the route being reasonably straightforward – a few shiny new signposts in place and recent improvements to the paths.  Further along there is a river crossing which with heavy rain can be difficult to cross and there are occasions in stormy weather when it has been impassable.  A bit higher up one comes to Hollow Stones, an area covered with boulders, some of them are huge!  On a sunny day the way ahead here is relatively easy to see, but in thick cloud it is very easy to lose the path and many folks have ended up finding themselves on the steep scree path below Mickledore instead of at Lingmell Col – the gentler and advised route of the two.  The top of the mountain is rough and rocky, and there is a large plateau just below the summit, a notorious place for getting lost.  There are steep crags around which you really don’t want to be anywhere near.  When the cloud is down, which is frequent, it is hard to navigate in this terrain but add to this the unpredictability of the weather and possible darkness due to the time of the year or miscalculation of timings and you can have a worrying challenge on your hands. 

So as you can see this ‘piggy in the middle’ mountain is a tough one!  The recommendation is that if you are at all unsure of your navigational skills, then hire a guide such as ourselves ( even if it is only for this one peak. 

Alternatively, if you are still keen to do a self-guided challenge, then come out on a training day with us to recce the route beforehand and we’ll take you through the route and give you guidance on the parts of the route to be cautious on. 

Or learn how to navigate.  On our courses you will learn the necessary skills to let you walk confidently in the mountains. As well as learning how to navigate we’ll take you through other essentials skills such as weather, equipment and what to do in an emergency.

Of course, and we hope that you have clear skies and see the sun rising as you reach the summit, a spectacular sight and one we saw on many occasions last year - see the evidence below!


Early morning views from Scafell Pike

© Copyright 2023. Website by Freshspace.

© Copyright 2024. Website by Freshspace.