Undoubtedly a lot of people take the path to England's highest mountain from Wasdale Head but probably rather fewer enjoy the experience which is a shame as it is a wonderful fell with fantastic views as you would expect. This much more interesting route climbs it via a steep and rough gully to the col of Mickledore between the Pike and Scafell. The approach to Mickledore across Hollow Stones looks intimidating, rock walls close in, and the way ahead impenetrable. Just as it looks like a desperate scramble up the headwall will be required a simple gully appears. Atmospheric, loose, and narrow. What better way to a summit than to put hands on the rock, to feel its character.
Scafell Pike is mainly comprised of Borrowdale Volcanic rock, the summit a shattered and jumbled boulder field. Mickledore is an intrusion, that is magma pushed through a weakened seam in the underlying rock, stained red from iron oxides. It has weathered less well than the older rock either side and so has become a pass between the valleys of Eskdale to its south east and Wasdale to the west.
Our walk starts at Brackenclose at the head of Wast Water. There is a National Trust campsite here, and a pay and display car park just over the bridge on the left beyond the campsite entrance.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Scafell Pike; and includes 1 Furth, 1 Wainwright, 1 Birkett, 1 Marilyn, 1 Hewitt, 1 Nuttall, 1 HuMP, 1 County Top - Administrative, 1 County Top - Historic, and 1 County Top - Current County and Unitary Authority.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Head up to the notice board at the top corner of the parking area and out on to the road up to Wasdale Head Farm and Brackenclose. Turn left onto the road, cross the cattle grid, and as the tarmac road swings right bear left onto the path signposted "Scafell massif". Keep left, and in front of FRCC climbing hut Brackenclose bear left on the permissive path on the edge of the grounds.
Above the hut keep on the right hand bank of Lingmell Gill until the footbridge. Turn left to cross the footbridge and bear right on the rough earth and stone path. Go through the kissing gate and continue on the path which becomes stone pitched in a bit.
Go through the kissing gate just above where the two paths join, continuing on the path beyond.
In 300m (330 yards), at the confluence of two tributaries, cross Lingmell Gill to continue on the stone pitched path along the side of Brown Tongue - the old path climbed the tongue but caused erosion problems, use the easy new path.
Nearing the end of the tongue, at the cairn, take the right fork of the 'Y' junction. Initially the path is pitched but quickly reverts to a vague over rock and grass occasionally cairned affair. The way directly ahead is obvious: the breach in the crags up to the col of Mickledore.
Pass some impressively large boulders, one of which has a shallow howff beneath it - perhaps suitable for a hobbit - there isn't much room. The pitching returns with a request to keep to it as Fix The Fells are trying to restore erosion scars in the area. Once again the pitching disappears and rough mountain path and scree returns. Continue, choosing the easiest looking ground directly ahead.
Looking up over your right shoulder is Lord's Rake - a bit of a desperate gully climb to Scafell.
Onward ahead your task is clear, climb the scree, and a gully there'll be.
The gradient is starting to get a little steep, and the path through scree is quite loose although clearly defined. Keep ahead.
If you keep sliding backwards don't push off with your toes but place your feet sideways to the slope making more stable platforms. At the head of the scree take the gully slanting slightly right and upwards. Ignore a narrow cleft on the left. Clamber into the gully, trying not to send stones skittering down onto anyone below you. Some of the larger rocks in here are quite loose and holding back a river of stone, dislodging them would not be good. The gully zigzags a little, and then you are on the narrow col of Mickledore between the Pike and Scafell.
Turn left along the ridge. The summit of Scafell Pike is ahead but baring the way is a large boulder field. There are many cairned paths so it is largely a case of picking your poison. Try not to fall down the gaps between boulders. At least one of the cairned ways joins the main path from the left fork of the 'Y' junction (remember that!), and then bears right onto the summit to avoid a rather steep direct assault.
At the summit the trig point is rather overshadowed by the tall platform come cairn.
Returning from the summit - your walk is not complete until you are safely down - drop down to the long ridge in line with the valley of Mosedale, across Wasdale Head, approximately north west. the cairned path will come quickly into view. A large cairn stands seemingly atop of a precipice on the right hand edge of the ridge. Follow the cairned path, and instead of a precipice the path continues easily downwards if still a little rough. A short section of sloping slab provides a little interest and respite from the loose stones.
Above Lingmell col, keep on the main path, bear left and on to eventually the gentle zigzags above the Y junction. Continue dropping downwards as per the outward route.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Illgill Head and Whin Rigg||22m (24 yards) away|
|Scafell Pike and Scafell via Foxes Tarn||44m (48 yards) away|
|A Mosedale Horseshoe||114m (125 yards) away|
|Scafell Pike - The Easy Way||1.0km (0.6 miles) away|
|Kirk Fell and Great Gable||1.1km (0.7 miles) away|
|Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route from Wasdale||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|Great End, Scafell Pike, and Lingmell: a roundabout journey||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|Yewbarrow||1.6km (1.0 miles) away|
|Middle Fell, Seatallan, Buckbarrow - a Greendale round||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011