On the map Scafell and Scafell Pike are just a stone's throw apart. There is, however, a slight problem trying to walk between them in the shape of Broad Stand. A wall of rock standing across the ridge of Mickledore from Scafell Pike makes an impossible obstacle for the walker. The Lakeland poet Samuel Coleridge famously down climbed Broad Stand, or rather he dropped down some of it only to realise he couldn't climb back up, so had to go on. Wainwright gave up ever climbing it.
The two usual walkers' routes both involve a drop in height from Mickledore: Lord's Rake is a desperate loose gully scramble with a precarious chockstone, and not recommended. Foxes Tarn, the way described here, is itself a tiny pool hardly bigger than the outfall it feeds. Set in a small rocky, glacial, amphitheatre which echoes to the bleating of sheep and the rocks skittering down dislodged by their cloven hooves. It has a delightful setting, friendly when the sun shines, atmospheric when the mist and cloud inevitably blows in.
After a slither in the scree from Mickledore above, the way to Foxes Tarn is to climb the gully of its outfall. Distinctive, and with a cairn confirming the entrance the way is unmistakable. It is simply straight up, a bit of loose rock, slippery mosses, boulders to clamber over or around. Nothing too tricky and often choices can be made to mitigate or enhance the scramble. Jessie was having fun, plenty of water for her in tiny pools, and no difficulties for four-paw-drive. She got to the tarn first, as usual. From there the path is up a scree riven slope, where somewhere underneath is a pitched path. Straightforward and not too steep the climb is helped by the summit being close by. The rest of the route too is straightforward: the usual route to Scafell Pike via Lingmell col - otherwise it would be a bit of an out and back - and the descent from Scafell is initially through loose stone and then wide grass ridge to join the bridleway back to Brackenclose.
The National Trust pay and display car park at Brackenclose near the campsite is the obvious starting point for this walk. The currently free parking at Wasdale Head green could also be used and there is a small amount of informal parking on the 'main' road.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Scafell Pike and Scafell; and includes 2 Furths, 2 Wainwrights, 2 Birketts, 1 Marilyn, 2 Hewitts, 2 Nuttalls, 2 HuMPs, 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
At the far end of the Brackenclose car park, go past the information board and out onto the road to the climbing hut and Wasdale Head Hall Farm. Turn left to cross the cattle grid, and the 'Mountain Rescue bridge'. Immediately bear left on the path, signposted "Scafell Massif", to pass the left hand side of the FRCC Brackenclose hut on the permissive path, Cross the footbridge over Lingmell Gill above the hut. Bear right to go through the kissing gate, and alongside the gill. Continue through the next kissing gate and out onto the open fell.
Over rough ground the path continues and crosses a tributary of Lingmell Gill, which drains Lingmell col - this crossing can be quite difficult when in spate. Using the stone pitched path climb alongside Brown Tongue. At the 'Y' junction bear left to cross the boulders and broken ground of Hollow Stones.
As the path rises above Lingmell col it swings right, to climb steeper over loose and rough stones with cairns marking the way. Turning definitively right climb a succession of sloping slabs, again with cairns confirming the way - as they do to the summit.
Worth remembering just off the bottom of the slabs no more than a few paces to the left of the corner, is a tiny pool of water no bigger than a bucket suitable for a thirsty dog.
Reaching the top of the slabs bear left. With the summit ahead follow the cairned path through the boulder fields to the trig point and squat cairn of Scafell Pike summit.
From the squat summit cairn retrace your steps north-west past the trig point, back down the cairned path off the immediate summit area to the plateau. After no more than 100m (110 yards), at a cairn, bear left along another cairned path this time obviously less well used but clear enough, heading for Scafell. At this point the col of Mickledore is yet to be in sight. Follow the cairns through the expanse of boulders, Mickledore should soon appear. The red stained ridge between the two Scafells is distinctive as it is impressive. Broad Stand is at the far end.
From above Mickledore look down to your left, below the buttresses, look for the gully climbing left-to-right into the fell side. This is the gully up to Foxes Tarn.
In front of the MRT stretcher box bear left to descend on a loose scree, but relatively easy, path. Keep right and drop down to the entrance of the gully, you need to keep right or you'll have another small boulder field to cross to get to it.
There is a small cairn marking the gully, and unless the weather has been exceptionally dry there should be water coming down it. The left hand wall is quite shear.
Climb the gully. Initially the right hand side away from the stream seems easiest, but later you might want to cross to the left. Small waterfalls are probably best avoided, covered in moss and quite slippery the chances of a slip are significant.
After the first steep section there is a short respite and then it continues easily up a wider shallow stony gully to the tarn. Opening out, the tarn is tiny with a boulder at its edge. There is no mistaking where you are even if the tarn is dry or frozen over.
At the top of the tarn outfall, turn right up a loose scree slope. Nearing the top of the scree an old stone pitched path appears. Reaching the cairn at the top of the slope bear left following the cairns - ahead in the depression is a curious cross of stones, towards the summit. Cross the small col with shelters left and right and up the boulders to the summit cairn of Scafell just above.
Retrace your steps from the summit cairn back down to the small col with the shelters. Turn left, the path soon drops steeply at times through loose stones and scree. Cairns mark the passage downwards, though the path itself is clear and unambiguous, and heads generally west-north-west.
After what seems like an age the stones gradually thin out. Keep ahead, ignore a turning on your left. Eventually you reach much welcome grass slopes. Burnmoor Tarn is over to the left of the col.
Soon reaching a junction bear right heading along a faint path, beware the occasional marshy area where the path fades, pick it up again the other side. Meander towards the edge of the wide ridge with airy views down to Wasdale Head and Wast Water.
A number of scree gullies make a bee-line for the valley floor but resist them all - they really aren't our territory. Eventually the path bears right and starts descending still on grass slopes which steepen alongside a dry gill. Below, stiles cross the fence and wall into the enclosures. With little prospect of getting a dog through or over the stiles you can turn left and follow the fence for 200m (220 yards) to the corner and then right down to the bridleway. Those people without dogs, but perhaps with a natural aversion to cattle might wish to follow rather than cross the fence too.
Reaching the bridleway turn right, and follow the track, through a number of gates, around the edge of the enclosures back to Brackenclose. Bear left and return to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Scafell Pike - Via Mickledore||44m (48 yards) away|
|Illgill Head and Whin Rigg||50m (55 yards) away|
|A Mosedale Horseshoe||155m (171 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||1.7km (1.0 miles) away|
|Middle Fell, Seatallan, Buckbarrow - a Greendale round||4.3km (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