Scafell Pike, Lake District

The boulder-strewn Scafell Pike is England’s highest peak at 3210ft and is located in the Lake District National Park. Forming part of the Southern Fells, one of Lakeland’s wildest and most majestic regions, it affords some incredible views of Windermere, Derwent Water and the peaks of Great Gable and Pillar.

Despite its imposing elevation, Scafell Pike’s summit can be reached on foot via a series of challenging but accessible paths and hiking routes. So how was this hidden gem Lake District attraction formed?

How was Lakeland Formed?

The history of Lakeland is written in its rocks. Buckling under the pressures caused by movement of the Earth’s crust, layers of rock twisted from the horizontal to the almost vertical. Wind, rain, ice and frost then eroded the surface, gradually revealing rocks from different ages.

Skiddaw Slates

The oldest rocks in the Lake District are the Skiddaw Slates. These were formed by sediment that accumulated on the Ordovician seabed around 500 million years ago. The slopes built on these rocks, such as the snow-capped Saddleback north-east of Keswick, tend to be smooth in their constitution due to the rocks weathering evenly.

Borrowdale Volcanics

By contrast, the jagged outcrops of the Scafell massif, which are known as Borrowdale Volcanics, record the violence that erupted 450 million years ago when immense volcanic eruptions buried the area in ash and lava.

Silurian Rocks

Around 10 million years later, the sea reclaimed Lakeland and the erosion of the sediment once found on the Silurian seabed gave rise to the gentle landscapes that can be found around places such as Hawkshead.

Climbing Scafell Pike

Thousands people flock to Scafell Pike each year to enjoy the magnificent scenery and of course to reach the peak’s summit. During the summer months, long lines of walkers can be seen picking their way up stony hillsides to the top.

The peak of Scafell Pike was actually donated to the National Trust in 1919 by Lord Leconfield in memory of the men who lost their lives during the First World War. There’s also a memorial on nearby Great Gable commemorating members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club.

Routes to the Top

Although relatively accessible in terms of the terrain, climbing Scafell Pike is a considerable undertaking that should be planned properly beforehand. There are a collection of routes that lead to the top. Their starting points are: Wasdale Head, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Langdale and Hardknott:

  • From Wasdale – Ascent: 900 metres, Distance: 9km
  • From Langdale – Ascent: 1120 metres, Distance: 18km
  • From Hardknott (Southern Approach) – Ascent: 1000 metres, Distance: 17km
  • From Borrowdale – Ascent: 1000 metres, Distance: 15km
  • From Wasdale (Corridor Route) – Ascent: 970 metres, Distance: 7.8km

Be sure to check the forecast before climbing Scafell Pike and leave enough time to complete your chosen route during daylight hours. Also ensure that you’ve got the right kind of clothing and equipment for the trek. Follow the link for further information:

Looking to Stay in the Lake District? Take a look at our hand-picked range of self catering holiday properties in the region.

The Lake District is also well-suited to couples. Check our post on five ideal locations for romantic getaways in the United Kingdom.

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.