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the highest mountain in england

Scafell Pike – The 1# Highest Mountain in England

The Lake District, Cumbria, is a place well known for its wondrous landscapes and rugged mountain fells so it is no surprise that the highest mountain in England would be located there. Scafell Pike, at a height of 978m (3209ft) is widely considered to be one of the most difficult climbs in all of the Lake District yet despite this reputation remains a very popular mountain for people to visit.

More than 250,000 people climb Scafell Pike each year, and as you can imagine, reaching the summit offers a wonderful sense of achievement to any that can conquer it. Scafell Pike is also well known for being a part of the National Three Peaks challenge, alongside Ben Nevis (Scotland) and Snowdon (Wales) and, is the smallest of the three. Despite this it is actually, considered one of the most difficult climbs in the Three Peaks challenge, with Snowdon being the easiest.


The History of Scafell Pike

The summit of Scafell Pike isn’t just one of the highest points in the country but holds a lot of history too. After the war, Scafell Pike as well as its surrounding land above 3000ft, was one of 14 Lakeland summits gifted to the National Trust which are known as the ‘Great Gift’.  The summit was gifted by Lord Leconfield in 1919; ”in perpetual memory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom peace and right in the Great War 1914 – 1918.”. As such Scafell Pike’s summit is now the home of the highest war memorial in the United Kingdom, making it a site of remembrance and tribute who lost their lives during the First World War.


scafell pike

Photo © Steve Partridge (cc-by-sa/2.0)


How To Be Safe When Visiting Scafell Pike

The mountain is known to be quite a tough climb, it is very steep and also involves some scrambling over hard terrain. Due to its difficult nature, planning and preparation before attempting to tackle Scafell Pike are necessary.

In the past year, 2021, the National Trust also reported an increase in the number of visitors going up Scafell Pike. As a result, the local mountain rescue team was under extreme pressure throughout the year. The most recent incident is the beginning of this year which resulted in a two-day rescue mission of 21 mountain rescuers and two search dogs.  As such it is recommended you go as a group or with a guide, especially as a beginner when trying to climb the mountain. This relieves this pressure as you can account for each other. and it also just makes the experience much safer for you if you have others to help and look out for you.

For other safety information please read through our guide of Tips for Hiking as even though it is listed for beginners, it features important safety tips for climbers of all experiences.


scafell pike

Photo © N Chadwick (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How to be Respectful When Visiting Scafell Pike

Due to the fragile state of the environment in Scafell Pike and of the large number of visitors it receives, you are expected to stick to the footpaths as much as you possibly can. Also as the summit does feature a war memorial, please treat it respectfully and do not cause any damage to the location. The National Trust works hard to maintain the upkeep of Scafell Pike so it is in the climber’s best interest to help do their part and limit the amount of work needing to be done by following rules and leaving no mess behind.

Along with this, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Countryside Code as it’s always important to be aware of what the rules are of the place you are visiting and how to be as respectful to the surrounding environment.

scafell pike

Photo © Ian Taylor (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Can you take Children or Dogs on the Climb up Scafell Pike?

Younger children should not be taken on the climb, however should be fine for older children as long as you pick a suitable route. Please also note that dogs are welcomed on the climb, but you need to make sure they are experienced with fell areas.

For hikes up other mountains in the Lake District that are a bit less extreme but still famous in their own rights, please check out our list of beginner hikes in the UK, which features a few selections from Cumbria. There are also other hikes around the area of Scafell Pike you can go on if you are feeling adventurous and still want to see the mountain without having the intense climb.


When Is The Best Time to Visit Scafell Pike?

If you are visiting in more difficult seasons such as Winter, it is strongly advised that you be a more experienced climber as you will need the correct clothing and equipment as well as the knowledge of how to use it all. The best time for beginner climbers to visit is Summer, as that is when you have the best chance of good weather.

Weather conditions can change frequently as is often the case when dealing with mountain territories, and as it is in the Lake District, rain is pretty common. If you are visiting in between early November – March, snow can be expected to keep in mind that can also drastically increase the difficulty of the climb and will affect the equipment you need to bring.  You should check the forecast before beginning your climb, which you can do so here.  


scafell pike

Doug Sim, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Which is the Best Route to use to Climb Scafell Pike?

It is hard to say exactly how long the climb up Scafell Pike will take and what amount of effort will be required as it all depends on which route you decide to take up to the summit. Going from Wasdale Borrowdale or Great Landale are the three most common ones done by visitors, which we have organized by the amount of time they take and what experience of climber they are recommended for. Each of these options allows everyone a chance to climb the highest mountain in England.

Route 1 – Wasdale

Time: 3 hours

This route is best for beginners as it is the shortest and most direct way up Scafell Pike, this 3-mile route is considered the easiest of the three, however, be warned from the get-go you are walking uphill so it depends on what you are wanting from the climb.

Route 2 –  Borrowdale

Time: 5-6 hours

For a longer walk, the route from Borrowdale may go on a few extra miles and you are still going uphill, it is much less steep than the previous route. This route is great if you are wanting to make more of a day out experience of your climb up Scafell Pike and is the most popular way people take.  It’s full of lovely sights you’d expect from the Lake District and there’s even a waterfall along the way.

Route 3 – Great Langdale

Time  5-7 hours

The more advanced route up Scafell Pike, this route is for a full day out especially if you want to get the most views possible out of your visit to the Lake District. It requires traveling up rough and rocky terrains and is the most strenuous route, but if you are a more experienced climber it will also probably be the most fun and rewarding route for you to take.


Whichever route you find works best for you, as long as you remember to be safe and prepared to climb up the highest mountain in England, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy the achievement of climbing Scafell Pike.



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