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Climbing Scafell Pike

Walkers stopping for a photograph above Hollow Stones on Scafell Pike in Wasdale, Cumbria
Walkers stopping for a photograph above Hollow Stones on Scafell Pike in Wasdale | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Standing at 978 metres tall, Scafell Pike is England's highest mountain and war memorial. Thousands of people enjoy Scafell Pike each year, however the climb to the top should not be underestimated and preparation is key to a great day out.

Preparing to climb Scafell Pike

Whichever route you take, Scafell Pike is a tough, steep hike which involves scrambling over hard terrain. There will be challenges in any season: you might be met with high winds, rain, snow, extreme cold or poor visibility. Preparation is key to climbing safely, minimise your chance of getting lost or hurt and enjoy an exhilarating day out by following these safety tips.

Plan your route

Plan your route in advance and choose walking routes with your group’s capabilities and timings in mind. Follow pathways, avoiding cliff edges or walking on terrain that you are unsure of. You can download our trail guide here.

Check the weather

Glorious sunshine? Take a hat and some sun cream. Torrential rain? Consider whether the conditions are suitable based on you and your companion’s capabilities. Remember that warm and sunny conditions at the base can turn to cold, wet and windy conditions at the summit.

Tell a friend

When out exploring with others, it’s important to walk at the pace of the slowest person in your group. If you’d rather go alone, make sure to let someone know your plans before starting your journey. This should include your route, your start and finish points, estimated time of return and also any changes during your trip.

Wear the right gear

Choosing appropriate clothing for your activity is important when tackling the elements. Consider the right footwear, such as walking boots with ankle support, think about insulating layers, waterproofs and hats and gloves when facing challenging climbs, even in the summer.

Go equipped

A map and a compass is a good place to start and should be easily accessible if going on long walks or mountain climbs. You can find these available to borrow at Lake Head car park. Other useful items can include a watch, a torch with spare batteries and bulbs, a fully charged mobile phone, GPS and a whistle. This can be used to signal rescue with six good long blasts, stop for one minute, and then repeat until someone reaches you.

Keep your energy levels up

Before heading out, make sure you eat well. Carry food and plenty of drink to keep you hydrated and bring your energy levels up when needed. Chocolate and dried fruit are a great way to give you that quick boost.

Be vigilant

Be aware of your surroundings and changes in weather conditions. Keep an eye on any children and pets joining you on your trip and be prepared for the possibility of having to turn back on your journey if the weather deteriorates.

Know how to get help

Remember, if you find someone in trouble, don’t put yourself at risk. In an emergency, call 999 for help and ask for the police and then Mountain Rescue

Follow Guidance

The rangers work with Fix the Fells throughout the year to maintain fell paths and care for the fragile montane habitat, however it is vital that you take personal responsibility for your own safety.

Visit the Wasdale Mountain Rescue site and Adventure Smart for more tips on how to prepare for your climb to the summit of Scafell Pike.

View of Scafell Pike from Hollow Stones in Wasdale, Cumbria. White mist sits on the fell with blue skies in the background.
View of Scafell Pike from Hollow Stones in Wasdale | © National Trust Images/John Malley

How many people climb Scafell Pike?

Around 250,000 people climb Scafell Pike each year and we’ve been seeing unprecedented numbers of hikers over recent years. The increase in visitors puts the local mountain rescue teams under extreme pressure.

We ask that you come back another time if the car park is full and endeavour to lift share – the valley road is very narrow and frequently busy.

Dogs at Scafell Pike

Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Scafell Pike, and many will enjoy a long day out climbing as much as their humans. Do bear in mind that it is a long and tiring day across rocky terrain so climbing Scafell Pike is only suitable for dogs used to long walks in the fells.

If your dog isn’t used to the fells then it’s perhaps worth trying a few lower, introductory walks before trying Scafell Pike. Please follow local and seasonal guidance, and where livestock are grazing please keep dogs on leads. For safety please keep your dog on the lead in the car parks.

Two walkers with hiking poles crossing over stones while ascending Scafell Pike, Lake District

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