Waking up at 3 am on your birthday doesn’t sound like much fun. But we woke up excited and ready for the day. Because we were going to walk up Scafell Pike from Wasdale and it was a Wainwright that we were saving for a special day. We knew the weather was going to be spot on. So after some quick early breakfast, we were in the car and on our way.
Driving to Scafell Pike start point for our hike at Wast Water
We set off from our location in Cockermouth at around 3:30 am and drove south heading towards Wast Water. And for us, the journey took around an hour and we followed the A595 down the west coast of Cumbria. We then turned off at a little village called Gosforth before driving to Wast Water itself. Where this would be the starting point of our Scafell Pike hike.
The roads were quiet in Cumbria at that time in the morning so the journey was an easy one. Helped by the likes of ‘My blue sky’ being played several times. Indeed being one of our happy songs and always gets us in the spirit. Therefore waking us up on the journey down there. Especially knowing that the sun was going to be out all day, made it all the sweeter.
We had packed our backpacks the night before. And so we had everything with us ready to go which made it much easier to get on the move first thing. This is something that we always tend to do. We’re early morning hikers in the summer in the Lake District. And so like to get off before the sun comes up.
“Morning is the best part of the day for walking. The air is freshest then, the earth sweetest.”Alfred Wainwright
Everyone seemed the have the same idea for a walk up Scafell Pike
As we pulled up to the field in which we were parking to climb Scafell Pike it became clear very quickly that it wasn’t going to be a quiet walk at all. Arriving at just gone 4:30 am we saw dozens and dozens of cars and vans already parked up. Most of the vehicles were empty as early hikers had already left from Wasdale Head. They were already on their way up the highest Fell in England. And some of them on their way back down.
Starting the walk up Scafell Pike
We knew that it wouldn’t be the quietest of hikes up Scafell Pike. But we did think at that time in the morning it would be a little more peaceful. However, this didn’t dampen our spirit. After a quick visit to the toilet block which is located just next to the car park at Wasdale. We were ready and set off. It is worth noting that you should take some tissues or a few sheets of toilet roll with you. As the toilet block soon runs out with all the visitors that pass through each day.
We checked our ordinance survey map one more time (OS6). Just to make sure we were heading onto the right route. And then started our climb up some grassy banks away from Wast Water. And crossing some very trodden paths with cows grazing on the Fell sides. Now for us who are not a fan of cows at all. This was to be our first and only challenge of the walk up Scafell Pike.
Our crazy fear of the cows after leaving Wasdale
There were big black cows littered along the paths and people following close behind. So we had to suck in our fears and pass them as quietly as we could without giving off the scent of utter fear.
After moving swiftly on from the encounter with the cattle. We made our way to what felt like the true starting point for Scafell Pike walk. There was a little beck called Lingmell Beck and after crossing this we started to follow the steep path along the beck itself.
The sun was just starting to rise and looking back behind us we could see it hitting Wast Water. It really was a lovely morning with barely a breath of wind as we walked towards our end goal of Scafell Pike. We could feel the day warming up already.
Meeting hikers on the way up to the No1 Wainwright summit
As we followed the path up what is known as Brown Tongue and further away from Wast Water the route got a little steeper. And we slowed our pace down to keep moving without stopping too often.
Along the way, we met a group of three men. They told us they were climbing Scafell Pike as part of the three peak challenge. We spoke with them more on the way up to the peak. They told us that they had already been to Ben Nevis the previous evening and after their walk up Scafell Pike, they’d be leaving to hit the road and head to Wales. From there they would climb Snowdon to complete the challenge in twenty-four hours.
With the weather how it was forecast for the day in the Lake District, we didn’t envy them all that much. With temperatures likely to hit the early thirties that day. We had planned the early morning leave just to avoid hiking in the midday heat. So to think about starting the massive hike up Snowdon at around 2 pm. Which they were estimating for sounded like a tough day for sure.
But they seemed physically ready for the three peak challenge. And we left them further up on the walk but would meet them again at the summit.
Not the clearest of paths to walk up Scafell Pike
After getting through the steepest part of the hike up Scafell Pike, the route becomes a little gentler on the legs. But in turn, it becomes a little more unclear of the route itself.
This part of the walk was not the easiest to navigate from our walk from Wasdale. And so in poorer weather conditions, it would be well advised to have some good experience in hiking the Fells in the Lake District. We were lucky on the day because the whole time there was a constant line of what I can only say looked like little ants making their way up the fell. And the weather was very clearly on our side too.
And us being part of the ant line simply followed the person ahead and so the route made sense as we got higher up our Scafell Pike walk. There were people already making their way back down the Wainwright as we headed up too. With it being at the end of June and a weekend for that matter. I believe a lot of them would have also been taking part in the 24 hours 3 peak challenge and were simply bagging the Lakeland Fell as quickly as they could to move onto the next.
Enjoying our hike up the highest mountain in England
For us though, we were enjoying the climb and the shade which was on us the whole time heading up the highest mountain in England. We had plenty of snacks (we pack as though we’re out hiking for days at a time) and lots of water too. With the heat of the summer, it’s essential that on any walk you do that you take plenty of water with you.
On some days hiking in the Lakes, we could be out for up to ten hours walking amongst the Wainwright Fells. So packing plenty of water really is important so that you don’t dehydrate along any of your walks. Yes, it weighs a tonne when you start off but you’ll appreciate it throughout the day.
The boulder field was in sight on our hike to Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike comes from the language of the Vikings, and means ‘bald summit mountain’. Which is rather fitting for the mountain because there really is nothing but boulders for the last 100m or so towards the top. Check out more facts on the mountain and more hiking routes of Scafell Pike here.
As you get closer to the summit of the highest mountain in England you hit this boulder field and there is a little bit of a zig-zag as you make your way through and up the rocks. This makes a welcome relief in the terrain to have a mix-up. But it’s worth saying to be careful on the way through the boulder field as some of the rocks are loose and you could easily slip or trip on them as you make your way up.
We could see more people starting to congregate as we got closer on our walk to the summit of Scafell Pike and then you see the massive cairn come into view. It really is something else and was re-built only a few years ago.
The cairn on the top of Scafell Pike
As the sun hit our faces and we started to feel the heat of the sun on our shoulders. We had made it to the summit of Scafell Pike. And we were buzzing and it took us just shy of two hours to get there.
Climbing up the final steps of the cairn was spot on. And then we took in the views properly as we stood there looking around the Lake District from the highest point in England. Although it was pretty busy with other hikers talking and moving around at the top of the Fell. There was still a sense of peace being at the summit of Scafell Pike after our walk there.
After we high fived each other as we do when we reach the summit of any new mountain that we’ve climbed. We stood there for a good few minutes just looking out at the views around the Lake District. Hazel looked over to me and said “Happy birthday”, and I turned and smiled at her and said the same back. With being in the moment it was perfect. What a lovely morning it had been already, with the best of a friend by your side.
What a birthday morning it had been, walking to the top of Scafell Pike. And to be greeted with the sun at the top, and the views that stretched for miles and miles over the Lakelands. There wasn’t much else we could have asked for that day. On top of that, we had a certain amount of self-pride as we looked at the overlying Wainwrights in front of us, and could say without a doubt that most of them we had climbed. And the few that we hadn’t done so far, would be hiked in the future.
Just some of the views from Scafell Pike
Looking towards the north we could see Great Gable directly in front. To the east was Esk Pike and the Langdale Pikes behind. These include Pike O’Stickle and Harrison Stickle. Walking around the summit of Scafell Pike we looked out towards the south too. Here we could see Scafell in its mighty stance too. And then finally over to the west, we saw some of the Fells like Steeple, Pillar and Red Pike.
These are only to name but a few. The whole views look out from Scafell Pike are some of the finest in the Lake District. And on the clear day that welcomed up, they really blew us away.
To sum our hike up Scafell Pike
It was a lovely walk up Scafell Pike and if you get the chance to do the walk from Wasdale then certainly give it a shot. With the change in gradient and terrain, you feel as though you really are on an adventure. On top of that, climbing the highest mountain in England does help to make it feel more special.
And although thousands of walkers walk to the top of Scafell Pike each and every year. They do it for their own reasons and their own personal goals. And that’s what any walking is all about. It’s a sense of self-achievement that you just don’t get sat behind a desk or watching TV in the evening.
For us, the Lake District is a part of us and we truly feel more home here, than we do anywhere else. A great morning’s walk and yes if you were wondering what we did with the rest of our birthday. We ate plenty of cake, then a little more cake on top and enjoyed the sunshine for the rest of the day. Not hiking but simply laid in a park taking up the rays to rest our legs.
To finish off we visited the Rose Hill Theatre and had a super comedy evening. It’s a lovely little venue and if you’re in the area around Whitehaven then it’s worth a visit for sure.
New walks from us are always being added. Check them out from our Wainwright page where you can choose from the Fell that you’re interested in finding out more about. Or subscribe below to receive our latest blogs.
True Freedom SeekersHazel and Zoe
We hope you find our walks and adventures in the Lake District helpful. And we wish you much fun and success on bagging the Wainwrights yourself. If you want to share any stories with us then please feel free to. Have a super day.