You may remember (but probably don’t) that one of the small goals I set myself last year to complete by the end of 2017 was to hike each of the three peaks (the tallest peak in each of the three constituent countries of mainland UK) – Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike. I climbed Snowdon on New Years Eve 2016, and earlier this week I finally climbed a second one – Scafell Pike. It wasn’t particularly well-planned, but by coincidence I happened to be on a family holiday less than 20 miles from the mountain so it seemed crazy not to take advantage of it.
Sadly, as often seems to be the way with my hikes, visibility was extremely poor. In fact, not only was there no view from the top but for almost the entire walk it was down to around 20 metres and sometimes maybe even less. This made it a little eerie and disorientating, and also perhaps a bit underwhelming. Although I enjoy the physical challenge of a hike, it’s nice to be rewarded with some views as well, so it’s hard to judge or comment on how good of a hike this really is.
From a purely physical point of view, it’s not hugely demanding – a decent path for most of the way, that is steep but steady with only a couple of very steep scrambly sections shortly before the summit, and a couple of boulder fields and patches of scree. The path is well constructed out of large pieces of stone which seems like a good thing but in fact becomes incredibly treacherous on the way down if the stone is even slightly wet. I’d be amazed, given the sheer number of people ascending the mountain when we were descending, if there weren’t a few injuries, particularly given that, as usual, a lot of people were not really in appropriate footwear.
We took what is, I believe, one of the most popular routes starting from the Wasdale National Trust campsite car park. From here, the route is generally fairly clear and well marked, and it’s no more than a four hour round trip going at a fairly steady pace. I was glad that we made the decision to leave early and be on the track by 0730, as we were mostly alone on the way up and were alone on the summit for a while, but the mountain was starting to become pretty busy by the time we started to come down, at about 0930-1000.