Scafell Pike From Eskdale and Boot – via Pen
A superb, little used way of ascending England’s highest mountain. A route full of character and drama – one for the connoisseurs and arguably one of the best.
Start and Finish: Jubilee Bridge in Eskdale
Distance: 8.6 km
Ascent: 948 m
Time: 3.5 - 4 hours
Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
The Woolpack Inn – Boot.
Eskdale is remote by Lake District standards and paths can become lost in the mist. High navigational skills are required if the weather is poor.
Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path, Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.
Scafell Pike From Eskdale and Boot – via Pen Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
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Scafell Pike From Eskdale and Boot – via Pen
Despite it being England’s highest peak, it is possible to find quiet routes to the summit of Scafell Pike. In fact, in our experience, there is no quieter approach than that of Eskdale from near the appropriately named village of Boot. This is one of the longer routes to the summit through the remote confines of Eskdale and Great Moss and if this is your first time climbing Scafell Pike, it is probably best avoided – the Hollow Stones or Seathwaite routes will be much more suitable.
Eskdale is the Lake District’s wild, largely unspoiled valley which, despite being ringed by some of the most famous of the Lakeland fells, sees very little in the way of visitors. For Scafell Pike first-timers, Eskdale has everything they would probably want to avoid; a long walk in, pathless navigation, bogs, remoteness, solitude. For the more experienced, these things add up to create a stunning, memorable day out in the fells.
Scafell Pike From Eskdale and Boot- via Pen Route Description
1 – Getting to Eskdale is usually the first challenge as you either have to cross the notorious Wrynose and Hardknott passes or take a longer route around the western side of the national park. Parking can be found close to Jubilee Bridge (NY 21346 01111) or in a couple of laybys along the valley road (NY 21020 01126 & NY 20865 01017). Start off by heading north along the track located next to the old phone box at the western footings of the Hardknott Pass.
2 – The overall aim is to follow the River Esk to Great Moss in Upper Eskdale. This can be done on either side of the river. For a wilder experience as this route describes, follow the path on the western side. To reach this, cross the footbridge at Brotherilkeld and follow the field boundary to Yaw-House farm. At the farm, turn right through the yard and through another gate.
3 – The track leads to Scale Bridge and the follows a drystone wall down to the river Esk. The section beneath Heron Crag can be wet and boggy in places. As you approach what appears to be the head of the valley, the path veers left and begins to climb. Below you will see the delightful Lingcove Bridge.
4 – The path becomes a bit more interesting here, climbing up alongside the rocky gorge that carries the River Esk over Esk Falls. The valley narrows as you reach the top where the great range of the Scafells makes a sudden, dramatic appearance across the skyline.
5 – At Green Crag (NY 22480 04573) the path becomes fairly indistinct as it crosses an area of marshy ground. Keep following the river until you reach a drystone wall and an old sheepfold where a path will reappear once again. Above you are the immense southern crags of the Scafells – Cam Spout Crag being the most obvious. The objective of Pen sits hidden below the skyline, blending in to its rocky surrounds.
6 – Follow the path north as it passes through Sampson’s Stones – a collection of large boulders that are regarded as some of the best bouldering in the Uk – offering over 80 different routes. The peaked summit of Pen will begin to emerge, topping off the immense Central Pillar and Dow Crag. The route of ascent also becomes more noticeable, following a fan of scree to the left of the buttress. You will also probably notice that it is a steep climb.
7 – From Cam Spout Crag, cross How Beck. A small cairn marks the location to deviate from the main path (NY 22091 06140) and begin following a stream as it climbs alongside Pen. The summit will now be hidden behind Dow Crag. A faint path skirts the side of the stream but, if the weather is dry, the stream is also a good route of ascent. The route is steep though not overly difficult.
8 – The path steepens further and reaches a broad, rocky gully. From here, the choice of route is up to you. You can follow the gully to the top and turn right towards the summit or, make a direct climb up through rocks and grass from the 600m contour (approx NY 22033 06145). This section is entirely pathless so careful navigation will be required.
9 – As the steepness subsides, Pen’s summit will come into view, a small fortress of rock perched in a sea of grass – scramblers will enjoy solving the easy puzzle to reach the top. Pen’s summit is characterised by banded rock and a small cairn. The views are among the best in the Lake District and well worth the effort of the climb. To the west and the north are the lesser-seen sides of Scafell Pike and Ill Crag while to the east is an aerial view of Eskdale.
10 – From Pen, a further climb up Rough Crag is required to reach Scafell Pike’s summit. Head in a northwesterly direction over pathless ground, climbing through a series of rock terraces to reach an area of grass. Scafell Pike lies dead ahead. As you reach Chambers Crag, a path of shorts makes an appearance to lead you up the final section.
11 – It is likely that the bustling summit of Scafell Pike may come as a shock given the quietness of this route. In fact, while doing this route ourselves on a fine summer day, only two climbers were encountered and no walkers – proof that this really is the ‘quiet way’.