Scafell Pike and Lingmell from Wasdale Head

8th August 2019

It's been another unsettled and dare I say unseasoned week of weather with flooding affecting not just Cumbria but the whole of the UK. I'd booked a couple of days off from work a few weeks ago knowing my weekends were going to be busy with other stuff and in between all the yellow warnings I spied a weather window on Thursday afternoon so I thought about planning a walk up Scafell Pike, something that I haven't done since May 2018.

Despite all this rain I knew it wasn't going to be just me who would take advantage of this weather window and choosing to climb England's highest mountain during the Summer holidays meant it was going to be a busy ascent especially as I was walking the popular Brown Tongue route from Wasdale Head but I had a plan to alleviate this where I'd leave the crowds at Hollow Stones before climbing steeply towards the Mickledore ridge, an ascent flanked by some of Lakeland's best rock scenery.

From Mickledore I'll ascend the summit shoulder while taking in the breathtaking views over Great Moss before re-joining the crowds on England's highest ground. After taking in the views I descend to Lingmell Col before ascending steadily onto Lingmell summit where the view opens out over Piers Gill onto the Corridor Route, Broad Crag, Great End, Sty Head and Great Gable before descending Lingmell's steep West ridge under late afternoon sunshine.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells


It does a man good to realise his own insignificance in the general scheme of things, and this is his experience here.


Ascent: 3,804 Feet - 1,160 Metres
Wainwrights: 2, Scafell Pike - Lingmell
Weather: Partly Cloudy Early PM - Turning Warm and Brighter Later. Highs of 22°C Lows of 21°C
Parking: Car Park, Wasdale Head
Area: Southern
Miles: 6
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Wasdale Head - Down-in-the-Dale - Lingmell Beck - Lingmell Gill - Brown Tongue - Hollow Stones - Mickledore - Scafell Pike - Lingmell Col - Lingmell - Lingmell Crag - Goat Crags - Down-in-the-Dale - Lingmell Beck - Wasdale Head

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA20 1EX
Grid Reference: NY 186 708
Notes: Probably one of the more popular car parks in Lakeland due to the proximity to Scafell Pike meaning that the car park at Wasdale Head is very popular all year around and is large enough to accommodate around forty cars and mini buses. Despite its popularity you may only struggle to park here during mid Summer or late into the afternoon.


Map and Photo Gallery


Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell high above Wasdale Head.
It wasn't my intention to stop at Wast Water on my way to Wasdale Head but I couldn't resist this view of Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell. It's been a cloudy morning for the highest peaks which was set to lift around early afternoon which is anytime now.

Yewbarrow seen with a cloud topped Great Gable.
Taken from a second unscheduled stop!

Lingmell, Scafell Pike and Scafell from Wast Water.
Unresistable views of Lingmell and the Scafell's from a third stop from the shores of Wast Water. The cloud is looking extensive but I have every trust in the forecast given for this afternoons conditions.

Great Gable from Wasdale Head 13:00pm 21°C
I had to circle the car park a couple of times then soon found a space not far from the Old School building. Wasdale Head was as busy as I'd seen it in a long time with groups of walkers preparing to leave no doubt most bound for Scafell Pike. Kitting up was done quickly only having to add my walking boots whilst my Rab windproof gets packed in my pack just in case I might need it later.

A cloud topped Pillar seen above Wasdale Head Inn.
After a quick kit check I lock the car and headed towards the stone wall at the far end of the car park from where I took this, and the previous photo's then retraced my footsteps passing my car again before taking a left through the field towards the footbridge over Lingmell Beck.

Breaking skies above Kirk Fell and Great Gable.
With the old School building seen left and Lingmell House seen beyond.

Brown Tongue from Lingmell Gill.
Having crossed the footbridge over Lingmell Beck I joined the path on the steep flank of Lingmell finding the groups who had left Wasdale Head earlier up ahead who I caught up. Here the path is narrow and rocky and passing people who are in conversation was proving a little tricky at a point when I felt like I could have actually joined in! I managed to wrangle my way around the groups which in the afternoon heat picked at my reserves very early but at least I had broken away soon finding myself looking up on Brown Tongue while Scafell Pike was still immersed in cloud.

Brown Tongue is up ahead with Scafell Pike summit still in cloud.
Within the shade of Lingmell and Green How I crossed Lingmell Gill at the stepping stones (seen by the trees centre left) and started the steady ascent of Brown Tongue. By now I had no-one behind me and the only people I would pass would be those on their way down which I couldn't help feel sorry for having missed out on the views from the summit which is still below cloud.

Looking back on Wast Water, IIIgill Head, Buckbarrow, Middle Fell and Yewbarrow from Brown Tongue.

Ascending Brown Tongue felt tougher than it should under the heat of the afternoon sun but I have always enjoyed this ascent and today was no different. My head tends to sweat a lot so after years of complaining and doing nothing about it today I have brought along a wash cloth instead of using the front of my T-shirt which worked wonders leaving the ascent that bit more comfortable with the added touch of the smell of fabric softener which reminded me of home!

Simple and very effective.

Mickledore is ahead seen centre with Pikes Crag and Pulpit Rock seen left and Scafell Crag over on the right.
I left the crowds and forked right at the head of Brown Tongue, not before chatting with a couple from Switzerland who were ascending Scafell Pike for the first time. I continued along the path now flanked by Scafell Crag to my right at a point when it started to cloud over and in some sections of the path I was passing through 'cold spots' where I could see my own breath, blimey I reckon now would be a good time to add an extra layer.

Looking across Hollow Stones towards Lingmell and Goats Crags.
I continue in ascent passing the 'Big Boulder' while up ahead blue skies start to appear through the lifting cloud.

Looking over Hollow Stones towards the top of Brown Tongue, Lingmell, Yewbarrow, Seatallan, Haycock, Red Pike, Scoat Fell and Pillar.
I'm now on the scree path directly below Mickledore, to tackle the scree I take it slow and tread carefully trying to reduce the 'one step up two steps back effect' which made my ascent slow but effective. From the Mickledore ridge I am passed by this couple in descent and we stop for a quick chat; our conversation focusing mainly on how busy it was and how this route provided a break from the crowds, not just that I thought, but also an excellent way to gain the summit by.

Mosedale seen over Lingmell.

Pulpit Rock from the scree below Mickledore.

Ascending towards Mickledore.
Here the scree path splits into two, the more obvious steers left before the final ascent onto the ridge via a short but steep narrow gully. After recent rains I found the rock wet underfoot meaning extra care in trusted footings was required.

Scafell Pike from Mickledore.

Tempted by the strong sunlight I reached Mickledore by which time I was overheating and in desperate need to lose the layer I'd added below. I heard voices and two young girls appeared from the area around the Stretcher Box, we greet with a Hi as I de-layer and we soon break into conversation. It turns out they are from Norway and have gained Mickeldore from Great Moss/Eskdale and were asking the best route to Lord's Rake, I advised them to cross Mickledore first then to descend down onto Rake's Progress (their original intention was to descend the way I had just come up) but this was advised against.

We chatted for a while and they asked where I was from - I'm guessing Wigan isn't very well heard of in Norway so Manchester had to do (close enough as I work there) I had total admiration for these two explorers after all it's not very often you would find two young girls from another country climbing England's highest peak by one of the least accessible routes.

Broad Stand/Sca Fell from the Stretcher Box, Mickledore.

Great Moss from Mickledore.
With views extending as far south as Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag.

Looking back over Mickledor towards Broad Stand/Sca Fell.

It was at this point was my ascent interrupted by the noise of a dog barking from around the location of Fox's Tarn which is the shaded area in the left of the photo, it wasn't so much of a bark but a constant 'yap' which grew my attention to look further, I had spotted a sheep being chased by a small dog brown(ish) in colour and although the sheep didn't appear to be in any harm cleverly out running the dog my concern was for how much ground this dog had descended with no owner in sight which I estimated to be around 300ft from where I first saw the dog to its last location.

Anyone who knows me will know the love I have for all dogs and right now my stomach was churning in knots. With still no sign of the owner the barking stopped but I could still see the sheep but no dog now followed by the owners screams; CHARLIE, CHARLIE, CHARLIE !! I do not know the fate of the dog or if the owner got it back, I do hope so but this is one reason why you should never take your dog of its lead when not familiar with sheep especially in mountainous surroundings.

Scafell Pike summit.
I tried not to let the incident bother me and ruin the rest of my walk but it just niggled there in the pit of my stomach. I keep positive and put the incident behind me and continued my ascent crossing the boulder-some summit shoulder and arrived at the trig point which I tap with the tip of my walking pole. The summit is busy with people and chatter and while I have the views I descend slightly in the direction of Broad Crag Col.

Broad Crag, III Crag and Great End from Scafell Pike.
An ascent of III Crag followed by Broad Crag was hugely tempting, in fact I was letting my feet do my thinking descending too far before doing some rough time calculations' I figured time would be against me taking in the two and a half hour journey to get home so I sat down and watching the changing light pass over the summits.

To the North, Great Gable, Green Gable and Base Brown seen over Sty Head and Styhead Tarn.
With Gillercomb Head, High Spy and Dale Head beyond while in the distance, the Grasmoor and Skiddaw groups.


A few more minutes before I head back towards the summit.

Lingmell, Great Gable and Mosedale seen over Lingmell Col.
I re-ascend slightly while taking a line towards the cairned path Lingmell Col bound, it is here I pass the couple from Switzerland again who ask "how far?" ten minutes I smile. By now it's really starting to warm up and more people are taking breaks than are on thier feet and who could blame them.

Crossing Lingmel Col.
Having descending as far as the large cairn at Lingmel Col I left the path and followed a grassy narrow trod, passed over a section of broken wall and started the short yet steady ascent on Lingmell.

Lingmell summit cairn.

Prior to reaching the summit I spotted three walkers heading towards the top of Goat Crags, these would have been the same people I'd seen from Scafell Pike earlier and now it appears I have the summit to myself.


Great End, Seathwaite Fell and Glaramara from Lingmell summit.
With Sty Head and Styhead Tarn below with the faint outline of The Corridor Route seen over on the right.

From Lingmell I look back on Broad Crag, Broad Crag Col and Scafell Pike with The Corridor Route seen below.
In those few moments while back on Scafell Pike where I was thinking of including III Crag and Broad Crag, well Broad Crag Col would have been my choice of descent via the scree before descending further onto the Corridor Route, it's a steep but navigable route with care offering great views over Piers Gill but sadly there wasn't enough time today.

Broad Crag, Round How and Great End from Lingmell.
Time to have a wander and maybe a spot of late lunch on Lingmell Crag.

Great Gable and Kirk Fell from the top of Lingmell Crag.
I traverse north towards the spectacular stone column which appears to have been rebuilt after my last visit which was such a welcome site. I drop below the column to take shelter from the summit breeze and break out a late lunch while taking in the view over Great Gable and Sty Head.

The view over Gavel Neese (Great Gable) towards Kirk Fell, Pillar and Scoat Fell.
I could think of worst lunch spots!!

Great Gable and Great Napes.
I'm yet to ascend Great Gable via Great Hell Gate seen to the right of The Napes, Great, and Little Hell Gate, seen to the left can be accessed via the South Traverse seen horizontally below Great Napes, it appears unnavigable but there is a path accessed from both Gavel Neese and Sty Head, although it isn't for the faint hearted. I'm hoping by the end of Summer I'll have ascended by Great Gable by Great Hell Gate, that's if it ever stops raining that is.

The view over Sty Head again this time from Lingmell Crag.

Mosedale from Lingmell Crag summit.

With my lunch stop over I re-shouldered and made my way off the summit shoulder via a narrow grassy trod towards the top of Goat Crags as I took sight of some really clear views of the Scafells.

Scafell Pike from Lingmell.
With Pulpit Rock seen right.

Scafell Pike and Sca Fell from Lingmell.
In this photo you can see the path I ascended Mickledore earlier over on the far right while the main path from Wasdale Head passes above Hollow Stones in the foreground.


Scafell Pike and Mickledore.
What a gloriously clear afternoon it's turning out to be, I guess walking so late into the day does have its advantages!

Scafell Pike, Mickledore, Sca Fell and Brown Tongue from the descent of Lingmell.
This photo shows my route onto Mickledore much clearer now. What a place.

Sun quenched Wast Water from the descent of Lingmell.
With IIIgill Head on the left and Buckbarrow, Middle Fell and Yewbarrow on the right

Looking back up the nose of Lingmell.
Time to kick my feet into the backs of my boots and start the short walk back to Wasdale Head.

Heading back to Wasdale Head with views of Yewbarrow's North Top, Kirk Fell and Pillar.

Great Gable from Wasdale Head 17:30pm

With a hot afternoon sun on my back I made my way back to Wasdale Head this time I had the path to myself accompanied by the glorious views into Mosedale and its surrounding peaks. Wasdale Head was still busy minus a few cars leaving here and there and just as I had earlier I made my way to the far end of the car park to capture this photo of Great Gable domineering the head the Wasdale valley. I make my way back to my car and drop the windows to let the heat escape while a young girl sits on the bonnet of the car parked next to mine. I kit down, boots off first I run my hand tightly over the soles of my feet easing away the miles of pressure.

Before leaving I sit on the edge of my boot absorbing the view, the sun is beating down and by this time tomorrow it'll be blowing a gale while the rain lashes in sideways which is hard to digest as I sit here in the tranquil of a Lakeland Summer evening.

Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell.


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