Scafell Pike

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Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike.JPG
Scafell Pike viewed from Wastwater
Elevation 978 m (3,209 ft)
Prominence 912 m (2,992 ft)
Ranked 13th in British Isles
Listing Marilyn, Hewitt, Hardy, Wainwright, County Top, Nuttall, Country high point
Location
Scafell Pike is located in Lake District
Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike
Lake District National Park, Cumbria, England
Range Lake District, Southern Fells
OS grid NY215072
Coordinates 54°27′15.2″N 3°12′41.5″W / 54.454222°N 3.211528°W / 54.454222; -3.211528Coordinates: 54°27′15.2″N 3°12′41.5″W / 54.454222°N 3.211528°W / 54.454222; -3.211528
Topo map OS Landrangers 89, 90, Explorer OL6

Scafell Pike /ˈskɔːˈfɛl/ or /skɑːˈfɛl/[1] is the highest mountain in England, at an elevation of 978 metres (3,209 ft) above sea level. It is located in Lake District National Park, in Cumbria. It is part of the Southern Fells.

It is sometimes confused with the neighbouring Sca Fell, to which it is connected by the col of Mickledore. The name The Pikes of Scaw Fell, or just The Pikes,[2] was originally applied collectively to the peaks now known as Scafell Pike, Ill Crag and Broad Crag, which were considered subsidiary tops of Scafell (which looks higher from many angles). The application of the name Scafell Pike or Scawfell Pike was a compromise that occurred some time after 1818 but before 1856.[3][4] It was probably driven by the awkward fact that England's highest mountain did not have a name of its own - until Scafell Pike was measured early in the 19th century, many believed Helvellyn to be the highest mountain in England. Before this compromise was reached, the Ordnance Survey called Scafell Pike and Sca Fell Sca-Fell Higher Top and Sca-Fell Lower Top. The precise meaning of these names can be identified by the angle (3 degrees 3 minutes and 49.25 seconds) between the two summits measured from Dent ("Dent Hill") in the surveys made up to 1809, calculating the distance between the peaks and comparing this with a modern map.[5]

The old spelling Scawfell was in common use, except for on Ordnance Survey maps, until about 1920 - see Sca Fell for a fuller explanation. This may be the source of the belief that the OS made an error in naming this mountain - but it was simply a matter of spelling.

Scafell Pike was used in 1826 as a station in the Principal Triangulation of Britain by the Ordnance Survey when they fixed the relative positions of Britain and Ireland. Angles between Slieve Donard and Snowdon were taken from Scafell Pike, as were angles measured from stations on each of the other two mountains. Given the need for clear weather to achieve these very long range observations (111 miles to Slieve Donard), the Ordnance surveyors spent most of the summer camped on the respective mountain tops. Strangely, Scafell Pike was not used as a station in the earlier part of the Principal Triangulation (up to 1809) of Britain, even though Sca-Fell formed one corner of a Principal Triangle.

The summit was donated to the National Trust in 1919 by Lord Leconfield "in perpetual memory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom peace and right in the Great War 1914 - 1918 ...".[6][7] There is a more well-known war memorial on Great Gable, commemorating the members of the Fell & Rock Climbing Club.[8]

Scafell Pike is one of three British peaks climbed as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge, and is the highest ground for over 90 miles.

Listed summits of Scafell Pike
Name Grid ref Height Status
Ill Crag NY223073 935 m (3,068 ft) Hewitt, Nuttall
Broad Crag NY218075 934 m (3,064 ft) Hewitt, Nuttall
Middleboot Knotts NY213080 703 m (2,306 ft) Nuttall

Topography[edit]

Scafell Pike is one of a horseshoe of high fells, open to the south, surrounding the head of Eskdale, Cumbria. It stands on the western side of the cirque, with Sca Fell to the south and Great End to the north. This ridge forms the watershed between Eskdale and Wasdale, which lies to the west.

The narrowest definition of Scafell Pike begins at the ridge of Mickledore in the south, takes in the wide, stony summit area and ends at the next depression, Broad Crag Col, c. 920 m (3,030 ft). A more inclusive view also takes in two further tops: Broad Crag, 934 m (3,064 ft) and Ill Crag, 935 m (3,068 ft), the two being separated by Ill Crag Col. This is the position taken by most guidebooks.[9][10] North of Ill Crag is the more definite depression of Calf Cove at 850 m (2,800 ft), before the ridge climbs again to Great End.

Scafell Pike also has outliers on either side of the ridge. Lingmell, to the north west, is invariably regarded as a separate fell,[9][10] while Pen, 760 m (2,500 ft), a shapely summit above the Esk, is normally taken as a satellite of the Pike. Middleboot Knotts is a further top lying on the Wasdale slopes of Broad Crag, which is listed as a Nuttall.

The summit of Scafell Pike, seen from neighbouring Broad Crag

The rough summit plateau is fringed by crags on all sides with, Pikes Crag and Dropping Crag above Wasdale and Rough Crag to the east. Below Rough Crag and Pen is a further tier, named Dow Crag and Central Pillar on Ordnance Survey maps, although also known as Esk Buttress among climbers.[11] Esk Buttress and Pikes Crag are well known rock climbing venues.

Broad Crag Col is the source of Little Narrowcove Beck in the east and of Piers Gill in the west. The latter works its way around Lingmell to Wast Water through a spectacular ravine, one of the most impressive in the Lake District. It is treacherous in winter, as when it freezes over it creates an icy patch, with lethal exposure should you slip. Broad Crag is a small top with its principal face on the west and the smaller Green Crag looking down on Little Narrowcove. From Broad Crag, the ridge turns briefly east across Ill Crag Col and onto the shapely pyramidal summit of Ill Crag. Here, the main crags are on the Eskdale side, Ill Crag having little footing(clarify) in Wasdale.

Scafell Pike has a claim to the highest standing water in England, although Foxes Tarn on Sca Fell is of similar height. The water body in question is Broad Crag Tarn, which (confusingly) is on Scafell Pike proper, rather than Broad Crag. It lies at about 820 m (2,700 ft), a quarter of a mile south of the summit.[12]

The summit ridge from Ill Crag to Mickledore is notoriously stony, the surface being composed in many places of fields of boulders. Paths are not marked by the usual erosion of soil, but by coloured marks on the rock following the passage of many thousands of booted feet. The summits of Ill and Broad Crags are bypassed by the ridge path, but it leads unerringly to the highest point. This bears an Ordnance Survey triangulation column beside a massive cairn, not now in the best of repair, but unmistakable from any distance, still six feet high and much greater in diameter. A little distance away is the lower south peak.

Geology[edit]

Scafell Pike consists of igneous rock dating from the Ordovician; it is geologically part of the Borrowdale Volcanics. The summit plateau of Scafell Pike, and that of other neighbouring peaks, is covered with shattered rock debris which provides the highest altitude example of a summit boulder field in England.[13] The boulder field is thought to have been caused in part by weathering, such as frost action. Additional factors are also considered to be important, however opinion varies as to what these may be. Clifton Ward suggested that weathering with earthquakes as a secondary agent could be responsible, while J. E. Marr and R. A. Daly believed that earthquakes were unnecessary and suggested that frost action with other unspecified agents was more likely.[14] To the north of the summit are a number of high altitude gills which flow into Lingmell Beck. These are good examples in Cumbria for this type of gill and are also biologically important due to their species richness.[13]

Ascent routes[edit]

The ascent of the Pike is most often attempted from Wasdale Head. This is at the north end of Wastwater to the west of the Pike, and is at about 80 metres above sea level. There is a famous climber's hotel here, the Wasdale Head Inn, made popular in the Victorian period by Owen Glynne Jones and others. On summer weekends, crowds of people can be found attempting this steep but straightforward walk. An alternative ascent from Wasdale approaches up a hanging valley whose head is at Mickledore, which is itself ascended, before following the path from Sca Fell to the Pike.

A view of the classic corridor route taken from Sty Head Stretcher box

A more taxing, but scenically far superior, approach begins at Seathwaite Farm at the end of Borrowdale, proceeding via Styhead Tarn, then taking the Corridor Route (formerly known as the Guides Route), a delightful walk along the western flank of the Sca Fell massif with intimate views of the fell, before joining the route from Wasdale near the summit. The return journey can then be made along a high ridge, taking in any or all of the neighbouring summits of Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Allen Crags and Glaramara. An alternative route from Borrowdale, longer but perhaps less taxing than that via the Corridor Route, runs from Seathwaite via Grains Gill and the high pass of Esk Hause.

Scafell Pike (left) and Sca Fell (right), with the ridge of Lingmell in the foreground.

A further ascent may be made from Langdale. From the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel, the route proceeds up alongside Rossett Gill (which perhaps has a more fearsome reputation than it deserves), past Angle Tarn, and then onto Esk Hause before joining a rocky path to the summit. Energetic walkers can vary the return route by ascending Esk Pike and Bowfell from Esk Hause and then descend Bowfell via The Band. Another variant which avoids simply returning down Rossett Gill is to head north at the Angle Tarn, over Rossett Pike to join The Cumbrian Way, and descend via Stake Pass adding a mile to the walk. The total distance is about 21 kilometres. Esk Hause is also accessible from Styhead Tarn, making another possible route from Seathwaite.

Another ascent can be made from Eskdale, the longest and most arduous way up but it has some very fine scenery. The route follows the River Esk as far as the Great Moss boggy plateau; walkers then have a choice of ascending steeply up to Mickledore, the low ridge between Sca Fell and Scafell Pike, or following the Esk to its source at Esk Hause. A third possible route up from Great Moss is Little Narrowcove, a steep ascent which emerges onto the ridge a few hundred metres north-east of the summit.

The view from Scafell Pike[edit]

A panorama from the summit of Scafell Pike, August 2007
View from the summit of Scafell Pike

As the highest ground in England, Scafell Pike naturally has a very extensive view, ranging from the Mourne Mountains to Snowdonia. On a clear day, the following Marilyns can be seen from the summit.

Data from the first 'external link' below.

North[edit]

East[edit]

South[edit]

West[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daniel Jones, Everyman's English Pronouncing Dictionary (13th ed.), p. 421.
  2. ^ Dorothy Wordsworth's ascent of Scafell Pike, 1818, http://www.pastpresented.ukart.com/eskdale/wordsworth1.htm
  3. ^ pg 66, Thomas Fletcher Smith Jonathan Otley, Man of Lakeland, publ. Bookcase 2007
  4. ^ A complete guide to the English lakes. Archive.org. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  5. ^ Lieutenant-Colonel William Mudge, RA FRS and Captain Thomas Colby, RE An Account of the Trigonometrical Survey Carried on by Order of the Master-General of His Majesty's Ordnance in the Years 1800,1801, 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808 and 1809. publ.1811
  6. ^ Scafell Pike Summit, Cumbria - World War I Memorials and Monuments on. Waymarking.com. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  7. ^ UK National Inventory of War Memorials : Men of the Lake District. Ukniwm.org.uk. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  8. ^ Westaway, Jonathan. (1970-01-01) Mountains of Memory, Landscapes of Loss: Scafell Pike and Great Gable as War Memorials, 1919-1924 | Jonathan Westaway. Academia.edu. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  9. ^ a b Richards, Mark: Mid-Western Fells: Collins (2004): ISBN 0-00-711368-4
  10. ^ a b Wainwright, A. (1960). The Southern Fells. London: Francis Lincoln. ISBN 0-7112-2230-4. 
  11. ^ British Mountain Maps: Lake District: Harvey (2006): ISBN 1-85137-467-1
  12. ^ Blair, Don: Exploring Lakeland Tarns: Lakeland Manor Press (2003): ISBN 0-9543904-1-5
  13. ^ a b "Scafell Pikes SSSI citation sheet" (PDF). English Nature. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  14. ^ Hay, T (1942). "Physiographical Notes from Lakeland". The Geographical Journal (The Geographical Journal, Vol. 100, No. 4) 100 (4): 165–173. doi:10.2307/1788974. JSTOR 1788974. 

External links[edit]