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Best of British: Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike by Ian Allington
For some years now the national "Three Peaks Challenge" in Britain has drawn participants from around the world who want to challenge themselves and raise money for charity. The Three Peaks Challenge involves participants scaling the 3 highest mountains of England, Scotland and Wales in quick succession. But what do you know about the three peaks that are the focal points of this gruelling challenge? In a series of articles called "Best of British", I want to explore these beautiful, yet refreshingly accessible, British mountains. Next up - Scafell Pike!

Skalli Fjall

One theory about the name Scafell is that it is derived from the Old Norse words "skalli fjall", meaning either the fell (mountain) with the shieling (traditional Shepherd's hut) or the fell with the bald summit!

It should come as no surprise that Scafell Pike has a bald summit when one considers its age. Estimations of its age date the formation of Scafell Pike to more than 450 million years ago, being part of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group of igneous rock formations. The Scafell Pike massif (a section of a planet's crust) includes the summits of Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Lingmell, Scafell and Scafell Pike. In days gone by, the geological features now known as Broad Cragg, Ill Crag and Scafell were known collectively as the Pikes of Scawfell, or simply "the Pikes".

Location Location Location

Scafell Pike is located in the Lake District National Park, in the county of Cumbria, and forms part of the Southern Fells (a group of extremely picturesque hills in the English Lake District including high rocky and moor type hills). To the north of the summit are numerous high altitude streams which flow down into Lingmell Beck. These streams are extremely biologically important due to their species richness. Scafell Pike is also home to the highest standing water in England, a small lake called Broad Crag Tarn. It stands at approximately 820 metres (2,700 ft) above sea level. Also, Wastwater, the deepest lake in England lies at the foot of Scafell Pike. It is three miles long, approximately half a mile wide, and a whopping 258 feet deep!

Touching Tribute

In 1919, the summit of Scafell Pike was donated to the National Trust by its then owner Charles Henry Wyndham, the 3rd Baron Leconfield. It was donated in honour of local Servicemen who had died fighting in World War 1, a lasting tribute "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".

Pike's Panorama

The height of Scafell Pike is a moderate 978 meters (3,210 feet) above sea level. As such it is the highest mountain in England, but it is the smallest of the "Three Peaks" (the highest mountains of England, Scotland and Wales). Snowdon is 1,085m (3,560ft) and Ben Nevis is 1,345m (4,413ft). From the top of Scafell Pike summit one can enjoy fantastic panoramic views. On a clear day peaks as far away as the Isle of Man, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are all visible. 

The shortest and quickest route up to the summit of Scafell Pike is the Wasdale Head route. This takes around 2-3 hours from Wasdale Head, which is about 80 metres above sea level. There is a climber's hotel at the starting point called the Wasdale Head Inn, which was made popular in the Victorian era by Owen Glynne Jones (Welsh Mountaineer and Author of "Rock-climbing in the English Lake District"). Climbing England's tallest mountain is extremely popular, and Wasdale Head is an extremely popular place from which to start the mission! According to the National Trust, over 100,000 people each year climb Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head.

Minty Mountain

If you are going to climb Scafell Pike you will need some snacks, and there are few energy boosting snacks better than Kendall Mint Cake! Made in the Lake District, this traditional minty fudgey stuff is both delicious and effective, and has been taken on many an Everest expedition. Ernest Shackleton took some for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay also scoffed some during the first successful climb to the top of Mount Everest in 1953!

For more information on the Three Peaks Challenge check out the official Three Peaks Challenge website

Bonus: Inspirational Quotes Posters

The Lake District National Park hosts some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK. It has inspired countless artists, poets and writers. With our inspirational quotes posters we too hope to inspire people to be creative and adventurous. Check out our Inspirational Quotes Collection and let us know what you think!

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