Where is this walk?

Scafell from the South

April 4, 2019

The most unusual approach is to tackle Scafell from the south. It is also the best. The walk through and climb out of Eskdale is lovely, the wide ridge direct and the return via the lonely waters of Burnmoor Tarn nice and relaxing. .

The Walk

I was not overly surprised to find that for every person on the top of Scafell fifteen climbed the nearby Scafell Pike. Clearly Scafell Pike is higher but the main reason is surely down to the geographic location of  Scafell. The most popular way of climbing Scafell is via Scafell Pike from Borrowdale. This a long drag and potentially dangerous. The crossing between the two Scafells notorious. Alternatively there is a steep and unremitting slog from Wasdale Head. Best to travel to Eskdale and enjoy the long ridge over Slight Side from Eskdale.

Eskdale is a lovely valley. It is almost unspoilt and including some of the finest of Lakeland scenery. There are two alternate routes up (see sketch map, the GPX is via Slight Side). Either leave the valley early and head for Slight Side or continue up the valley in to the Upper Esk and a steep climb towards Scafell. Both are good, both have challenging route finding. Rather than returning via the same route I visited Burnmoor Tarn for the first time and ended by passing the beautifully situated Eel Tarn. I passed nobody once I left the summit.

It really is a steep and unremitting climb up to Foxes Tarn and beyond from the Upper Esk. Better to explore the Upper Esk without climbing Scafell.


This is a walk for sturdy walking boots. I ended up with wet and sore feet from my lighter weight option!

Navigation Tips for Scafell from the south

This can be confusing in the cloud. The distances are long so it will take a while if you make a mistake to realise it. There are two main challenges. On the descent make sure you are on the correct path at the start. Head west on loose rock but only pick the path up as you bear south west. The loose rock causes the confusion as the path initially is not obvious.

The second challenge becomes obvious if you take the option to climb from Upper Eskdale. It will take you longer than anticipated as the ground is rough and windy. Also look carefully for the path to Foxes Tarn at 700 metres. Miss it and carry up the gill and you end at the foot of Broad Stand. Not good.

  • JoIsis says:

    Hello all.

    I am going to do this in a few weeks, just wondered how long it took you all from start to finish? Am I right in estimating 8 hours?

    • Jonathan says:

      Depends how quickly you walk but 8 hours should be more than plenty. I would bet you beat this time!

  • Bob says:

    I’m trying to find a route to Scafell and this one looks good to me, is the comment from March 4th now sorted.

    • Jonathan says:

      No problems on this route now, I still recommend my route rather than Jackies reversal but either are great. The best route up Scafell.

  • Jackie says:

    Took the reverse walk up from The Boot Inn, Boot to Scafell, had the mountain all to ourselves until we reached the summit. It was a slightly scrambly walk but fantastically rewarding. Would recommend this walk.

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