Sca Fell

The summit of Sca Fell from Sca Fell.
The summit of Sca Fell from Sca Fell.

Where it it? 12 miles south of Keswick, Cumbria

In which area of outstanding natural beauty? The English Southern Lakes

How high is it?: 3,164′ or 964m

Of all the Lake District Giants, few other then Sca Fell could compete for the title of most rugged mountain. The entire massif which contains this mountain, its’ more illustrious and slightly higher brother next door (Scafell Pike)and the cols of Broad Crag and Ill Crag were formerly referred to as the “Pike of Sca Fell” it is only relatively recently, when men (and women) overcame their fear of these rugged, foreboding giants and laid their footsteps upon them, that the names evolved individually to represent each peaked summit and with experience, each peak gained a personality.

Sca Fell is a giant in every sense of the word, it plays host to the highest crag and the most notorious piece of rock (Broad Stand). There is no easy route to its’ apex, the Northern approach from Hollow Stones where the path splits from the path to Lingmell col could be the toughest thing that the Lake District could throw at a person. The steep grassy slopes up from Hardrigg Gill are energy sapping as this grass tends to stay wet for most of the year making the western approach not desirable. From the South East another wet path takes one from Great Moss, across the River Esk and splits into two routes one is the direct route to Broad Stand and the other takes you by Foxes Tarn – the smallest tarn in the Lake District. The route which passes Foxes tarn has been described as for masochists alone so that may imply that it may not be the nicest surface upon which one might walk!


The biggest frustration to any ascender of Sca Fell is the proximity of Scafell Pike – a strong man could launch a javelin from one summit to the other – perhaps a mythical strong man as between the two there is some distance, but to walk from one summit to the other entails the crossing of boulder fields and the distinct possibility of a mortal wound when falling off Broad Stand. Thus the routes that have grown to become as famous as their hosts have are legends of Lakeland:

  • Lords’ Rake
  • The West Wall Traverse (actually an off shoot of Lords’ Rake)
  • and once again Foxes Tarn.

As mentioned before Foxes Tarn route is painful to the feet and Lords’ Rake involves a certain risk of being crushed by the choking stone near its’ termination if on your time on the path it decides to finally dislodge from the position it has been in since 2001.

The advice is to stay frustrated and simply admire Sca Fell for its’ own sake, for this is a rugged and beautiful mountain with much varying of views than what can be experience on the bigger brothers uncomfortable boulder field. The views to the West as can be expected feature the vastness of Wastwater and further afield to the Irish Sea. To the immediate east lie Bowfell and the Crinkle Crags. The views in general are the full details of the surrounding summits, neighbouring outlying fell Slight Side tantalises with its’ proximity and a relatively simple walk it is too!

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