A Guide to the View from Scafell Pike

by Chris Jesty

incorporating sketches by A. Wainwright

a 360-degree panorama on two sheets, each printed on both sides,

with 63 paragraphs of incidental information

Sheet 1

START HERE. If you have difficulty finding which part of the view is on which sheet, stand on the top of the summit cairn facing the triangulation column. The view in front of you is that portrayed on Sheet 4. The view behind you is shown on Sheet 2, which is on the back of Sheet 4. The view to your left is on Sheet 3, and that to your right is on Sheet 1.

The Glenderaterra Valley lies along a geological fault

The level area of Upper Borrowdale was formed by the silting up of a lake.

For thirty degrees the Helvellyn and Cross Fell ranges march together in the view. In some places the farther range may be seen over the top of the nearer one. In other places it is completely obscured by it. The northernmost members of the two ridges – Clough Head and Cold Fell – are roughly in line when seen from Scafell Pike. So also are Helvellyn and Cross Fell themselves.

The summit of Cross Fell is 2930 feet above sea level. This is the highest point in England that is not in the Lake District.

The prominence of the path from Wythburn to Helvellyn at this distance demonstrates the popularity of Helvellyn.

The private road leading to the radar station on Great Dun Fell (2780 feet) is the highest road in Britain. Great Dun Fell and Little Dun Fell are part of the Moor House Nature Reserve.

All the eight peaks of the Fairfield Horseshoe are visible from Scafell Pike. They are (farther limb) Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike and Low Pike and (nearer limb) Fairfield, Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar.

The large black birds frequently seen on Scafell Pike are ravens.

‘High Street’ may seem at first glance to be an inappropriate name for a mountain, for anything less like a town high street would be hard to imagine. But the ‘street’ is a Roman road that runs along the top of the hill, and ‘high’ it undoubtedly is. It is the many town high streets on level ground that are inappropriately named.

Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle are two of the Langdale Pikes.


Sheet 2

Very roughly, it can be said that the odds against seeing a place double about every 10 miles or 20 km, but hills that are only 20 or 30 miles away may be rarely visible if they are only 2 or 3 miles nearer than the background. The outlines drawn here should be regarded as a composite picture built up from a number of different observations.

Windermere is ten miles long. It is the largest lake in England. The triangular white specks on the lake are sailing boats. The long thin white specks are the ‘steamers’.

Wray Castle, visible through a telescope or a pair of binoculars, is a romantic cluster of towers of various sizes. It is now used as a training school for merchant navy radio officers. The key to its position is the inlet (White Cross Bay) on the far side of the lake

55% of the time the entire view is obscured by cloud.

The Forest of Bowland (pronounced Bolland) is a Designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is not a forest of trees, but an upland area.

Like its namesake on the far side of the view, Mosedale is a U-shaped glaciated valley.

On June 22nd/23rd 1975 Joss Naylor climbed 72 Lakeland peaks over 2000 feet in 24 hours. This achievement is recorded in the Guiness Book of Records and must surely stand for all time. To anyone who has attempted to climb 4 or 5 peaks in a day it is simply mind-boggling.

The predominant plant in the summit area is the woolly-haired moss.

Scafell Pike was climbed by William Wordsworth on October 7th, 1818.

There is a parallel between the study of mountain views and the study of the mind, for however good the visibility there are always distant places that are so faint they can hardly be seen; and however clearly one can see things in one’s mind, there are always vague concepts in the back of the mind that can’t be completely grasped.

Blackpool Tower is visible to the naked eye in daylight, silhouetted against the Ribble Estuary. It is 520 feet high and 45 miles away.

The actual stone walls of the Roman fort are visible, though restored. The two gaps in the walls are the north-east gateway (on the left) and the north-west gateway (on the right).

Foulney Island and South End Haws (part of the Isle of Walney) are local nature reserves.

Herd House Moss is a raised peat bog, recognisable by its brown colour. It is crossed by the Furness Railway.


Sheet 3

Askam Pier was built from the slag from disused iron works.

The T-shaped structures occasionally visible in Barrow are the travelling cranes in Vickers Shipbuilding Yard. Through a telescope or a pair of binoculars a smaller crane may be seen travelling along the top of one of the larger ones.

The Isle of Walney originated as an esker (a long narrow ridge deposited by a sub-glacial river), but now takes the form of an offshore bar.


Sheet 4

The small protruberance visible to the naked eye on the summit of Seatallan is a tumulus (a prehistoric burial cairn).

At night the lights of ships may be seen moving slowly across the sea. Lighthouses flash at regular intervals. Cars’ Headlights flash whenever a road takes a turn towards Scafell Pike. These can even be seen on the Isle of Man. And the lights of towns are amazingly colourful.

Like its namesake on the far side of the view, Mosedale is a U-shaped glaciated valley.



First of all, of course, I must thank Mr A. Wainwright, who, by sketching in the mountains of the Lake District, has brought to life what would otherwise have been a dull outline drawing.

I should also like to thank Mr Roderick Fyffe, who allowed me to use his camera on a very clear day when I couldn’t get mine to work, and the many people who have stopped to give me a lift on the road between Gosforth and Wasdale Head. In their small way they have all contributed to the production of this panorama.


1980 reprint

Two weeks after the first copies of the first edition appeared in the shops I received a letter from Tom Phillips of Maidstone Mountaineering Club saying that he had seen the Mountains of Mourne from Scafell Pike and identified them with the aid of the panorama.


The panoramas that I produced for Scafell Pike can be viewed here.