The Lake District
Ghyll scrambles to classic ridge lines – there’s loads to have a go at in the Lakes at all grades.
- A day of grade 1 scrambling in the Langdale Valley – Perfect for a summer’s day and perfect for those of you staying in the area of Ambleside or Lake Windermere. This day has you start your scrambling within approximately 200m of the car park and takes you all the way to the top of Pavey Ark via the wonderful (and wet) Stickle Ghyll followed by the Lake’s most popular route – Jack’s Rake.
- Link three gems together and summit the Old Man of Coniston via Church Beck, The Bell and Levers Water Beck. Best done on a warmer day since this route has you wading knee deep in the mountain stream of Church Beck in the first hour of the adventure! Easy scrambling with some airy moments too on the Bell.
- Helvellyn via a traverse of the infamous Striding Edge – Another grade 1 classic with a reputation for being high and exposed. In reality its bark is far worse than its bite and so this is a great route to try out scrambling for the first time. Base point is Patterdale.
- Sharp Edge – the Lake Districts’ sharpest ridge and justly popular – grade 1. Combined with Hall’s Fell Ridge and a visit to the top of Blencathra this is a delightful and possibly shortish day out on the hill. While having an infamous reputation the route finding is easy and the technical scrambling rather short-lived making it another route ideal for the novice.
- Following a bit of huffing and puffing to get you to the route start – Pinnacle Ridge at grade 2/3 is a lovely introduction to scrambling at a more technical grade. A rope plus some slings, wires maybe and the know-how to use it will be handy for this gem that leads you to the top of St Sunday crag.
Snowdonia’s mountains offering wonderful rocky ridges, perfect for the aspiring mountaineer to get to grips with scrambling at all grades. Days out on the mountain in this national park often allow for the linking up of several routes in one day.
Price per group (1 to 4 people per leader) per day: from £160 per group for grade 1 scrambles and £180 per group (maximum 3) for grade 2 and 3 scrambling.
A few suggested routes to explore:
- Tryfan’s North ridge followed by an ascent of Bristly Ridge – possibly a long day out but it’s on par with having two Christmas days strung together (but without the grief!). Though both these routes are grade 1 they both need good route finding / reading, a steady head for heights plus good mountain sense.
- Summit Wales’ highest mountain: Snowdon via a traverse of Crib Goch. A fine day out and one that is far more exciting than the plod up the miners’ track often chosen by the masses. Route finding isn’t too tricky (stick to the top) but a good head for heights is essential as once you’re on top you’re committed! Steer clear of this scramble on wet, windy days …
- The Nantle Ridge – is a super day out for when the weather’s a bit clagged out or for those new to scrambling. The scrambling is spread out over the space of a fine walk. Whilst some exposure can’t be avoided the scrambling can be taken or left – so another great day for those trying this out for the first time.
- The Cneifion Arete – Snowdonia’s alpine scramble up a hugely exposed ridge of rock leading you nicely to the summit of Glyder Fawr. Be warned this is as hard as a scramble can get given the grade of 3S – or more likely a Diff climb for the first 30m or so. A rope, a selection of gear and the know how to use it will be essential for this wonderful route.
Further reading: Snowdonia offers so much more at all grades and the above routes provide just a snapshot of what’s available. More can be found in the Cicerone Press guide book Scrambles in Snowdonia. Graham Thompson’s Classic Mountain Scrambles in England and Wales has been a constant source of inspiration for me over the years.
This one web page couldn’t ever possibly hope to give this vast mountainous country any justice – but below are a few routes to consider.
Price per group (1 to 2 people per leader) per day: from £200 per group
A few suggested routes to explore:
- Summiting Ben Nevis is on many people’s agenda. But there’s no denying the huge envy you’ll have if you walk up the zig zags only to see a mountaineer pulling themselves off the crest of Tower Ridge to summit the same mountain. Be that mountaineer is our advice and climb Tower Ridge (though it is more a climb than a scramble). The Ledge Route at grade 2 is an easier option for climbing Britain’s highest peak.
- If you like Crib Goch in Snowdonia then you will love Glen Coe’s Aonach Eagach Ridge. A grade 2 classic – but with good route finding, a sound head for heights and a bit of experience, there should be no need to get a rope out.
- Also in Glen Coe is the wonderful Curved Ridge at grade 3 that leads you to the summit of the iconic Buachaille Etive Moor.
- Over in the Cairn Gorms, the Curved Ridge at grade 2 is a popular choice leading you to a selection of the Cairn Gorm 4000s peaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is scrambling?
Scrambling is using your hands on rock holds, as well as your feet, to ascend the steep ground of a mountain or hill. While you will need a head for heights, you won’t need any technical rock climbing skills or previous climbing experience. It is almost easier to describe what it isn’t. It isn’t just hill walking, it isn’t rock climbing. Scrambling lies in that grey area between hill walking and rock climbing. It is where you head out to the mountains equipped for a day of walking, but you look for lines to the tops that will allow for some clambering and climbing on the rocks – but hopefully nothing too hard.In short, scrambling is exciting, it’s airy, it’s exposed, it’s exhilarating, and most of all it’s simply a GREAT way to ascend a mountain. Read more here
I’ve never done this before: what’s a good route to start on?
First of all – if you are scared of heights – maybe you should start by doing our Overcome Your Fear of Heights Course. But if your head is good then the best scramble to start on would be Striding Edge, Helvellyn – if it feels too scary then you can just take the footpath alongside it!
Do I need strong upper body strength?
No you don’t – if you’re working your upper body that much you’re doing something wrong. On all our scrambling weekends and courses we always take time to show you the appropriate technique. But – you do usually need good hill legs – especially for the Scrambles 2 and 3 weekends.
Do I need any specialist kit for scrambling?
No you don’t – just wear what you would sensibly need for any mountain day. If you are doing the Scrambles 3 course you will need a helmet and harness – though these can be provided by us free of charge.
Where do we stay on these weekends?
Once we get your booking we will forward all information including where and when we meet up plus all local accommodation which you will need to book yourself and usually includes camping, the local YHA and all the B&Bs.
Scrambling is exciting, intoxicating and liberating. But it should also be noted that scrambling as with all outdoor pursuits, carries an inherent risk of injury and death, which cannot be eliminated. You must accept that although we do our utmost to reduce any risks to an acceptable level, there are chances of accidents happening. Furthermore plans may be changed on our weekends and courses to take into account local and environmental conditions such as the weather.