If there’s one thing that we have got plenty of here in the UK, it’s epic scrambling routes. If you’ve been spending the spring and summer months enjoying your walks up into the hills and mountains, it’s only natural that at some point you will want to start tackling some more challenging routes and cross the line between walking and scrambling.
Summer can be a great time to start tackling scrambling routes. The weather is better, there are longer daylight hours so you can take your time, and if the conditions are right you can wear thinner clothing that allows ease of movement.
If you’re up for the challenge, here are 5 scrambling routes to tackle this summer…
What is Scrambling?
Put simply, when your walk becomes so steep and rocky that you have to start using your hands for balance and grip – you’re scrambling.
Scrambling routes are usually graded between 1 and 3. A grade one scramble is at the easier end of the scale. They are usually suitable for people who have a bit of hillwalking experience and a good head for heights. At the other end of the scale, a grade 3 route, the line between scrambling and rock climbing becomes very blurry and these routes are only for the very experienced and will often involve ropes.
Helvellyn was voted as Britain’s favourite mountain in an ITV poll a few years ago. Although there are several routes up to the summit, it’s the grade one scramble over Striding Edge that has to be the very best of the bunch. Expect incredible views and a sense of exposure as you make your way over the sharp arete.
In good conditions this route is fairly beginner-friendly in terms of scrambling. But the route can be very steep in places and a good level of fitness and stamina is needed, alongside a good head for height and a solid amount of experience in mountain conditions.
This is one of the most popular scrambling routes in the UK so you can expect it to be busy on weekends and through the school holidays, but head up there for first light and you’ll discover exactly why so many people love to spend their time in the mountains. It’s absolutely incredible.
If Striding Edge is the most popular scrambling route in the UK then Snowdonia’s Crib Goch is a close second.
Although this is technically a grade one route too, it is notoriously exposed and is not for the faint-hearted. Of all the routes up to the Snowdon summit, this is by far the most challenging and rewarding. Expect breath-taking views, razor-edged ridgelines and an experience that you’ll never forget.
Crib Goch can be tackled as part of the Snowdon Horseshoe route, one of the best walks you can do anywhere in the UK. It’s a serious challenge but definitely one for the bucket list if you love mountains.
Ben Nevis CMD
Most people who head up to the summit of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, do so by taking the Pony Path. Sometimes known as the tourist route, it’s a path that winds its way up to the summit without ever really feeling as epic as you’d want the highest mountain in the UK to feel. However, the CMD route is a different story.
The Carn Mor Dearg Arete (abbreviated to CMD) is a spectacular ridgeline that will lead you up to the top of the Ben, far away from the crowds of ‘three-peakers’.
It’s a relatively easy-going scramble and is suitable for anyone with a good level of fitness and some good hiking experience. However, that’s not to say that this is easy and without risks. As with all scrambling routes, there is an element of risk and the weather can change very quickly in the mountain regions.
The classic cone shape of Tryfan makes it one of Snowdonia’s most recognisable mountains. There are several routes up to the summit and all of them involve an element of scrambling.
Snowdon takes the crown for being the most popular mountain in the national park for beginners, but Tryfan is where the locals in the know go. It was even voted as Britain’s favourite mountain by Trail Magazine.
There are many spectacular routes up to the summit, and it can be linked in with other nearby mountains, such as Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, to make one of the best day routes you can find anywhere.
The grade one scramble up Jack’s Rake to the summit of Pavey Ark is one of the Lake District’s best adventures. Alfred Wainwright described this route as ‘just about the limit for the ordinary fell walker’, and that makes it an exciting proposition for those that love to explore the Lake District.
The scramble cuts right across the face of Pavey Ark, rising sharply up to the summit. Along the way you can experience incredible views across the surrounding fells, and if you’re brave enough to look down you’ll see Stickle Tarn far below.
Although it is not a particularly technical scramble, it is steep and can often be slippery due to the water running off the mountain. It’s this that gives Jack’s Rake a bit of a reputation of being an accident blackspot. However, if you pick the right conditions, proceed with caution and take your time, you’ll have an incredible journey to the summit.