In the UK we are lucky to have some of the most diverse scenery and landscapes. We are also lucky to have an amazing range of walking and hiking routes for all skill levels. If you are an experienced hiker, why not push yourself and attempt something a little more challenging? If you are looking for inspiration, we have gathered a list of the UKs scariest and most extreme hikes – sound like fun?
1. Welsh 3000, Snowdonia
Throughout the UK you can find various hiking and climbing challenges such as the Three Peaks challenge (Snowdon, Ben Nevis, and Scafell). However, possibly one of the toughest and extreme hiking challenges is the Welsh 3000 in Snowdonia National Park.
This epic trail covers a total distance of 24 miles which doesn’t sound too challenging. However, it also covers a total elevation of 9786ft and spans across 15 mountains! Yes 15, what’s more, all of these mountains are over 3000ft (hence the name).
The typical starting place of the Welsh 3000 is to ascend to the top of Mount Snowdon and travel along its spine to the neighbouring Foel-Fras peak. The entire route is packed full of epic scenery and on clear days you can even see across to the isle of Anglesey. Don’t let the scenery lull you, however – this is a tough hike and not for the feint-hearted!
2. Aonach Eagach, Glen Coe
Glen Coe is one of the most scenic regions in the Scottish Highlands. Its also home to one of the UKs scariest and most extreme hikes – Aonach Eagach. Aonach Eagach is a grade 2 ridge and is also held as the narrowest ridge in the United Kingdom! Not only that, but it also contains one of the hardest horizontal scrambles – all at a height of 3127ft!
If you have the guts and the determination to tackle this hike, you are rewarded with incredible views of the Glen Coe valley. However, you must be diligent as it is an accident hotspot and we would not recommend this route for novice hikers.
One of the most terrifying and exciting parts of the route is The Pinnacles – a stretch of exposed rock that covers some 500m. Here you must put your scrambling skills to the test for sure!
3. Broad Stand, Scafell
Scafell in itself could be listed as one of the UKs scariest and most extreme hikes. It is after all the highest mountain in the UK! However, this region of the Lake District is also home to Broad Stand, which takes hiking to a whole new level!
This route connects the two major mountains in the Lake District – Scafell and Scafell Pike and is part of the 2755ft Mickledore ridge. Broad Stand itself is an intense hike and scramble that is renowned for its danger and claims the lives of many hikers each year. Therefore, if you wish to tackle it, be prepared! A rope and some rudimentary climbing gear is advisable.
Also, it is advisable to avoid Broad Stand during winter as the snow and ice can be truly treacherous. Despite these warnings, the reward of completing this route will leave you exhilarated and accomplished!
4. Cairngorms 4000, Cairngorms
Taking it up a notch from the Wesh 3000, you can try something even more daunting in the Cairngorms 4000! Yes, this epic hiking trail takes you over five monros all at a height of 4000ft or greater! These are some of the tallest and mot impressive mountains in the UK and this two-day hike is of legendary proportions.
The five mountains are the epic Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochan Uaine, and Braeriach. The scenery here is like nowhere else in the UK and as you climb and scramble, you are treated to stunning mountainous plateaux landscapes.
Aviemore is the common starting point of the Caringorms 4000 and from here, you will tackle 21 miles of mountainous trails. The great thing about this extreme hike is that the mountains form a circle, and the overall 2400ft elevation gain is evenly distributed which could make it more bearable than other mountain treks.
5. Crib Goch, Snowdonia
We couldn’t create the list of the UK’s scariest and most extreme hikes without Crib Goch. Mount Snowdon is a tough cookie in its own right – it has a myriad of different walking trails, each of which have different lengths and difficulty levels. However, it is commonly held that the Crib Goch scramble is the toughest and potentially most dangerous route of them all.
This route starts from Pen y Pass and the total walking distance is only 4.94km. It also covers an ascent of 763m, and experienced hikers could complete this route in under 4-hours. So why is it considered to be tough and extreme?
Known as the red ridge, Crib Goch is scrambling route and some of the paths are incredibly narrow – if you attempt this you should be comfortable with heights and have excellent balance. Some people say that sections of it are like walking along the apex of a steep roof! If this doesn’t put you off, Crib Goch is an adventure for sure and one of the most extreme ways to ascend to the peak of Mount Snowdon.
6. Cape Wrath Trail, Scottish Highlands
Let’s forget about mountains for a while – why not embark on an epic 205-mile trek instead along the Cape Wrath Trail? This is known as one of the toughest and most challenging long-distance walks in Scotland and the UK!
One of the toughest aspects of this trail is that it’s unmarked! Therefore, you must have excellent navigational and map-reading skills if you hope to complete it. It starts at Fort William and continues along the western Scottish mainland.
As you hike, you will pass impressive landscapes and large sections of the trail are exposed to the elements – this is definitely not for the faint-hearted! Also, if you intend to complete this route in one stint, you must have ample supplies as it doesn’t really pass near any towns and you are really in the wilderness – this could be an epic wild camping and hiking experience.
7. Helvellyn Swirral Edge Route
Did you know that Helvellyn is the third tallest mountain in England? It is not quite in the top-five tallest mountains in the UK, but it is daunting nonetheless and contains the amazing and extreme Swirral Edge route.
The ridge covers approximately 6.36km, an ascent of 780m, and you can complete this route in under 3 hours. It travels through the amazing landscapes of the Lake District and much of the route is steady walking trails with a gentle ascent. However, large sections of the route are also narrow and you must scramble over razor-sharp edges and rocky ridges. The last section in particular is an epic scramble to the summit of Helvellyn.
The route starts at Glenridding and there is plenty of parking and amenities if you are planning a longer trip.
8. The Cullin Ridge Traverse
The Isle of Skye is home to some incredibly rugged and dramatic terrain. It stands to reason, therefore, that this island should contain one of the most demanding walking ridges in the UK – The Cullin Ridge Traverse. This is not the longest route at just 7.5 miles, however, it is virtually all scrambling and you are often pitted against changeable weather conditions.
It is an epic mountain trail and you could complete it in a day. This includes approximately 6-hours of ascents and descents from the mountain range. Also, it includes between 9-15 hours of intense scrambling. When we say intense, we mean it! Concentration is needed throughout the trek and it can be mentally demanding as well as physically draining – this is definitely NOT a route for novice hikers or climbers!
9. The South-West Coastal Path, Cornwall
To finish, we have included something a little different – the South-West Coastal Path in Cornwall. This may not have the most extreme trails but it does have extreme distance. In-fact, this route is the longest waymarked footpath in the UK and is a designated national trail.
In totality, the South-West Coastal Path covers 630 miles! It starts in Minehead in Somerset and continues to Poole Harbour in Dorset. It is often voted as the best walking route in the UK and it passes some amazing coastal landscapes and popular Cornish towns.
Why not set yourself a true challenge and aim to walk the entire length of this amazing coastal path? Many people do this or complete sections of the walking route for charitable causes.
Up Your Hiking Game and Take on One of These Extreme Hikes
If you feel that you need a challenge, or that you have reached the limit of your walking accomplishments, why not step it up a notch? Tackling one of the UKs scariest and most extreme hikes could be just the challenge you need!
If you attempt any of these routes, always prepare thoroughly. It is advisable to plan your route and research the route and its potential dangers thoroughly. Also, consider the weather conditions and the time of year that is best to attempt the hike. For example, some mountain routes are impassable or incredibly dangerous during the winter.
If you have any experience with these extreme hikes, please let us know! Also, if there are any other scary routes you have trodden, drop a comment!