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5 Epic Scrambles In The Lake District

12 May 2021
5 Epic Scrambles In The Lake District

Photo: Jonny Gios/Unsplash

A step up from hiking but not quite rock climbing, scrambling sits between the two activities, requiring the use of both your hands and feet when walking up steep terrain or along a ridge. The Lake District has numerous scrambling routes that offer something for anyone from beginner to pro. So, if you’re ready to start exploring the various scrambling opportunities the Lakes have to offer, here are five epic routes of varying grades that you need to add to your bucket list.

Scrambling routes are graded based on their difficulty, which is determined by the gradient and terrain. They range from Grade 1, which involves both your hands and feet to ascend but doesn’t require specialist equipment, to Grade 3, which includes steep, more technical sections that may require additional safety measures such as ropes, harnesses, and helmets.

Jack's Rake, Pavey Ark

Jack's Rake

"Looking down Jack's Rake to Stickle Tarn", by Peer Lawther, licensed under CC BY 2.0

This classic Lake District Grade 1 scramble takes you on a steep climb up Pavey Ark in Langdale Valley. Although you have the rock hugging you on the right throughout the scramble, the route can feel quite intimidating to inexperienced scramblers due to the exposure and steep drop to the left. However, as long as you are careful and avoid the route in wet weather, the fantastic views are worth it. On the way to the top, you will also come across Gwynne’s Chimney, which is an exhilarating experience for scramblers of all abilities.

Jack’s Rake is a popular scramble, and it's not unusual to see a line of people going up the diagonal route as you approach Pavey Ark, especially during peak times. Regardless of the high potential of large crowds, this route is an enjoyable challenge that every scrambler should tick off their list.

Striding Edge & Swirral Edge, Helvellyn

Striding Edge

Photo: Jonny Gios/Unsplash

These two famous ridges need no introduction, but you can’t talk about epic scrambles in the Lakes without mentioning the Striding Edge & Swirral Edge route up Helvellyn. Whether you start from the Striding or Swirral side of the mountain, this Grade 1 scramble is a relatively straightforward route with exceptional views. It’s no wonder why hillwalkers come back to it time and time again.

Although the ridges are narrow and partially exposed, this scramble is well-suited to beginners because there are plenty of opportunities to go around the trickiest sections and find the route that feels the most comfortable.

Halls Fell Ridge & Sharp Edge, Blencathra

Sharp Edge

"Ants Up Sharp Edge", by Peer Lawther, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Halls Fell Ridge and Sharp Edge offer a thrilling route up and down Blencathra, one of the most northern hills in all of Lake District. Looks are deceptive when it comes to Blencathra, as it may seem like any ordinary fell from afar, but the scramble up to the summit is often cited as one of the best ridge walks in the entire national park. This route’s only letdown is its relatively short length of around five miles.

You have the choice of ascending via Sharp Edge and descending via Halls Fell or vice versa. What may help you decide which route is best suited to your ability is to keep in mind that Sharp Edge is the narrowest walkable ridge and the most challenging Grade 1 scramble in the Lakes. Halls Fell is the more beginner-friendly option, and there is an easier route down if you don’t feel up for Sharp Edge afterwards.

Cockly Pike Ridge, Ill Crag & Scafell Pike

Scafell Range

"Scafell Range", by John Johnston, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Perfect for anyone who enjoys a long day in the mountains, summiting Ill Crag and Scafell Pike via Cockly Pike Ridge offers a less-crowded route up the UK’s highest peak. The ridge is located on the southern face of Ill Crag, bypassing the famously difficult Grade 3 scramble on the south-east slope. Although Cockly Pike Ridge is classed as a Grade 1 route, it is a long continuous scramble, and there’s no obvious way to climb up its towering boulders. Every scrambler gets to create their own route, which allows you to make the scramble just as challenging as you wish.

Pinnacle Ridge, St Sunday Crag

Pinnacle Ridge

Photo: Zak from our Manchester store, taken by Mark Kendall

If you’re looking to progress to a more challenging scramble, the Grade 3 Pinnacle Ridge offers a technical and scenic route up St Sunday Crag in the Grisedale Valley. It’s the perfect introduction to Grade 3 routes for any hillwalker that wishes to push their scrambling grade. Although climbing equipment and the presence of an experienced scrambler are strongly recommended for beginners on Pinnacle Ridge, the most difficult aspect of this route is not necessarily the ascent but finding its starting point.

Once you get to the top of the famous pinnacles, there are many fantastic photo opportunities that you don’t want to miss.

About the Author:

Iida Ruokojärvi - Outdoor Expert

Iida grew up in Finland where she was introduced to the outdoors at a very young age. Snowboarding has become second nature to her despite now living in a less snowy part of the world. Since moving to the UK, she rediscovered her love for hiking and continues to explore the British mountains and beyond.

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