The UK’s top Scrambling paradises

19 May 2020
3 min

When you think of pointy mountains, the Alps probably springs to mind however don’t panic, we have plenty of them here in Britain.

We have chosen some of our favourite destinations to go for a weekend of nerve -testing scrambling.

Scrambling is often described as the middle activity between hill walking and rock climbing, anything where you must use your hands to make upward progress or the terrain is simply very exposed. For those with sure footing and a head for heights, scrambling can offer the best of both worlds by combining the adrenaline buzz of climbing with the unfettered freedom of hill walking.

The geology of Britain makes it one of the best places in the world for scrambling. Our mountains are relatively small, but they cut quickly to the chase, allowing you to get amid airy arêtes, rocky ridges, and gaping gullies within a short time of leaving civilisation.

Ben Nevis, West Highlands

Ben Nevis is renowned for its two ways to climb the mountain, one way to approach as a climber from the fearsome North Face, or the other to trudge up with the other hundred tourists.

However, looking a little closer exposes opportunity for a scramblers dream, the grey area between the two.

At first glance it might seem there are only two ways to climb Ben Nevis; to trudge with the tourists up the Mountain Track to the summit, or approach the mountain as a climber from the other side via the fearsome North Face. But closer inspection reveals a grey area between the two and some incredible scrambling opportunities.

Glen Coe, West Highlands

Amazement and sheer freight go hand in hand on this mountain, the north east face of the much-photographed Buachaille Etive Mor, a perfect pyramid of sheer mountain meanness towering above Rannoch Moor, is unassailable at first glance but on closer examination discloses Curved Ridge, an adrenaline-pumping Grade 3 scramble. Then there is the Aonach Eagach, six miles of twisting dagger-edge ridge representative of one of the most inspiring mountain days you can have, almost anywhere on earth.

Absolutely nothing is for the faint hearted on Glen Coe, but the prize for taking on those mountain monsters are experiences that will stay with you forever.

Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia

The glacier- carved amphitheatre of Cwm Idwal, the surreal spiky landscape of the Glyders and – most of all – the unreal Tryfan represent the kind of sublime splendour you might expect to find at much higher altitudes in other countries, but here in North Wales you can wander into them within minutes of leaving the A5 lay-by.

It would be easy to believe Tryfan could have been purpose-built for scrambling, an angular fastness of split and shattered rhyolite and one of the few mountains in Wales with no way up it that does not involve placing your hands-on rock. The North Ridge is the classic but there are also so many more routes around the mountain. Bristly Ridge on neighbouring Glyder Fach is another archetypal Snowdonia scramble, though perhaps a bit more challenging than Grade 1 suggests.