Guide to Scrambling Grades

Scrambling routes offer exciting new ways to the top of many hills and mountains if youknow where to find them you can choose to leave the main trail behind and explore. Many guidebooks are now available which describe the best ways to scramble up ghylls, buttresses and ridges on the fells; if you are choosing a route from a guidebook  it is important to fully understand the grading system before attempting a route for the first time, so here is a quick overview of the grades.

Grade 1 scrambles are usually fairly straightforward to follow and all difficulties can be avoided. Be aware that on some ridges paths, that have appeared to avoid the perceived harder sections, can in fact lead you into worse ground such as loose gullies.

Grade 2 scrambles will be on steeper and more exposed ground. Choosing the best line and route finding becomes more important and the opportunity for escape routes may be limited.

Grade 3 scrambles often require the use of a rope to protect the steepest sections.  If you are not an experienced scrambler it would be a good idea to hire a guide for this level of scramble.


The boundary between harder scrambles and easy rock climbs can be blurred. Some scrambling guide books now offer a grade 4 or 3S and often the same routes will be in climbing guide books and graded moderate or even difficult in some cases. These routes require a competent leader who can manage any required ropework safely and look after the rest of the party.


In addition to grading the difficulty of scrambles a star system is used to describe the quality of the route. 3 star (***) routes offer the best and most continuous scrambling over good quality rock.

If you would like to learn more about scrambling grades or how to tackle harder scrambles then come on our Introduction to Scrambling course or book aprivate guided day


Published 16/03/2016