Scrambling Guide to the Lake District

There are hundreds of scrambles throughout the Lake District but these are some of our favourites. 

Grade 1 – Sharp Edge, Blencathra


Sharp Edge is an exhilarating knife-edge ridge leading from Scales Tarn to the summit of Blencathra and is a fine introduction to scrambling. The line can be varied but the best route lies right along the crest of the ridge. After a gentle introduction the exposure increases until an awkward move around a large block on a sloping ledge then a step down into a notch leads to a smooth slab that must be crossed before steeper scrambling to the top. Sharp Edge is best enjoyed in fine weather as it can remain extremely slippery even a couple of days after rain.


Grade 2 – Cam Crag Ridge, Langstrath


Cam Crag is tucked away in the hidden valley of Langstrath which feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the central Lake District. The walk in from Stonethwaite gives ample opportunity to stretch the legs before a steep pull up to the start of the scrambling where the best line sticks close to the right hand edge of the ridge. The ridge can be climbed in almost any conditions as all the steepest sections are easily avoided by moving left at any time onto grassy ledges. From the top the easiest descent is via Tarn at Leaves or the day can be extended with a visit to the top of Glaramara or further scrambling in Combe Ghyll (Intake Ridge or Dove’s Nest).


Grade 3 – Pinnacle Ridge, St. Sunday Crag


Pinnacle Ridge is a grade 3 scramble of three star quality and the traverse over the pinnacles close to the top of the ridge gives a real alpine feel to the route. The start can be hard to find but can be located by following the largest scree slope up to the base of the crag. The initial scrambling offers a variety of lines, the best being to the right, but all eventually lead to a steep corner which is climbed by a crack on the right where a nifty foot swap half way up solves the puzzle of how to reach the next hand holds. Care should be taken on the down climb of the third pinnacle as the foot holds are not easy to spot from above. The summit of St. Sunday Crag is a short walk away from the top of the route.


Langdale Link-up – Stickle Gill, Tarn Crag, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle


The many scrambles found throughout the Lake District are of the highest quality but often short lived; to enjoy a grand day out it is possible in some areas to link up several scrambles to form a longer route. In Langdale one such enchainment is to start up the side of Stickle Gill and then cross over to Tarn Crag which offers a choice of routes. A short walk round the edge of Stickle Tarn leads to Pavey Ark which has its own link up: going up Pavey’s Far East ridge, down Easy Gully and back up Jack’s Rake. The day can be finished with a scramble up the south or east ridges of Harrison Stickle to the summit.


Worth the walk – Ill Crag, Central Fells


Ill Crag lies at the head of Eskdale and with a vertical height gain of 300m it is home to the longest scrambling routes in the Lake District. One of our favourite mountain days and a route that made it into Trail magazines top 50 starts at Seathwaite Farm in Borrowdale and ascends Grain’s Ghyll to Esk Hause. A short descent into Upper Eskdale leads round to the base of the crag. The choice of route is between the grade 1 of Cockly Pike ridge or the grade 3 of the South-East face. Both are excellent and the choice will come down to your experience and the conditions on the day. From the top of Ill Crag it is not far to the summit of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain from where a descent of the Corridor Route to Styhead Tarn leads back to Seathwaite and tea and cakes all round.


If you are unsure about tackling any of these routes by yourself why not come on our Introduction to Scrambling course or book a private scrambling course on a date of your choice and let us guide you up.


Published 16/03/2016