Scrambling – ideas, classic routes and how to get started safely
8 minute read
"Scrambling offers the perfect combination of continuous movement and unfettered climbing in a mountain environment" so says John Fleetwood, one of Britain's most accomplished runners and climbers. This page focusses on routes, ideas, expert opinion and guidance for all types of scrambles. Scrambling is a very basic activity that offers adventure, physical activity and mental concentration, and marks the transition from hill walking into climbing, with the use of rope recommended for more difficult grades. It comes with risks – YOU MUST NOT FALL OFF...
Article · 23 Jan 2021
What is scrambling?
The sport of scrambling is not new. In fact, the ascent of the majority of Alpine peaks by their normal route involves some scrambling. But what is it? John Fleetwood, author of Cicerone's Scrambles in the Lake District South, explains.
Article · 11 Mar 2021
What is gill scrambling?
Gill scrambling is something of an acquired taste that some find hideous and others consider to be the very best scrambling. Gill scrambling demands self-imposed rules for maximum enjoyment. John Fleetwood
Scrambling and climbing grades
Extract from Scrambles in the Lake District (two volumes) by John Fleetwood
Grading is inherently subjective but gives a guide as to the difficulty of the route. Minus (-) and plus (+) notations are used to augment the 1–3 grades to add further granularity. Rock climbing grades are used for routes commonly climbed as roped rock climbs. Climbers’ scrambles are identified in the Summary of routes and scrambles table and Appendix A. These are scrambles that are only suitable for scramblers with climbing experience and should be treated as rock climbs. Where alternatives exist, the grade for the alternative is given in brackets. The grades apply to ascents in good dry conditions. Wet rock, particularly on the crags, can increase the grade considerably or render a scramble extremely hazardous.
• 1: A straightforward scramble, with little or no route-finding difficulty. The described route takes the most interesting line, which can usually be varied or even avoided at will. Generally, the exposure is not significant, but even so, great care must be taken to avoid a slip.
• 2: Contains longer and more difficult stretches of scrambling, and a rope may be useful for ensuring safety for inexperienced or nervous scramblers. Although individual sections of the scramble can usually be avoided, these sections may be inescapable once the scramble is underway. Some skill in route finding is required to follow the described line.
• 3: A more serious proposition, only to be undertaken by competent parties. Escape is difficult. A rope is advisable for safety on exposed passages and for some pitches of easy rock climbing. The routes require a steady leader with the ability to judge how the rest of the party are coping with the situations, and a rope should be used wherever the safety of an individual is in doubt.
• 3S: A particularly serious outing, often involving poor rock or vegetation, and may include steep pitches of rock climbing. Recommended only for experienced, competent climbers who will almost certainly use a rope on key pitches. Escape is difficult.
• M: Moderate rock climb
• D: Difficult rock climb
• VD: Very Difficult rock climb
The Lake District
Live · 4 May 2021
Scrambling in the Lake District with Paul Rose and John Fleetwood
In our May Cicerone Live event, join Cicerone author John Fleetwood and special guest Paul Rose to explore scrambling in the Lake District.
Feature · 13 Feb 2021
Five best scrambles in the Lake District
The Lake District offers many scrambles, ranging from family-friendly rambles to iconic routes only suitable for experienced climbers. In his two new guidebooks to 'Scrambles in the Lake District', John Fleetwood has recorded over 390 individual...
Article · 22 Feb 2011
Blencathra via Sharp Edge
Clive from Cicerone takes a trip up Sharp Edge on Blencathra in the Lake District, one of the UK's classic scrambling ridges.
Feature · 15 Feb 2020
The Cuillin Ridge Light
The Cuillin Ridge Light is the best ridge in the UK for mere mortals. It uses cunning and knowledge to take the easiest line, hard climbs are bypassed and the bar of necessary experience and skills is lowered. You still ascend the Munros, climb the...
Feature · 29 Nov 2020
Tackling the Cuillin Ridge traverse
After a failed attempt on the Skye’s Cuillin Ridge traverse in 2019, Caroline returned this year to have another go. Taking the Cuillin Ridge Light approach, she managed to complete the route in a day. Here, she tells the story of taking on the...
Podcast · 28 Oct 2020
Skye's Cuillin Ridge Traverse with Adrian Trendall
A mountain traverse like no other in the UK, Skye's Cuillin Ridge is an aspiration for many climbers, mountaineers and scramblers. In this episode of highlights from our Cicerone...
Feature · 12 Sep 2017
Scrambles in Snowdonia – updating a classic guidebook
Carl McKeating and Rachel Crolla updated Steve Ashton’s classic guide book Scrambles in Snowdonia. They reflect on the experience and responsibility of handling one of the...
Feature · 10 Apr 2016
Scrambling in Snowdonia: the Clogwyn y Person Arête
Britain’s mountains bristle with hands-on-rock routes, and nowhere more densely than North Wales. Dan Aspel shares his first experience of a roped grade three scramble on the...
Article · 30 Aug 2017
Scrambles in Snowdonia – Interview with Carl McKeating and Rachel Crolla
Hill Explorer recently interviewed Carl McKeating and Rachel Crolla about their experience updating Steve Ashton's classic guidebook Scrambles in Snowdonia. With permission we...
Article · 2 Sep 2017
The Snowdon Horseshoe - a classic route
Alex Kendall, creator and author of the Snowdonia Way, takes some time out to tackle the Snowdon Horseshoe.
Scrambles in the Dark Peak
Easy summer scrambles and winter climbs
Guidebook to 41 graded scrambles in the Dark Peak and Roaches areas of the Peak District, most of which can be done year round. Includes areas such as Kinder Scout, the Wilderness Gullies and Bleaklow, and features both classic (Wilderness Gully East and Wildboar Clough) and lesser known routes. Link routes, variants and extensions also described.More information
Feature · 8 Dec 2015
Scrambling across the Dark Peak
The moors of the Peak District’s Dark Peak have been an important area for walkers and climbers for over a hundred years, with many well-established footpaths, which may be linked into challenging walks often involving passages of trackless peat...
Article · 22 Feb 2012
A chat with the authors of Scrambles in the Dark Peak
Scrambles in the Dark Peak is the result of many years climbing and walking in the Peak District. Author Terry Sleaford describes the guide's collaborative creation.
Article · 26 Jul 2012
New scramble route in the Peak District
Cicerone author Terry Sleaford of Scrambles in the Dark Peak has been out and about in the Peak District and has discovered a new route to supplement Rimmon Pit Clough (Route 1) in the guidebook.
Article · 31 Jul 2012
Cicerone Second new scrambling route in the Peak District
We have another new scrambling route from the Peak District that has not yet been published. Cicerone author Terry Sleaford recently discovered the Cloughs route which can...
Article · 26 Feb 2013
Another new scrambling route in the Peak District
Terry Sleaford - author of the Cicerone guidebook Scrambles in the Dark Peak has discovered another new scrambling route.
Article · 23 Aug 2017
Scrambles in the Dark Peak - an improved route up Chrome Hill via the S.W. Ridge
Tom Corker, author of Scrambles in the Dark Peak, and his good friend Trevor Clarke find an improved route up Chrome Hill via the S.W. Ridge.
Scrambles in Europe and further afield...
Feature · 9 Nov 2015
Scrambling in solitude on the Costa Blanca
If you think the Costa Blanca of southern Spain is all about sangria, sombreros and stuffed donkeys Terry Fletcher has a surprise for you – it’s time to discover some of...
Feature · 24 Apr 2019
Scrambling in the sunshine – spring in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas
Mick Borroff recounts his first trip to the Moroccan Anti-Atlas - a place of fantastic mountains, ridgeline scrambles, gorgeous gorges and painted rocks.
Feature · 20 Oct 2014
Climbing the Cavall Bernat on Mallorca
The Serra del Cavall Bernat is a scramble that lies between the bay of Cala de Sant Vicenc and the Vall de Boquer in the northeast of the island of Mallorca. Although rising to a mere 353m, it has very steep cliffs, which on the seaward side plunge...
Feature · 24 Nov 2018
Exploring Jebel El Kest and the Moroccan Anti-Atlas
The western Anti-Atlas is known to rock climbers and a small group of road-trip travellers. Its principal mountain, Jebel El Kest, was featured in a Cicerone Extra article by...
Feature · 5 Jan 2019
A traverse of the Moroccan north west Anti-Atlas from Ait Baha to the Ait Mansour or Teneglitche Gorge.
The Anti-Atlas mountain range lies just below the city of Agadir and to the south west of the High Atlas. Here you will find both adventure and tranquillity in the many 7000 ft...
Similar activities and mountain adventures
If you enjoy scrambling then you may be interested in our 'Mountain Adventures' guidebooks to Chamonix, Innsbruck and the Maurienne, all of which include a selection of scrambles and climbs, as well as walks, via ferrata mountain biking and cycling routes. Then there's always canyoning, for those who like to descend and keep cool in the water!
Via ferratas and canyoning
- British Mountains
- Climbing and mountaineering
- Mountain adventures
- Via Ferrata
- Lake District
- Wales and Welsh Borders
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