Scrambling in the Lake District

photo by Will4Adventure

From long ridges and open buttresses to its tumbling ghylls, the Lake District must be the UK’s capital of scrambling.

What is scrambling?

For those of you looking for an adventurous alternative to walking up a hill or mountain, but not experienced or expert enough to spend the day rock climbing, scrambling could be the perfect solution.

Scrambling is broadly categorised into three grades. Grade 1 routes will often provide that feeling of exposure that will come with the clambering over rocks high up in the mountains – but rarely is it committing: if you’re not happy, you could probably by pass the scramble with a nearby footpath or possibly safely retreat back down the way you came. Additionally route finding should be easy and obvious.

Grade 2 routes will incorporate some harder moves, may be more committing, or harder to follow. Grade 3 routes will at times be as hard and as exposed as a rock climb, will be fully committing, and quite possibly difficult to follow.

The nature of scrambles can also vary across the grades depending on the ground that you follow – from routes on the flanks of hills, to rocky exposed ridges to wet and greasy ghylls.
I’ve never done this before: what’s a good route to start on?

First of all – if you are scared of heights – maybe you should address this problem first by doing a Fear of Heights Course. But if your head is good then the best scramble to start on would be Striding Edge, Helvelyn – if it feels too scary then you can just take the footpath alongside it! Following that, Sharp Edge and Jack’s Rake are two to ripe for excitement.

Do I need strong upper body strength?

No you don’t – if you’re working your upper body that much you’re doing something wrong. But – you do usually need good hill legs.

Do I need any specialist kit for scrambling?

No you don’t – just wear what you would sensibly need for any mountain day. If you are doing grade 2 and 3 routes you will need a helmet and harness, a rope and some basic climbing gear.

Who could teach or guide me on a scrambling day or course?

One company that has a lot of experience in taking individuals and groups out on the hill for this is Will4Adventure. They only use experienced and qualified leaders, will cater for all levels of experience and will welcome your enquiries.

What sort of skills do I need for scrambling?

Before you head out into the mountains to do any activity you should have sound hill skills and be competent and confident with a map and compass. Following this over time you should develop skills in the following areas:

* Technique for climbing and movement on steep ground
* Basic rope skills for safeguarding short ascents and descents
* Judgment and route finding
* Hazard awareness and management
* Interpreting guidebooks

Finally you should note that:

Scrambling is exciting, intoxicating and liberating. But it should also be noted that scrambling as with all outdoor pursuits, carries an inherent risk of injury and death, which cannot be eliminated.