8 of the Best Scrambles in the UK

exposure on aonach eagach-min
Love a bit of scrambling? I do! Maybe it's the fresh air and adrenaline combination. Maybe it's the views. Whatever the reason, I am hooked on scrambling.Here's my take on the UK's 8 best Grade 1 or 2 scrambles (covering England, Scotland and Wales).

Contents

I’d done some minor scrambling as a child – just tumbling my way across boulders on walks. But I didn’t start scrambling “properly” until 2021. Since then, I’ve made a hobby out of crossing ridges, scrambling up mountains and basically taking on as many unroped scrambles in England, Scotland and Wales as I can in my limited free time.

I’ve had the pleasure of scrambling Crib Goch, Striding Edge, Sharp Edge, Tryfan’s North Ridge, Aonach Aegach, CMD Arête to Ben Nevis, Hall’s Fell Ridge, Jack’s Rake and a few others.

I still have absolutely tonnes of them to do (anyone fancy doing my work so I can spend a month scrambling in Scotland, please?).

So in this post, I’m sharing what I consider to be the UK’s best scrambling routes based on the ones I’ve done before.

Best Scrambles in the UK

Before I share my take on the best scrambles in the UK, here are some caveats:

  • I’m only ever going to talk about routes I’ve done. So this list is by no means exhaustive and is just based on the ones I’ve done
  • These only include grade 1 and 2 scrambles where I feel comfortable going unroped. I don’t have the rope skills or experience to take on grade 3 scrambles without a guide (though that’s definitely the plan for the coming year – going guided for some grade 3s)
  • I’ll change and add to this list over time as I do more
  • It’s subjective. Everyone will have different opinions!
 

So, in summary here are my top 8 (in order):

  1. Aonach Eagach, Scotland
  2. Crib Goch, Wales
  3. Tryfan North Ridge, Wales
  4. Crib Lem Spur, Wales
  5. CMD Arête, Scotland
  6. Striding Edge, England
  7. Jacks’ Rake, England
  8. Sharp Edge, England
 
This list is based purely on my own views and how much I enjoyed the scrambling specifically. I tend to like sustained and exposed scrambles with epic views, which is reflected in this list.
 

But loosely, here’s how they were for me:

RouteOverall Enjoyment (out of 10)ExposureScrambling Grade
Aonach Eagach10High – it’s not consistent but this is a lengthy ridge and in the exposed parts it is very exposed2
Crib Goch10High and consistent1
Tryfan North Ridge9Moderate1
Crib Lem Spur8.5Moderate to High – doesn’t feel as exposed as Crib Goch and by no means as consistently exposed. But there are some highly exposed parts1
CMD Arête8 (possibly down from a 9 cos of my weather related tantrum 😂 )Moderate1
Striding Edge8High1
Jack’s Rake8Moderate1
Sharp Edge7Moderate1

Want to know more about each and see some photos? Keep on scrolling.

Aonach Eagach, Glencoe, Scotland

aonach eagach exposure point of view

Grade2
Scrambling DifficultySome difficult down scrambling
ExposureNot consistently exposed, but where there is exposure it is VERY exposed
Suitable for Beginners?No

Without doubt, my most enjoyable solo day in the mountains of the UK to date and I cannot wait to go back and do it again.

If exposure and views is your thing then Aonach Eagach is right up your street. I particularly enjoyed the views back over the ridge once completed.

views over aonach eagach

This is a beautiful scrambling route in good weather. The crux for many is the crazy pinnacles at the end, which require some down climbing as well.

Here are some video highlights from my experience.

You can read my full Aonach Eagach crossing post below.

Aonach Eagach Route and Review Post

aonach eagach ridge from drone
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Crossing Aonach Eagach Ridge – Wow!

I finally ticked off a big hiking wish list item and scrambled my way across the Aonach Eagach ridge. Reputedly mainland Britain’s longest, narrowest ridge, I knew to expect a tough scramble and lots of exposure. But how was it? Here’s how I found the difficulty, exposure and route on Aonach Eagach.

Read More »

Aonach Eagach Video Footage (Drone and GoPro)

A few snippets from my drone and GoPro footage are in the video above. And in the post you can check out the route I took as well. 

Crib Goch, Snowdonia, North Wales

crib goch snowdonia

Grade1
Scrambling DifficultyRelatively simple scrambling
ExposureConsistently very exposed
Suitable for Beginners?No

This was another of those mountain days that just felt incredible. It was a really tough call choosing a favourite between Aonach Eagach and Crib Goch for the number one spot on this post. But I think on the basis of the fact that Aonach Eagach is Glencoe, which is utterly incredible, it just pipped it.

Crib Goch is a splendid scrambling route. From the Crib Goch summit you go along the infamous and incredibly narrow ridge. And after you get to the end of that, you have more scrambling to enjoy as you make your way up to the Garnedd Ugain summit. From there you can either descend via the Pyg track immediately or pop on over to the Snowdon Summit (though that’s often considerably busier than I like my mountain summits 😂).

crib goch cloud

It’s such a narrow ridge. Crossing from the Crib Goch summit in the direction of Snowdon (the most commonly done route) you’ll have an incredibly sheer drop to your right. The exposure is incredibly sustained but the views are so beautiful. 

You can read my full Crib Goch Review in the post below with route information and more photos.

 

Crib Goch Route and Review Post

crib goch snowdonia
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Crib Goch Ridge – How Difficult is It?

I hiked across Crib Goch in July 2022 as part of a Snowdon route. I’ve done a lot of mountain hiking but this was only my third exposed ridge. Beautiful and exhilarating with the weather conditions on my side, this is how I found the crossing.

Read More »

Crib Goch Video Footage (from GoPro)

There are a few clips in the view above taken from my chest mounted GoPro.

Tryfan North Ridge, Wales

Tryfan North Ridge Cannon Stone

The Tryfan North ridge isn’t an exposed ridge in the same vein as Crib Goch or Aonach Eagach. It’s more a scramble up to a summit. And I found the scrambling on Tryfan, despite being technically a grade 1 scramble, to be more difficult than either Crib Goch or Aonach Eagach.

It has some pretty magnificent views as well.

One thing to note about this scramble compared with others in this list of the best, is that the route is not as “set.” It’s very straightforward with all of the other scrambles in this list to figure out which way to go. But with Tryfan, there’s more possible routes you could take. So figuring out the best route to take is, in my view, a lot of the fun here.

You can read my full Tryfan review in the post below and check out the route I took in the post below.

 

Tryfan North Ridge Cannon Stone
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Tryfan North Ridge Scrambling and Hiking Route

Tryfan’s North Ridge route offers up some absolutely spectacular scrambling and incredible views. So I was delighted to stick the out of office on and head over there for a hiking morning on a sunny May Friday. Here’s how it went!

Read More »

Crib Lem Spur, Wales

Grade1
Scrambling DifficultyRelatively simple
ExposureModerate to high exposure in parts
Suitable for Beginners?Jury’s out for me on this one! I’m glad it wasn’t my first – something like Striding Edge or CMD Arête feel like a better place to test how you handle exposure on scrambling ridges. But equally the scrambling is pretty straightforward

I hadn’t even heard of Crib Lem a month ago. But I came across a video on Tiktok and just had to have a go. Many people compare it to its not-so-far-neighbour, Crib Goch. In my view, the scenery here is just as stunning as around Crib Goch and the scrambling is as much fun. Without the same consistency in exposure, you could argue it isn’t quite as exhilarating for the thrill seekers. But I absolutely loved it and there are some incredible exposed parts of it. Allow me to share a snippet from an Instagram Reel I posted after watching my GoPro footage back (foul language warning):

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

A post shared by Stacey MacNaught (@staceycav)

The hardest part about this particular day is that it was hovering around 30 degrees in the valley and didn’t drop much lower even at elevations of over 1,000m. So by the time I reached the Crib Lem Spur itself (which is at 700m elevation or so and a 5km walk in) I was hot and exhausted.

The scrambling itself isn’t particularly technical but is a lot of fun.  A core difference between Crib Lem Spur and Crib Goch is that Crib Goch is largely horizontal and you don’t gain a ton of elevation going across it. You do gain a lot of elevation scrambling the Crib Lem Spur which is an ascending ridge.

You can read the full Crib Lem Spur post below.

Crib Lem Spur-min
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Crib Lem Spur Scramble (Llech Ddu Spur)

In a bid to bag as many of the UK’s finest scrambles as possible, I headed to the Crib Lem Spur (Llech Ddu Spur) in Snowdonia on a very, very hot and sunny Friday. Here’s my take on this spectacular scramble and the wider hiking route that takes in 3 of the Welsh 3000s (Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn and Yr Elen)

Read More »

CMD Arête to Ben Nevis, Scotland

Grade1
Scrambling DifficultyRelatively simple
ExposureModerate exposure
Suitable for Beginners?Yes – I think so

CMD Arête was my first real ridge route (and my first time up Ben Nevis). Not going to lie – the weather was utterly horrific (defying the forecast) and very low visibility, rain and wind didn’t make for the best crossing conditions. That probably influenced a slight downgrading in the overall ranking for me on this one.

However, I believe that on a good weather day the views are incredible. And indeed, on the early ascent up to the CMD summit we had some spectacular views of the Ben Nevis North Face.

This is a much wider ridge than Crib Goch or Aonach Eagach and actually, it’s one I am thinking I would take my son (he’s 8 and getting into scrambling with some simple ridges at the moment). The ridge is exposed, for sure. But there’s a bypass path slightly off to the left for large parts of it. And the ridge itself is wider by far than others on this list. So I think this is suitable for beginners (albeit a long hiking day).

You can read my CMD Arête full review and route in the post below.

cmd arete for beginners
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Is the CMD Arête to Ben Nevis Difficult?

The UK’s highest mountain by its most spectacular hiking route. That’s what the CMD arête to Ben Nevis promises. But how is it in reality? And how does it fare for beginners? I hiked to Ben Nevis via Carn Mor Dearg and the CMD arête. Here’s how I found what was my first notable ridge hike.

Read More »

Striding Edge, Lake District, England

striding edge helvellyn

Grade1
Scrambling DifficultySimple scrambling
ExposureModerate exposure
Suitable for Beginners?Yes – I think so

This was a wonderful day out. It’s a pretty short ridge and while there’s quite some exposure, you can avoid the crest of the ridge with a path just off it.

One of the best things about Striding Edge is that, once it’s done, you get more scrambling up to the summit of Helvellyn, England’s 3rd tallest mountain. I think that’s also my favourite summit in England.

And just when you think all the scrambling fun is over, you get to descend via Swirral Edge, which is another light scrambling route. You can read my full Striding Edge review and check out my route in the post below.

 

Striding Edge Route and Review Post

striding edge helvellyn
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Striding Edge – How Dangerous is it?

Striding Edge is a popular ridge route to the summit of England’s third highest mountain, Helvellyn.

But how’d you get there? How safe is it? And who is it suitable for.

We took a little wander out there to take on Striding Edge for ourselves and here’s our take on it along with some photos and video from a sunny day on Helvellyn.

Read More »

Striding Edge Video Footage (from Drone and GoPro)

There are a few clips in the view above taken from my chest mounted GoPro and some from my drone as well.

Jack’s Rake to Pavey Ark, Lake District, England

Grade1
Scrambling DifficultySimple scrambling
ExposureModerate exposure
Suitable for Beginners?Yes, in my opinion

Jack’s Rake up to the Pavey Ark summit is one of the Lake District’s iconic scrambles. It’s not a ridge, but instead an ascent up the front of a cliff face! The exposure is all on one side and is moderate for the most part. But in all this is such a thoroughly enjoyable morning of scrambling and hiking.

You can read my full Jack’s Rake review and grab the route I took from the post below.

jack's rake
Hiking Blog
Stacey MacNaught

Jack’s Rake Scramble up Pavey Ark

Jack’s Rake is an incredibly fun scramble up the face of Pavey Ark in the Lake District’s Langdales. It has been on the list for a while so I took a sunny morning off to go and get this one in the bag. Here’s the route I took and review of the morning.

Read More »

Sharp Edge to Blencathra, Lake District, England

Sharp Edge, Blencathra

Grade1
Scrambling DifficultySimple scrambling
ExposureModerate exposure
Suitable for Beginners?Yes, in my opinion

 
Sharp Edge is the ridge I wish I’d scrambled first. There is a small section of quite notable exposure but on the whole it’s reasonably moderate. The ridge is very short. 

There’s a scramble after the ridge up to the top of Blencathra. And then you get the benefit of the absolutely spectacular Blencathra summit, which is one of the finest in England!

Blencathra's summit

You can read my full Sharp Edge review and grab the route map in the post below.

 

The Best UK Scrambles

These are, in my view, 8 of the best UK scrambling routes. But granted, I have lots more to do so this list may well change over time! I’ve got my eye on some of many ridges in Scotland!

So I’ll be sure to update this again on the other side!

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