"Light packs, lots of hills, and no cold and boring belays!" Scrambling aficionados offer their top reasons why you should give it a go this autumn, plus three favourite routes to whet your appetite.
“Look over the edge, trace the horizon and swim in the view of mountain lakes. Balance your way across the boulders and wave your toes in the wind. Exploring these beautiful, unspoilt places is one of the main reasons why I enjoy scrambling so much. Take your time and soak up the view.”
Tom Livingstone, mountain instructor.
"Why try scrambling? A new challenge and a more interesting way to the top of the mountain. It's fun to move around on rock and you can tailor the difficulty to how you feel on the day. What's not to like?"
Rachel Crewesmith, mountain instructor.
"It makes for quite a social group activity. I spent many university climbing trips enjoying classic scrambles and banter with friends. Climbing is less sociable as you're a lot more spread out and doing different routes."
Steve Eliff, education manager.
Striding Edge. Photo: Matt Cooper
"Scrambling gets you into some incredible positions in the mountains. It opens up new terrain, routes and even whole mountains that aren't accessible to hill walkers. When scrambling I find that I forget how tired my legs are, like I do hill walking sometimes; instead I'm thinking about the next move, where the route is going and the space below my feet!"
Rebecca Coles, mountain instructor.
"You experience the mountain from a more exposed perspective; you touch and travel over the stone that was thrust up from the earth below. You become part of the mountain rather than just an observer. Plus the pints taste better afterwards."
Mick Ryan, director of fotoVUE guidebooks.
"Light packs, lots of hills, and no cold and boring belays!"
Dr Viv Scott, research associate in Geosciences.
Taking a breather on Tryfan.
And finally, slightly more than seven reasons from Dominic Sellers:
"It’s less faff than cragging, there’s less stuff to carry, you can cover a larger area so get better views (sometimes!), moving faster means you see more, it’s more fun than walking, you can combine it with running, you can do it on a wet day, there’s no standing around getting cold, there is never ever anyone else doing it in the Peak (the Kinder cloughs are always empty in both summer and winter), you can do it in the dark, you can do it even if your climbing partner is sh*t, there’s often great exposure, if you’re that way inclined you can still log something even if the weather is crap, there’s freedom to find your own line rather than following some sh*t eliminate, you often get a summit, you can go down as well as up, it’s great preparation for the Alps and other mountaineering, there’s no hurty toes in tiny rock boots, you get to wear your stiff boots in summer, it gives you good hill fitness ready for winter and you expend lots of energy which means you get to eat loads!"
Dominic Sellers, geography teacher.
Top three scrambles to try
Pinnacle Ridge in the Lake District
I first scrambled this classic, Grade 3 Lake District route in my teens and have been back many times since. It has it all: slabs, cracks, exposed ledges, a superb ridge and spiky pinnacle. It’s a small piece of the Alps in the shadow of Helvellyn. The approach is short enough for it to be done on a summers evening or on a short winters day when it is all snowed and rimed up. Magic, and good for anyone’s first steps into the world of exposed grade three scrambling. Take a rope.
Red Brook in the Peak District
My favourite Peak scramble is Red Brook (Grade 1). To the first-time peak scrambler armed with a copy of the Cicerone guide ‘Dark Peak Scrambles’, this could get confusing as every stream bed leading up to Kinder seems to be some variation of the words ‘red’ and ‘brook’. My favourite is the one on the right-hand side as you approach The Downfall. Red Brook is long compared to other Peak scrambles, and continually interesting all the way to the top.
However, I think that everyone’s favourite scramble is as much determined by the particular experience they had the first time they did it as by the quality of the route. When I first did this route, the forecast was awful and as I drove over to Hayfield I had the windscreen wipers on max power. However, the rain died to nothing in the car park and by the time I topped out the view was stunning.
Bilberry Terrace in Snowdonia
Where to start? But if I had to choose just one, it would be Bilberry Terrace – a three-star Grade 3 route on Lliwedd, in the Snowdon Horseshoe. It encompasses everything I like about scrambling: a long and adventurous journey which finishes right on the summit, with some easy and some harder terrain, in a beautiful mountain setting. It's best to then 'reverse' the Snowdon Horseshoe and finish by going over Crib Goch to make a brilliant day in the mountains. I also really enjoy the Crib Lem Spur (Grade 1) on Llech Ddu for its remote feel, the North Ridge of Tryfan into Bristly Ridge (Grade 2) for a great link-up, and Bryant's Gully (Grade 2) on Glyder Fawr because I don't think anybody ever does it!
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