There are few better ways to spend a weekend in the UK than navigating the mountain ranges of our small island, ticking off summit after summit. However, for travellers looking for stunning views or less-travelled routes to the top of some of these peaks, a collection of stunning UK ridge walks provide the perfect opportunity to take your hiking to the next level.
With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with Mountain Training to showcase five of the most breath-taking, pulse-raising ridge walks in the UK, giving you the opportunity to take the best possible route to the summit. As the UK and Ireland’s awarding body for mountain skills qualifications, it’s safe to say Mountain Training knows a thing or two about safely navigating Britain’s collection of stunning ridges.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it…
We’ll start with one of the best. The Aonach Eagach ridge dominates the surrounding scenery of Glen Coe in western Scotland, standing at 953m. Rated as a grade two scramble, the ridge represents a serious challenge for less-experienced hikers and it’s advised to have some scrambling experience before tackling the ridge as a bare minimum.
The ridge is around six-miles long, but once you’re on the climb there’s no easy way down. Therefore, it’s also advisable for would-be climbers to have a serious head for heights. Sheer drops into the valley below, spine-tingling exposure, and exposed down-climbs can make the scrambling daunting, but certainly more rewarding.
Being part of the Snowdon horseshoe trek, Crib Goch is an exposed ridge that offers a longer and more technical route to the famous summit of Wales’s highest mountain. Steep drop offs on either side will be sure to raise your heart-rate and keep you fully focussed on the terrain as you make your way upwards.
The climb is rated as a grade one scramble, but make no mistake, this is one of the hardest routes up Snowdon and is certainly not for beginners. Like the rest of these knife-edge ridges, would-be summiteers will need a firm head for heights and experience scrambling and hiking confidently. Keep an eye on the forecast too, there are few easy routes off when strong winds blow in.
The Striding Edge is one of the UK’s most picturesque scrambles. Set in the stunning surroundings of the Lake District, it leads you to the summit of Helvellyn.
It’s also notable for being a relatively straightforward scramble to tackle and presents a comfortable first route for beginners. While it’s rated grade one (the same as Crib Goch) the ridge itself features a number of different paths that allow you to skirt around some of the harder moves should you wish.
That’s not to say this ridge lacks excitement, the Striding Edge has earned its place on this list with good reason. The ridge is narrow with steep drop offs either side that give way to stunning views over the lakes below. It’s a fantastic introduction to the world of British scrambling.
Carn Mor Dearg Arete
Leading to the summit of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, the Carn Mor Dearg Arete simply had to make our list.
Avoiding the tourist traffic on the popular route up the mountain, the Carn Mor Dearg Arete balances an element of risk with exceptional reward. Take on this traverse and you’ll be walking one of the most stunning ridges on this list. I mean, just look at the photo above!
There’s not much technical climbing on the ridge itself, and it isn’t hugely challenging, so should be well within the capabilities of experienced hikers with a head for heights.
For the more daring amongst you, we’ve long suggested the Carn Mor Dearg Arete may well be one of the best winter walks in the UK. So, strap on your crampons, break out your ice axe, and check out how to make a winter summit of Ben Nevis here.
Cuillin Ridge Traverse
If you’ve ticked off all four of the above, feel confident in your abilities and skills on the mountains, and (somehow) you’re still looking for more, then the Cuillin Ridge Traverse may well be the challenge for you.
Located on the staggeringly beautiful Isle of Skye, the views are out of this world. But, it’s not just the views that leave the Cuillin Ridge Traverse as one of the most coveted ridge walks in Europe…
The traverse is the pinnacle of British scrambling, and one of the most challenging routes in Europe. Spanning 22 peaks, 20 miles (some of which is on grade three scrambling), with 4,000m of ascent and descent it’s certainly not for the faint hearted or ill-prepared. Would-be climbers will need to be physically and mentally prepared, give themselves a couple of days (at least) of clear weather, and go armed with ropes and climbing equipment. Good luck!
To bring you these five ridge walks we’ve teamed up with Mountain Training. The Mountain Training team are keen advocates of getting people into the hills in a safe and responsible way, and they’ll provide you with the skills and training you need to confidently tackle the routes in this feature. As the UK and Ireland’s awarding body for mountain skills qualifications they maintain lofty safety standards and approve providers to deliver skills training courses.
Find out more about a Mountain Skills course here. See you on those ridges!