The Scrambler’s National 3 Peaks Challenge

By Dave Roberts   

on November 28, 2017   No ratings yet.

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The Scrambler’s National 3 Peaks Challenge

Most people will plan on walking the National 3 peaks challenge up Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, but hardly anyone will consider scrambling them. Scrambling routes are usually more exciting, tougher and have some spectacular photo ops for those of you that want to try and impress in the office on Monday morning. That does come with a price. These routes are all MUCH tougher than the regular routes. The National Three Peaks by the shortest and usually accepted route is around 34km, and an eye watering of 3000m ascent. Walk the National 3 Peaks Scrambling routes and you’ll cover 45km and 3500m ascent in one day.

One thing’s for certain, it’ll make completing the National Three Peaks Challenge in under 24 hours even tougher than usual. We estimate around 20 hours of steady walking – so you’ll need to shave at least an hour off each route in order to have 7 hours driving and any chance of completion in 24 hours.  Realistically, you’re going to have to be a really strong walker and a speedy scrambler in order to complete this challenge in under 24 hours, we reckon you’d need to jog some of the downhill and flatter sections as well.

There’s a selection of various scrambling routes up the National 3 Peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon to choose from. We’ve outlined the best GRADE 1 Scrambles below.

Ben Nevis National 3 Peaks Scrambling Routes

Ben Nevis holds a number of options for the Scrambler: There’s the regular Carn Mor Dearg Arete, aka the CMD arete, that can be tackled from the North Face Car Park or Glen Nevis. You can also approach the CMD from Upper Glen Nevis via the CMD East Ridge for a wilder day out. There’s also the Ledge Route up Ben Nevis’ North Face to consider.

The CMD Arete has to be the scrambling route of choice up Ben Nevis, and we’d suggest an ascent via the CMD in the late afternoon of day 1 in order to descend the Mountain Track before it gets too dark. Distance is around 20km with 1800m ascent and an estimated 8 hours walking time.

Ben Nevis CMD National 3 Peaks Scrambling Route

Scafell Pike National 3 Peaks Scrambling Routes

Scafell Pike offers slim pickings for the scrambler. You can pick out some routes, by making life difficult for yourself, but there’s no Striding Edge on Scafell Pike! You could tackle Scafell via Lord’s Rake, but that’s too contrived as a 3 peaks route up Scafell Pike. We think that the best bet for scramblers is the Corridor Route from Seathwaite – as it does have a couple of sections of very easy scrambling. With luck, you’ll be setting off at dawn along good tracks as far as Styhead Tarn, which wouldn’t be too tricky to walk pre-dawn if needed. You can return the same way, or continue the circuit along Ill Crag, Great End and descend via Esk Hause. Overall, a 15km outing with 1000m ascent that should take you around 6 hours.

Scafell Pike National 3 peaks Route for Scramblers

Snowdon National Three Peaks Scrambling Routes

Finally, Yr Wyddfa, or Snowdon, offers 3 options for the Scrambling Three Peak Challenger. You can ascend via Y Gribin  or Y Lliwedd, and on almost any other mountain they’d be stand out routes. On Snowdon however, there’s no point discussing these excellent scrambles further as we know we won’t be suggesting them. Crib Goch Scramble from Pen y Pass is the stand out winner, as if it would be any other way. If you’ve got the strength left in your legs then the cherry on the cake is surely completing this final section of the Scrambler’s National 3 Peaks as the Snowdon Horseshoe!

An ascent of Crib Goch, and down the PYG track, you’ll be looking at a distance of 10km, 760m of ascent and 5-6 hours.
Crib Goch National 3 Peaks Route up Snowdon

Disagree with us? Say so in the post review section and tell us what your pick is for a Scrambler’s National 3 Peaks.


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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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