Hiking with kids in the UK presents a unique experience compared to our usual hikes in the United States. In the UK, many trails involve scrambling over rocks to reach summits. While generally safe, these routes can challenge your nerves, especially if you fear heights. As frequent rock climbers, we relished these more adventurous hikes.
Visiting Snowdonia National Park should be on everyone’s bucket list. There are so many amazing hikes in this park that it is not likely that you will hear about this hike- er, well it’s not a hike. You will probably be encouraged by others to head to Mount Snowdon, which, I too would recommend along with Cadair Idris. But if you are seeking a more thrilling, adventurous expedition head to Tryfan Mountain.
There is a great campground at the base of the mountain where the trail starts, which I suggest that you stay at the night before or after you hike Tryfan. As you start the hike you pass an awesome climbing area that I also suggest you check out if you’re a trad climber. There are no trails once you get to the base of the mountain.
It can be confusing at times, but there’s only one way to go…. You will be scrambling hand over hand for one to two hours as you make your way up to the summit. After you make it over the first ridge, make your way left until you see a little trail wandering along and up the side of the mountain. Walking through this section you will feel like you are in Lord of the Rings with the blank rocks and patches of deep green moss and grass.
When you reach the top make sure you take a picture on top of the pillars, Adam and Eve.
Blencartha via Fell’s Ridge, Lake District
Tryfan is a great warm-up for this hike. The most well-known hike in the area is known as the Sharp Edge but its sister hike, Fell’s Ridge, which runs parallel to Sharp Edge, is our more favored hike. While the Sharp Edge is a slightly harder hike, Fell’s Ridge is more exposed making you feel like you are in more danger than you are. Fell’s Ridge has amazing views of the valley below and is awesome because it is filled with easy scrambling.
The hike is great for all ages. We took our five-year-old and eight-year-old on this hike and they loved it while still keeping me entertained. The 5-mile route we took went up Fell’s Ridge and along the cliff to the left until it began to wind down the mountain and took roughly 3 hours. You can choose to go down Sharp Edge on the way back or vice-versa and take it first, coming down Fell’s Ridge. Do not miss this hike.
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Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge
One of the most picturesque hikes we’ve done, and a great intermediate scramble, is the mountain of Helvellyn. This hike is located in the beautiful Lake District. The route can start and end from many different points depending on how long you’d like to make the trek. We chose to make a U around the deep blue lake. The route starts at the campground and climbs steeply for about 45 to 60 minutes before reaching the base of Striding Edge. From here, scramble along the ridge taking in the majestic greens and blues of the views on either side.
The route peaks at a sheer plateau that makes for a great pausing point (unless it’s a windy day). Then, descend on Swirral Edge, which is the easier side of the two. Don’t forget to look up and take in the explosions of wind dancing on the water creating intricate designs on the surface. This is a very popular hike and you will likely run into some traffic jams. For those who are afraid of heights, there is an easy trail around the sides of each ridge. However, I suggest taking the literal high road and prancing along the ridges like a mountain goat.
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The Saddle via Forcan Ridge, Scotland
Prepare yourself for one of the hardest hikes you’ll ever do. If you are hiking with kids in the UK, you need to be very adventurous for this one. This adrenaline-filled, seven-hour hike is filled with gorgeous views from the Scottish Highlands to The Isle of Skye.
It is steep, both up and down, and you will move very slowly. The trail begins past a gate from the side of the road and winds up the side of the mountain. After you accept this you will likely be thinking, this isn’t as hard as people say, but after passing a stunning view of the valley to your right, you will see Forcan Ridge scaling over your head and that is where things get fun. Up and down over five or more mountain peaks, The Saddle (the endpoint) will seem as if it will never come. Even I, an experienced scrambler and rock climber, had to stay focused on the ridge.
The edges are very sheer and there are times when you cannot go around the rocks and you must climb. Even when you make it to the pillar of The Saddle, don’t get too excited because that is the halfway marker for time on the hike. You then scramble down some chossy rocks, following the attempts of a trail, past the pond-sized lakes on either side, and have to go back up ANOTHER mountain. The views from this mountain are even better than from the ridge. Striding along the ridge of this mountain, your legs will finally get a rest from elevation changes. The downhill is brutally long but worthwhile.
Due to the ambiguous grounds, it is nearly impossible to tell what is bog and what is solid ground. Your shoes will be soaked and muddy by the end of this hike no matter how hard you try. You know you are close when you reach the river, which was incredibly refreshing to wash off in. It is a once-in-a-lifetime scramble/hike/trek that can’t be missed by adventure seekers. Unlike the other hikes mentioned, I do recommend embarking only if you are agile or have mountain experience.
Touring the UK in a campervan was awesome! Check out Outdoorsy for great vans and RV’s to rent in the UK.
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Did we miss your favorite scramble hike? Let us know your favorite UK hike in the comments below!