Classic Scramble - Cam Crag Ridge

© Jessie Leong

Cam Crag Ridge is situated a short walk up from Langstrath Beck, a silvery ribbon of water weaving its way through Langstrath Valley. This tucked away Grade 2 scramble is made up of short buttresses and sloping steps. The route can be as 'climbing' as you want it to be, with easy walk-off possibilities between each buttress, making it a fantastic goal either for those just getting into scrambling, or for old hands wanting to sample one of the Lake District's finest offerings.

What is it about Lakeland scrambles that makes them so satisfying? Maybe it's the quality rock and moves, the way they pack so much interest into a short and manageable day. Perhaps it's the joy of locating the routes in the first place, with hidden jewel-tinted pools along the way complete with nature's own jacuzzi. Or maybe it's the journey, which takes you through an isolated valley below great colossal monoliths of rock, towering above on neighbouring crags. Cam Crag Ridge is all of the above.

Exciting ground high on Cam Crag Ridge  © Jessie Leong
Exciting ground high on Cam Crag Ridge
© Jessie Leong

Reunited with old friends from a hiking club, where time had made us nostalgic for our rose-tinted hiking past, a journey to Cam Crag was much needed, in pursuit of an exciting, but not-too-technical scramble in the mountains just a stone's throw from Derwentwater and the coffee shop-lined streets of Keswick.

Cam Crag Ridge (M), Rosthwaite Fell

Grade: 2 Scramble

Start/finish: Roadside parking near Stonethwaite, main parking at Rosthwaite (NY 257148)

Distance: c.9.5km, scramble 250m

Ascent: 500m

Equipment: Stiff boots or approach shoes. No climbing gear necessary.

Maps: OS Landranger (1:50,000) 90; OS Explorer (1:25,000) OL5; Harvey British Mountain Map (1:40,000) Lake District

Guidebooks: Lake District Climbs and Scrambles by Stephen Godwin (Vertebrate Publishing)

Scrambles in the Lake District North by Brian Evans (Cicerone)

Some scrambles are ones to revisit again and again, where there are opportunities to discover new holds and moves you hadn't realised were there the first time. With its multiple choice of lines, Cam Crag Ridge is one of those. Catch it in the early morning light, with its easterly position, and this is arguably an all-season scramble, with plenty of dry, positive holds. Nevertheless, some exciting ground is available if you go looking for it.

Getting diverted on the walk-in  © Jessie Leong
Getting diverted on the walk-in
© Jessie Leong

The route prior to Cam Crag involves a steady, gently ascending walk-in from Rosthwaite, either along a well-marked footpath on the Cumbria Way or on a gravel track that takes you on a straight line through the valley. If you're lucky, you might be able to bag a parking spot just outside Stonethwaite, although careful parking is required to avoid disruption and annoyance to the farmers.

Locate the footpath, which leads past the Langstrath Country Inn and Stonethwaite Farm campsite. A popular spot with both campers and camper vanners, the late spring air is heady with the scent of sun-dazed bluebells from the woods along Stonethwaite Beck. At Galleny Force, or 'Fairy Glen' as it's also known, we reach a popular wild swimming spot with two connecting pools and cascades creating a short waterfall. The mood of the group becomes increasingly giddy for a bit of spontaneous swimming. While it might not be the thing everyone wants to embrace first thing in the morning, those that prefer to picnic will find an idyllic spot for a mid-morning snack. Just remember to bring your swimming costume or face a 'cooling' effect when you start scrambling!

Not far above Woof Stones, the scrambling gets interesting  © Jessie Leong
Not far above Woof Stones, the scrambling gets interesting
© Jessie Leong

After drying ourselves down, we headed along a vehicle track on the right hand side of the river where Stonethwaite Beck reaches Smithymire Island, a junction between Langstrath Beck and Greenup Gill. Look up to the imposing crags of Heron Crag and Sergeant's Crag gazing down from their rocky watchtowers, we followed the vehicle track for 2km to reach Blackmoss Pot, a small ravine with deep rock lined walls, popular for deep water soloing and for those looking for a more exhilarating dip.

Shortly after this we aimed steeply up the path and cross the stile , confronting a set of gigantic boulders, the Woof Stones. Continuing upwards, trending left past the huge stones up some steep grassy slopes, we soon reached the base of the scramble. Woof Beck will be visible below on your left, and a grassy start where holds (and a slightly better line) can be found to the right.

There's usually a choice of route: here it's right up the groove (grade 2), or stay left at grade 1  © Jessie Leong
There's usually a choice of route: here it's right up the groove (grade 2), or stay left at grade 1
© Jessie Leong

Once past the easy intro ground the scrambling is excellent, and we soon reached an initially imposing wall, where the route weaves its way up via a choice of numerous problems. Route finding is a case of feeling for holds that many thousands of hands before you have located. The moves are well linked together, with plenty of jug-like holds and rests.

We climbed up the right hand side of the buttress, then headed straight up the next rocky wall and direct up the rib above for an exposed, photogenic finish on the top of the buttress. If airy grade 2 jug pulling sounds a bit spicy then rest assured that each obstacle, though quite serious once committed, is also readily avoidable via easier grassy terraces on the left. Less confident teams could contrive to climb cam Crag Ridge with nothing harder than grade 1 scrambling, though this would be a missed opportunity.

It's bound to bring a smile to your face  © Jessie Leong
It's bound to bring a smile to your face
© Jessie Leong

Too soon the scrambling fun finished, as we reached the grassy knobbles of the fell tops. Here you can practice your best micro navigation and to locate Rosthwaite Cam at 612m, or alternatively, there are options to extend the route and head south-west towards Glaramara. for a longer hands-on day it is even possible to combine Cam Crag Ridge with the harder but equally enjoyable Intake Ridge in the adjacent valley of Combe Gill. We continued down towards Tarn at Leaves and joined a well-trodden path heading north-east down towards Borrowdale. The pub in Rosthwaite was calling.

Looking for more top days out on the rock?

UKH Articles and Gear Reviews by Jessie Leong

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