top of page

Top VS climbs in the Lake District

Maybe you're just breaking in to VS terrain, want to explore the Lakes more, or are building up your logbook for RCDI or MCI qualifications? Here's a list of some of the best VS routes in the Lake District.

Some of the below will be just right for those starting out at the grade, whilst others will be more suitable for people with a fair amount of experience under their belt. As always, please don't blindly trust other people's recommendations - do your own research and make the best decisions for you :)

Single Pitch

Sometimes climbers choose single pitch crags in areas like the Lakes if they don't feel as confident or experienced on multpitch crags. Whilst this is a totally ok thing to do....don't get sucked in to just spotting the grades you're after in a guidebook and making your decision solely on that. Check out the crag and route descriptions carefully, consider how frequently something might get climbed, and look at star ratings or UKC reviews. Sometimes multipitch routes, whilst being more committing, can be better quality and have better gear placements than some of the short single pitch crags in places like the Lakes.

Here's a short list (I'm sure I've missed out loads!) of single pitch VS climbs I'd recommend in the Lake District

Shepherds Crag (Borrowdale) - Fishers Folly VS 4c

Steady corner climbing with lots of good gear, followed by a hands off rest and then a more committing traverse right. A great, well climbed route on a popular crag, Fishers Folly gets you good at spotting the best sequence, moving your feet first, and considering how you extend and clip your ropes for both the leader and the second.

Long Scar (Wrynose) - Katies Dilemma VS 4b

Given Mild VS in local guidebooks, this is a lovely climb on one of the most picturesque crags in the area, perfect for a nice summers day. The gear at the belays is often shallow and a little hard to find, so take your time and make it good!

Raven Walthwaite (Chapel Stile) - Enterprize VS 4b

Whilst not an extensive crag, Raven Walthwaite has some really great routes from HS through to HVS. Enterprize has great climbing and a nice sense of exposure on the arete. The climbing isn't hard, but it's an absorbing route and teaches you to climb calmly, and get good at finding and judging gear placements. Be sure to check out the bird bans before visiting.

Castle Rock (St Johns in the Vale) - Direct Route VS 4b

A really great route with good holds but a steep feel to it, especially at the start. Yes it's single pitch, but the crag rounds at the top and at 45m you'll need to have solid rope management skills, and be good at spotting gear and making decisions en route. There is gear for the belays, but you'll need to hunt around for it, and your second will be well out of sight for most of the climb.

Woden's Face (Borrowdale) - Woden's Face Direct VS 4c

Quick to get to, and with a nice selection of climbs for a visit or two, but it's likely you'll be next to a school group and the crag can take longer to dry at the bottom compared to more exposed crags. Woden's Face Direct is an interesting and popular climb on smoother rock than many crags, surprisingly long and has an abseil from the large tree at the top.

Valley Multipitch

There are many excellent multipitch crags in the Lake District that I'd count as 'valley crags' - pretty quick to get to and often two to four pitches in length. Whilst some of these can be reached in under 15 minutes and feel pretty friendly, be sure to check out the descents properly and don't presume it'l be a casual, easy walk off just because it's low down!

Raven Crag (Langdale) - Bilberry Buttress VS 4c

A classic Lakes route and no pushover! The two bottom pitches always feel a little harder than I expect, but the hard sections are over pretty quickly and the whole route is varied with a good sense of exposure at the top.

White Ghyll (Langdale) - Slip Knot VS 4c

White Ghyll is an intimidating and impressive crag, big and blocky with care needed to move around. Slip Knot is just one of four 3 star VS routes there, each slightly different. The routes often weave around a bit, so you'll need to take care with rope work and use plenty of extenders, and you can plan your day around climbing in the shade or not. There are also a few different descent options so take the time to plan ahead.

Black Crag (Borrowdale) - Troutdale Pinnacle Direct VS 4c

Black Crag gets the afternoon sun, and once you've climbed the classic Troutdale Pinnacle, it's perfect for mixing in harder pitches and moving up the grades. Troutdale Pinnacle Direct offers lovely 'tick tacky' climbing up the central wall, feeling a little exposed but always ok. Bear in mind that some of the belay stations may get crowded on busy days, and the middle belay stance can take longer to find good gear on.

Wallowbarrow (Duddon) - Digitation VS 4c

Situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Lakes, Wallowbarrow is a great introduction to multipitch for many, offering big belay ledges and good quality lower grade climbs. Digitation is just one of many good VS climbs at the crag with two lovely, contrasting pitches.

Mountain Crags

The Lake District is famous for its mountain crags, and offers a brilliant selection of grades, route lengths, aspects, and accessibility. Don't be put off by the walk-in times - choose the right crag for the weather and enjoy great climbs, stunning views and memorable days. Below is just a small selection of the many great VS climbs on Lake District mountain crags.

Gimmer (Langdale) - North West Arete VS 4b, The Crack VS 4c, 'F' Route VS 4c

One of the best crags in the Lake District for its quality climbs, great rock, and amazing views. There are many excellent VS climbs at Gimmer, some long single pitch and some multipitch, all great for honing your decision making skills and getting good at moving slickly around a complex crag. Gimmer is quick drying and really does get the wind, so plan your day to make the most of the weather conditions and read through the guidebook in advance.

Dow Crag (Coniston) - Eliminate 'A' VS 4c, Murrays Route VS 4c

Eliminate 'A' is ranked as one of the best VS expeditions in the UK, with 6 pitches of continuous 4b and 4c climbing. The pitches are varied and weave through some impressive terrain. Murrays Route is a little shorter at 3 pitches and finishes halfway up the crag with a scramble descent. Maybe if you move fast on a long summers day you could have time for both?!

Kern Knotts - Innominate Crack VS 4b

High up in the central fells with some of the best views, but offering a more chilled single pitch experience than many of the bigger mountain crags, Kern Knotts is a great choice for a warm summers day. The rock is really grippy, and it has a great selection of climbs. Innominate Crack is a brilliant, well protected crack pitch. No intricate route finding can see it all from the ground!

Gable Crag - Engineers Slabs VS 4c

Exposed, high up, and with a scramble approach this wouldn't be my recommendation for a first mountain VS, but should definitely be on the list for those with more experience. A visit needs to be after a dry spell, and is best suited for hot summer days. The crag gets evening sun in the summer and can be really special climbing until late on sunny days.

Feel free to comment with any other favourite routes you'd like to recommend to others!

...and for any of you working towards RCDI qualifications, join our Facebook group 'RCDI - aspirants and trainees' for support, to hear of training opportunities, and to connect with others.


bottom of page