Total distance 3.5km | Total ascent 130m | Scramble rating Grade 2 | Go there when you have a dry morning or afternoon to play with
Nestled between Coniston and Little Langdale, Holme Fell is just 317m high. At its south-western corner Raven Crag hangs like a lolling tongue, its tip tantalisingly close to the clear fresh water of Yewdale Beck. The scramble up it starts from the single track road that threads through Yewdale, and which is already 110m above sea-level. This leaves just 207m of scrambling – less when you consider that the crag doesn’t quite stretch all the way to the fell’s summit. In fact, the scramble itself is only 130m from bottom to top, but that’s 130m of the finest scrambling to be found in Lakeland. It’s Grade 2 and offers some airy and exposed rock clinging; Cicerone’s Scrambling in the Lake District suggests novices might benefit from the security of a rope. For competent scramblers though, it’s a short, sharp shot of joy on a sunny day.
One thing to note: Raven Crag has access restrictions between 1 March and 30 June due to nesting birds. This is usually applicable to the steep climbers’ crags rather than the ridge scramble, but it’s worth checking the BMC website before heading for Yewdale. Assuming the birds don’t object, here’s how to tackle the scramble…
There are places to park along the narrow road below the crag; bear in mind that many of the lay-bys are passing places so don’t cause an obstruction. Leave the road via a stile where the wall by the road joins a fence just below the tip of the crag.
Follow the path up to a gully in the crags and begin the scrambling on slabs to the left. At the top of the gully, go to the right to find easier rocks leading on up the crag.
At a grass terrace, head over to the left to a pyramid of rock. On the right side of the pyramid is a groove. On the left side is a slab. Climb whichever you most like the look of!
Move over to the right to find a series of rock steps leading up steeper ground. Head up and right past a dark mossy streak on the rock to a sloping platform. A slanting rake climbs up to the left; ascend it to climb a steep section of rock then easier scrambling up left to a tower.
Climb the tower by a series of rock ledges and, with the steepest ground now behind you, clamber up easier rocks to a ‘tooth’ on the skyline. A break to the right of the steep wall below the tooth leads up to a stepped rib which climbs the tooth itself.
Above the tooth the scrambling is done. To head back to the car, cross the heathery knolls of Holme Fell (via its summit if you so wish) to Uskdale Gap and take the path that leads down towards Yew Tree Tarn before following it on to Glen Mary Bridge and Shepherd’s Bridge, from where you can take the Yewdale road back to your car.