The Most Dangerous Places in the UK

Mountain Survival
View of the Aonach Eagach Ridge in Glencoe, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock/Jen Campbell

Some of the most popular UK trails for walkers, hikers, and mountaineers are known as “black spots”, the places where the most accidents occur. Below, the most treacherous of them. They are the most dangerous places in the UK.

Snowdonia: 200 rescues a year

Wales’s Snowdonia National Park is perilous in spots and also incredibly busy. The Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team works around the clock answering over 200 calls annually, from mild injuries to fatal falls. The park averages eight deaths per year, mainly due to two specific black spots: Crib Goch and the Pyg and Miner’s Track scrambles.

For those who don’t know the term, a scramble is a little more than a hike and a little less than a climb. You don’t need ropes, but you have to use your hands at times. Scrambles offer varying degrees of exposure. Sometimes, a slip at the wrong place is fatal.

Scrambling the knife-edge on Crib Goch, Snowdon. Photo: Shutterstock

Crib Goch is Welsh for red ridge. It is an arete on pyramid-like Garnedd Goch, part of the Snowdon Massif. This scramble has a famously narrow section that is not technical but where the consequences of a slip are dire. This ridge becomes even more treacherous in bad weather or high winds.

The Pyg and Miner’s Track on Snowdon Mountain becomes icy in winter and it is very easy to misstep, especially on the jagged rocks. Ice axes are recommended on this stretch in winter. The route is also avalanche-prone.

Pyg and Miner’s track in winter. Photo: James Webb

The Cairngorms

In Scotland, the Aonach Eagach and the Cairngorm Plateau are two notorious black spots that receive more than 130 rescue calls annually. The Anoach Eagach also includes a treacherous scramble with a narrow, exposed ridge which becomes very slippery when wet.

A narrower section of rocky spikes called the Pinnacles is a black spot within this black spot. People who try to ease their way around the sides are usually the ones who call for help. People who opt to descend down Clachaig Gully may suffer a world of hurt in the loose scree. Descending via the Pap of Glencoe is safer.

Aonach Eagach Ridge in Glencoe, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock/Jen Campbell

The Cairngorm Plateau is probably the blackest of black spots in all the UK. Frequent avalanches are the least of its perils. Crosswinds up to 278kmph can blow people over the hard-to-spot edges. It is easy to get lost.

From the 1950s to 1960s, the plateau served as a training ground for rescue teams and even the Royal Air Force, but this stopped because of danger to the trainees! Snow blankets this exposed plateau throughout the winter, disorienting hikers and making the edges of the cliffs difficult to determine.

Mountain rescue teams get over 50 calls annually. It’s safest in summer, but even then, the weather can change so quickly and intensely that winter set in temporarily at any time.

The Cairngorm Plateau in Cairngorm National Park, Scotland. Photo: James Haston/Shutterstock

The Lake District

Because of the sheer number of visitors, England’s Lake District tops the list as the most dangerous place in the UK. Rescue teams respond to over 600 calls a year. The well-named Sharp Edge is a ridge on Blencathra, one of the Lake District’s most northern hills. It is another scramble with an exposed crux raked by crosswinds. It becomes as slippery as glass when wet.  While the ridge is short, it remains challenging for inexperienced visitors even on a clear summer day. Its reputation lures daredevils from all over the country. 

Sharp Edge, Blencathra in the Lake District. Photo: PhilMacDPhoto/Shutterstock

Lastly, Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, endures the worst visibility of any place in Britain. Cloud cover frequently disorients hikers, some of whom venture into Piers Gill, thinking that it is a viable descent route. It is actually an area — difficult for rescuers to access — that includes a plunging drop into a small canyon with a small stream. When wet, the rocks become polished and slippery, causing a lot of broken bones over the years.

The summit of Scafell Pike. Photo: Gregory Cully/Shutterstock


About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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