Scree Slopes

Scree Slopes

Scree slopes are best avoided as they pose danger to you and and further damage to the environment

Scree Slopes 

Scree Slopes

Scree is an accumulation of loose rock, of a similar size on a steep slope, which can be dangerous to walk on. It's dangerous because the rocks are unstable as they're only held in place by light contact with neighbouring rocks. 

Scree slope routes tend to be unnecessary short-cuts and are mostly easily avoided.


Avoid planning routes that descends a scree slopes.

Your weight in the wrong place can set off a river of rocks, taking you and your feet from under you, thence down the slope, and thus spoiling your day. Scree containing larger rocks is more dangerous as there's more potential to damage a hand, wrist or arm if breaking a fall, or ankle or lower leg if wedged in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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 Massive scree slope on south face of Great Gable;
 gully to west of Napes Needle

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Environmental Damage

A further reason to avoid scree, is that further rock slide causes irreversible damage to the micro environment. Think about it; the rocks in a scree have never been so close to the valley level and have taken millions of years to reach their present low altitude. 

Scree is also home to fragile habitats for rare plants, and needless screen surfing could damage such, as well as not pretty additions to the landscape. Check out links below.


Some well used paths may have become eroded over time, with short sections of path resembling scree slopes. In such situations proceed with care, where there is no alternative, so long as you're certain that you remain on the correct route. If the scree runs in a gully (high side walls), sticking to the side walls is often the safety place, giving you the opportunity use hand holds as well as deft foot placements.

If there is any doubt about the route, and especially in poor visibility, double check your location with a GPS unit if you have one, or retreat to safer ground and re-evaluate whether you've gone off course or perhaps chosen an imperfect descent (where you would be best advised to find an alternative).

Path Erosion

Due to the increasing popularity of the outdoors as a pastime, there are more pairs of boots pounding over our footpaths, in particular the iconic routes in our National Parks. The National Parks run footpath repair programmes to restore sections of paths and make good unsightly erosion. You can play your part by sticking to laid out paths, not taking a short-cut across the grass and in particular not walking on the grass right next to the laid path, thus avoiding turning the side of a mountain into an unsightly scree slope.

Below is an example of a path that's been laid out, only for people to cause erosion by by-passing it to the right. (The laid path is a little hard to see, but it starts bottom left and heads to the middle of the picture. Click on the image to enlarge.)
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  Erosion taking place on the Sty Head path of Great Gable

Naturally Occurring Scree

Some scree is either naturally occurring or has been in that state since before the effects of hill walking.

Screes on Pike 'O Stickle - with screes here most likely caused by activity at the neolithic axe factory

Screes on Rossett Pike - courtesy of Matt King