THE FINEST UK MOUNTAINS, THE BEST RANGES, ONE LIST. OVER TO YOU.
ew of us will do everything we want to in our lives. Hill time is precious. So if you’re looking for the mountain challenge of a lifetime that will take you to every corner of the UK, you want every peak to count. You want every peak to take you somewhere new and deliver buckets of raw material for great mountain yarns. So here it is: a tick-list specifically designed to take you to every key mountain area in the UK and give you something really stonking to do there. There’s no height snobbery here – Ben Nevis shares list space with the Lakes’ Loughrigg Fell. The ropes ’n’ sweat epic of Skye’s In Pin shares the limelight with Yorkshire’s hour-up-and-down Roseberry Topping. Compiled by Trail’s panel of experts, this list will do two things for you: enhance your hill-walking, and give you a damn good time in doing so. And the best thing? You may have no Munros to your name, or you may be short of a hundred Wainwrights or so – but we virtually guarantee you’re in the 100 club already. How many have you done? How many do you have left? Take a look: this could be the start of something big...
1344m/4,409ft NN166712 An Alpine freak dropped into the central Highlands, Ben Nevis is quite unlike anything else in Britain. Complex, leaning buttresses veined with some of the finest climbing lines in Europe, a cavernous north face and an overwhelming, dizzying feeling of immensity put you strangely in awe of our tiny isles for every step of the ascent. Majestic, frightening and enormous fun all in one breath, it’s still one of the few mountains which, no matter how many times you climb it, you never really get the measure of. Best route via the Carn Mor Dearg Arête. From here, The Ben looks absolutely awesome. You said “The climb is like life’s journey: full of rough patches, but well worth the effort.” Gareth Barry
Ben Nevis and the Carn Mor Dearg Arête. Turn the page for 99 more mountain experiences as good as this...
26 TRAIL April 2007
April 2007 TRAIL 27
TRAIL 100 Ben Lui: ‘knockout.’
Sgurr a’ Mhaim and the Devil’s Ridge from Stob Ban.
Snowdon, seen from Moel Siabod.
Best route from Whitewell (NN916086), then on the Lurcher’s Crag path, for huge views of the Lairig Ghru.
Best route via the River Cononish from Tyndrum, then up by the north-east ridge.
Cairn Toul 1291m/4,237ft NN962972
Ben Cruachan 1126m/3,694ft NN069303
Arguably the most beautiful of the Cairngorms, Cairn Toul’s scything lines and deep-kicked corries hide many scrambles, climbs, wild camps and viewpoints. Remote and made almost an island by the lassoing headwaters of the Dee, the mountain’s most transcendent feature is the pyramidal of Sgor an Lochain Uaine – otherwise known as Angel’s Peak. Best route via the south-western ridge of Creag an Loch, a little scramble that gets you up in fine style. Start from Whitewell (NN916086).
Sentinel of the southern Highlands, such is the mighty presence of Ben Cruachan, this mountain was once thought to be Britain’s highest peak. Step onto its narrow, crotchety summit ridge punctuated with seven tops and towering over the appropriately named Loch Awe, and you can understand why our forebears were so impressed. Best route there are several approaches, but the classic horseshoe begins at the power station: NN077268.
Lochnagar: not a bad spot for a photo.
Ben Cruachan: once believed to be Britain’s highest.
Centrepiece of the Ring of Steall, as well as offering views on Ben Nevis’s least-seen southerly aspect, Sgurr a’ Mhaim is the crow’s nest of choice for the Mamore range – and the thrillingly exposed Devil’s Ridge that leads up to its summit. Stand on the top under an extensive blanket of snow and you could be in the Himalayas. Best route as the last peak of the Ring of Steall, via The Devil’s Ridge.
Schiehallion 1083m/3,553ft NN714547
Best route make a day of it and take the Five Sisters in a linear south-east to north-west skywalk.
Noble northern neighbour of Snowdon, and Wales’ second highest peak, the sheer bulk of the mightiest of the Carneddau is a stirring prospect – especially from the cauldron of Cwm Caseg.
Carnedd Llewelyn 1064m/3,491ft SH683644
Lochnagar 1155m/3,789ft NO243861
Best route from the north-west, via Yr Elen (SH683644).
Ben Alder 1148m/3,766ft NN496717
Ferociously remote and wreathed with whispers of supernatural happenings and nefarious on-goings, this impressively rugged and complex mountain requires commitment and perseverance just to get to its base. But a bothy and the feeling of being Way Away Out There more than make up for the stretch.
Majestic Lochnagar’s cleaved-in-half profile is by far the most spellbinding example of several similarly built Cairngorm peaks: half arctic plateau, half vertical cliff. Lochnagar is consequently home to possibly the most stomach-wrenching photo-spots in Britain.
Best route a route leaves from Dalwhinnie, but another leaves from the south at Bridge of Ericht (NN521582). Due to its remoteness, any attempt on Ben Alder is an expedition: a mountain bike is a good idea.
Best route from Spittal of Glenmuick (NO309851), via Meikle Pap.
Bidean nam Bian 1150m/3,773ft NN143542
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Sgurr na Ciche 1041m/3,415ft NM902966
An Teallach: barbed crown of Scotland’s north-west.
An Teallach 1060m/3,478ft NH063837
Liathach 1055m/3,463ft NG929579
Best route: clockwise, from Corrie Hallie at NH114850. You said: “I didn’t realise we had mountains as impressive as An Teallach. I’ve been trying to have hill days as good as that ever since.” Mark Laird
Best route like many of its neighbours, Liathach is another expedition peak: a complete traverse of the massif, east to west is the best way to appreciate it.
Notorious, mesmerising and utterly gripping, An Teallach – ‘The Forge ‘– has an aesthetic character of such snaggle-toothed menace it is an absolute must for any mountain adventurer. An Teallach is the north-west Highlands’ barbed crown: difficult, dangerous and home to terrifyingly exposed drops. But you can’t watch its sandstone glow red at sunset and not feel a pull.
Ladhar Bheinn 1020m/3,346ft NG821041
Screwed deep into the remote reaches of Knoydart, like the best here, Ladhar Bheinn is a fine mountain both to look at and climb. Its narrow ridges offer those intrepid enough to tackle it an immense-reaching view over the Rough Bounds, over Loch Hourn – and over some of the wildest mountains in Britain. Best route from the north via Coire Dhorrcail. Like most things about Knoydart, it ain’t an easy approach, but the mountain looks great from this aspect.
An Teallach’s spiritual cohort, Liathach is technical, committing and resplendent with legendarily precarious traverses. It’s hard to imagine a mountain that has as much sheer presence as Liathach: a rocketing mass of stepped sandstone standing sentrylike over the shores of Loch Torridon, and providing a fitting gateway to the north-west Highlands’ most transcendent mountain rockwork.
Beinn Eighe: bulky.
Beinn Eighe 1010m/3,314ft NG951611
This immense massif gives the impression of a huge volcano that has collapsed into itself, with massive, scooped corries facing north into the Torridonian wilderness. The result is a rim of sharp ridges, tall, knuckled buttresses and elegant scree slopes encircling its crowning top of Ruadh Stac Mòr. Best route the most scenically arresting is the route along the Coire Dubh Mor onto Ruadh Stac Mòr’s south ridge – then back via Spidean Coire nan Clach.
The Saddle 1010m/3,314ft NG934129
Glen Coe’s giant: a precipitous monster of raked, naked ridges thrusting from the legendary Clachaig Inn. A fitting and deserving crown to Scotland’s most famous outdoor playground. Best route leaving from NN168568, head between the Three Sisters and tackle Bidean via the best ridge for your abilities – for most, up via Stob Coire non Lochan, and down via Coire Gabhail. You said: “Perfect February winter mountaineering conditions, a challenging ascent and amazing views made this mountain unforgettable.” Sarah Crowe
The mighty Liathach.
Best route traditionally from Braes of Foss (NN753556).
The highest and sharpest of the Five Sisters of Kintail, this ‘Peak of the Wolf’ is the centrepiece of Glen Shiel’s most famous asset. Steep from the road, this impressive and very high ridge is best swallowed as one.
Best route A great way up is via the Llech Ddu spur, an underrated Grade 1 scramble up the extraordinary northern flank. A boulder at the bottom has been christened the Bivi Boulder (SH664636)
Best route the easiest approach is from the road head near Loch Arisaig. The best aspect on the mountain is from Druim a’ Ghoirten (NM895962) where you can appreciate the meaning of its name: ‘peak of the breast’.
The shape of this enchanting peak above Loch Rannoch is almost an optical illusion. It’s long and thin, so from the east and west it appears conical, from the north and south an Ayers-esque dome – and somehow manages to be magically elegant from wherever you look.
Sgurr Fhuaran 1067m/3,502ft NG978166
Though close by, the massive Carnedd Dafydd is a very different proposition than its slightly loftier brother – Carnedd Llewelyn – due to the prescence of the towering northern cliffs of Ysgolion Duon.
A witch-hat satellite on the edge of Knoydart, this impressive mountain sits between Loch Nevis and Loch Shiel. Difficult to get to, impressive to look at and home to few paths, this is a peak that provides a perfect antidote to the busier peaks of the east.
Alpine in looks and character, Ben Lui stands proud above its neighbours with a knockout visage: an impressive pyramidal profile, dented by a massive central gully which enhances its robust profile. Accessible by rail, road and from the southern town of Tyndrum, Ben Lui is one of southern Scotland’s truly great mountains.
Best route from Pen-y-Pass, via Crib Goch, the justly famous buzz-saw ridge on Snowdon’s east flank.
Sgurr a’ Mhaim 1099m/3,606ft NN164667
Smooth lines do not a pushover make, and the massive dome of Macdui is the finest example of how arctic Britain can be when winter bites hard. Navigationally perplexing all year and home to Britain’s deepest snow, the environments atop this Cairngorm edifice enter the realms of the other-worldly come winter. And in summer the views are fine enough to melt your face.
Ben Lui 1130m/3,707ft NN265263
Ben Macdui 1309m/3,169ft NN988989
Wales’ highest peak is every inch as impressive as its accolade suggests. From the east, it’s an massive triangle of rock draped with steep, thorny approaches that entertain right to the final steps. Evidence – as if any were needed – that a mountain with a train running up it is still very much a mountain.
Carnedd Dafydd 1044m/3,425ft SH663631
Ben Macdui: Scotland’s deputy.
The name is perhaps misleading, suggesting there is something flat, blunt and comfortable about The Saddle. The reality is that this mountain massif is a sharp, dramatic and entertaining proposition, whose most arresting feature is the razor ridge that provides its natural access point.
Ben Alder’s remote massive (left) beckons from afar.
Best route via the east Forcan Ridge from the car park in Glen Shiel (NG968143).
April 2007 TRAIL 29
TRAIL 100 Buachaille Etive Mòr
Ben Lomond: a huge taste of the Highlands.
Safety was frustratingly close. A mere 50m was all that separated us from the top of the steep snow gully and the path that led up to the summit of the Buachaille. But something was wrong underfoot. Climbing the last 200m of well-consolidated snow, we had been able to kick deep, positive steps, stopping only to dig avalanche pits as we moved up the slope. But here, tantalisingly close to the mouth of the gully, our boots started to crack through brittle, icy snow then sink into the powdery mush below. Buachaille Etive Mòr is a true mountain icon, a lonely, pyramidal sentinel at the entrance to Glen Coe and this was supposed to be a big tick on my mountain CV. But we’d been warned that our route was prone to avalanche, and as we finished digging our final test pit of the day, a thick slab of snow the size and weight of a portable TV slid easily away from the
mountainside. It meant one thing: avalanche risk was high. We needed to turn back. We knew this might happen. But instead of the wave of disappointment I had expected, there was strange feeling of pride. For the first time in my mountain career, I’d made a potentially life-or-death call based on my hill knowledge. Textbook theory had translated to a real hill environment and it might just have saved my life. Which is nice. So while I might not have the Buachaille on my Trail 100 tick-list, it is where my mountain confidence took a major leap.
Matt Swaine on the day he almost added the Buachaille to his Trail 100 tick-list.
Ben Lomond 974m/3,195ft NN367028
The most southerly Munro is the centrepiece of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Ben Lomond receives many visitors, but it is a fine eminence that gives a huge taste of the Highlands – and makes a perfect introduction to the vast landscape of mountains stretching north from its summit.
Best route the most accessible route leaves from Altnafeadh via Coire na Tulaich, but if conditions and ability allow, Curved Ridge (Moderate rock-climb) is outstanding. You said “The routes are all good. It’s a top-class mountain. Just do it.” Andy Holder
Best route an anti-clockwise horseshoe walk goes from Ardess and takes in the peak of Ptarmigan.
Ben More 966m/3,169ft NM525330
One of many reasons to visit the Isle of Mull, this Munro is often the one people leave until last – not because it’s difficult to get to, nor because it’s the one nobody wants to do – but simply because it’s a fine, fine way to end a challenge in style. The highest point is the east top of a near-symmetrical massif. Best route via the mountain’s choppy and cragged north-west ridge.
Scafell 964m/3,162ft NY205065
Surfing clouds on the Cantilever, Glyder Fach.
Glyder Fach 994m/3,261ft SH656582
One of Wales’ most interesting peaks, Glyder Fach is the natural continuation from Tryfan on the exciting Cwm Bochlwyd horseshoe, and it’s loaded with quirky diversions. From the splinters of Castell y Gwynt, the tempting surfboard promontory of the Cantilever Stone, immense northern cliffs and the raked spine of the exceptional Bristly Ridge, Glyder Fach is an utterly unique mountain experience for reasons all its own. Best route from Tryfan’s south descent onto Bristly Ridge – then a continuation over Glyder Fawr and down the north-east ridge of Y Garn: the connoisseur’s mountain horseshoe.
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Best route the scrambler’s way up is via the Great Stone Shoot between Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich. It’s a scramble-heavy walk, and starts at Glenbrittle House (NG411214)
Sgurr Dearg 986m/3,235ft NG444215
What makes the Black Cuillin peak of Sgurr Dearg unmissable is a splintered eight metre pillar launching from the main summit. More famously known as the Inaccessible Pinnacle, it’s the only Munro summit that requires unavoidable rock-climbing to achieve. The exposure on its top is truly chilling. Best route In Pin’s east ridge is the normal route up, and is graded as a Moderate rock-climb. Which means ropes, skills and climbing experience are required. You said “Probably the most ambitious day for the seasoned hill-walker who does not see themselves as a climber but wants to meet its challenge.” Evelyn Reid
A’ Mhaighdean 967m/3,173ft NH008749
Instantly recognisable for a reason that’s difficult to pin down, the twin-Munro massif of Beinn Alligin is one of Scotland’s great free-standing peaks, launching from the Torridon landscape with equal spectacle as nearby monsters Liathach and Beinn Eighe. A decapitated cone of horizontal sandstone ledges over Torridon’s characteristic, vertically-plunging precipices, the precipitous crescent ridge leading from Tom na Gruagaich is hill-walking at its most awe-inspiring.
The most remote of the Munros is secreted within a cauldron of peaks that make up the Letterewe Forest, and it’s said that the view from its summit is the finest from any Scottish peak. It’s a big expedition to get into this area – nicknamed the Great Wilderness – so a wild camp, competence and determination are all necessities if you want it this one in the bag. Which, as soon as you see it’s impressive profile, you will. Best route a walk-in from Poolewe and a wild camp at one of the nearby lochs is a fine way to attack this.
Best route a complete traverse, clockwise from Coire Mhic Nobuil.
Scafell Pike 978m/3,210ft NY215072
This broken, sheer summit of England is a fitting mirror to Ben Nevis: big, complicated, unpredictable and satisfyingly unlike anything nearby, banishing any hint of the anticlimax that could potentially be attached to the country’s highest point. A complex myriad of buttresses, crevices and a plateau top, the black ramparts of Scafell Pike also tower above some of the Lake District’s most beguiling scenery – not least the arresting emerald marsh of Great Moss. Best route from Wasdale Head, above Piers Gill. A diversion to the promontory peak of Pen (NY221067) is well worth it for the views over Great Moss and back to the Scafell massif.
Mickledore and Scafell from Scafell Pike.
Skye’s highest mountain – and centrepiece of the Black Cuillin, Britain’s most committing mountaineering traverse – is a spire of volcanic rock that looks impenetrable from every angle. While certainly no afternoon stroll, the way up isn’t as daunting as it first appears, via a sneaky mid-grade scramble that lands you on top of this most exceptional of Scottish islands.
Beinn Alligin 986m/3,236ft NG865612
Best route the Corridor Route, from Seathwaite (NY234112), via Broad Crag and Symonds Knott.
The third unmissable high point on the Black Cuillin – testimony to the variety of mountain experiences to be had on Skye’s backbone ridge, Sgurr nan Gillean is a difficult peak, with sharp, pinnacled ridges building to the most elegant summit in Scotland. Nearby, the blade of the Am Basteir tooth is another distinctive Skye landmark – perhaps the most instantly recognisable – you can link to this route if you have your mountaineering head on. Best route there is an easier scrambly way up this mountain, but mountaineers should link Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean in a pinnacled horseshoe from the Allt Dearg Mòr.
Helvellyn 950m/3,117ft NY341151
The quintessential Lakeland mountain, on a quiet, clear midwinter morning it’s as close to a perfect mountain experience as you’ll find in England. Famous for Striding Edge, an elegant scythe of sharpened rock descending from the summit of England’s third highest mountain. Red Tarn, the descent of Swirral Edge and the nearby peaks of Catstye Cam and Fleetwith Pike make any ascent of Helvellyn a slice of vintage Lakeland. Best route from Glenridding via Striding Edge, then down Swirral Edge.
Skiddaw 931m/3,054ft NY260290
A mountain of unmistakeable dominance over the northern Lakes, Skiddaw is from afar a brooding – but gentle – giant. Tackled from the right direction, however, Skiddaw begins to shift character into a steep, boulder-strewn monolith moated by cavernous valleys and approached by slender ridges which ascend to its wild, scree-cone summit. Best route via the ridge of Longside Edge, over the minor peak of Carl Side. Look left over the gaping corrie and up to the cindery top of Skiddaw on the way up.
Blaven (Bla Bheinn) 928m/3,045ft NG530218
From across Loch Slapin, Blaven looks like a fragment of the High Dolomites dropped onto Skye, and is regarded by many as the island’s finest mountain – high praise indeed, given the island. A sprawling, isolated mass of rock, Blaven rockets straight from sea-level, raked at a chilling angle above its surroundings. There is an easy way up to just tick the top, but a full traverse including the mini-Matterhorn of Clach Glas is one of Britain’s greatest mountaineering challenges. Best route for the summit alone, take the path from Loch Slapin. A full traverse is a serious benchmark in anyone’s eyes, and requires considerable experience.
The main Cuillin Ridge, including Sgurr Dearg (Inaccessible Pinnacle visible) and Coire Lagain, from Sgurr Alasdair.
ALAN GORDON/MOUNTAIN IMAGES
Sgurr Alasdair 992m/3,256ft NG450207
Often mistaken for its slightly taller neighbour – and mistakenly ignored by many just shooting for the high point – Scafell is every bit as impressive (many say more so) as Scafell Pike. Home to notorious, unstable ascents such as Lord’s Rake and the challenging scramble of Broad Stand, the climbing crags on the massive East Buttress lend the mountain the chaotic, jumbled appearance of a half-collapsed building.
Sgurr nan Gillean 964m/3,164ft NG471252
April 2007 TRAIL 23
TRAIL 100 Ben Hope 927m/3,041ft NC478501
Ben Hope’s noble title as Britain’s most northerly Munro suits its physicality perfectly: sharp, but not scary; impressive without being intimidating; dramatic yet achievable. With sub-arctic tundra stretching east, and Cape Wrath and the end of Britain to the north, summiting Ben Hope is a singular experience: it rises disproportionately to its surroundings, vastly higher than anything nearby. Conversely to Ben Lomond – as the most southerly Munro, a fitting bookend – your experience of Ben Hope is enhanced by the knowledge that almost every other mountain in Britain lies south. Best route via the south ridge from Alltnacaillich.
Elidir Fawr 924m/3,031ft SH612613
So much more than just the shell around primary school visit favourite The Electric Mountain – so named due to the power station within its bowels – Elidir Fawr is a fine peak on the north-west arm of the Glyders which, despite the huge development within it, manages to retain a dignified and unspoilt summit that is worth a visit in its own right.
A mere two feet below the 3,000ft mark and therefore forever marred by the unfair tag of being ‘almost a Munro’, there is little ‘almost’ about the non-numerical attributes of this mountain. This bulky monolith is reminiscent of Torridon – precipitous screes, scalloped corries and a long, superlative ridgeline walk. Best route from Airdachuilinn (NC296402) to the Bealach Horn, then up. You need a long day.
Beinn Dearg Mòr 910m/2,985ft NH030798
A jagged, twin-headed hill of a similar ilk to nearby An Teallach, Beinn Dearg Mòr is nonetheless a fine peak in its own right, rising abruptly from Loch na Sealga, and the nearby bothy of Shenavall. The sharp ridgeline offers great perspectives on its larger neighbour to the north-east. Best route from Corrie Hallie (NH114850). It’s an idea to stay at the perfectly situated Shenevall Bothy (NH065809) and climb An Teallach too.
Great Gable 899m/2,949ft NY212103 There are few mountains as historically fascinating, pleasingly gothic in aesthetics or twistingly complicated in nature as Great Gable. And there are few that harbour so many interesting nooks and famous diversions. Entire books have been written about Gable, and it adorns the labels of beers and the logo of the Lake District National Park Authority – in which it is accurately portrayed dominating the vista along Wast Water. It is a mountain whose greatest interest is to be found high on its flanks rather than its top – from Sphinx rock, the eerie maze of the Great Napes and the legendary Napes Needle, the Great Gully and the murky footprints of bootlegger Lanty Slee, whose derelict hut lies deep within the many folds of the mountain. Best route the ultimate has to be the Climbers’ Traverse from Seathwaite (NY235122)
Aran Fawddwy 905m/2,969ft SH862223
Among Wales’ most underrated giants, the Arans are a very quiet outpost of south-eastern Snowdonia, located within the lush greenery east of Cadair Idris. The mountain rises to an impressive height, forming part of a blunted ridge of three summits, home to many viewpoints from which to pause and gaze over the steep eastern cliffs. Best route The route towards the east face from Pennant (SH905123) is a grand way in. Some of the southern approaches are surprisingly vegetated.
Elidir Fawr: no power station in this view.
You said “A fantastic walk in a part of Snowdonia I wasn’t aware of.” Lindsay Comens
Best route via the fine Bwlch y Marchlyn ridge.
Foinaven 914m/2,998ft NC315507
Great Gable: ‘pleasingly gothic.’
Claire Maxted on the prickled marvels of Tryfan My mind is blank. I’m wobbling on one leg at on a chunk of granite higher than a 6ft bloke and as wide as a bath mat. This just-about-climbable pillar is affectionately known as Adam, and one over-sized leg stretch away stands its partner, Eve. At 915m on the summit of Tryfan, the drop between them makes my stomach lurch. One calf muscle twinge later I’m flying through the air towards Eve. On a clear day you can see these twin pinnacles, and their famous gap, from Llyn Ogwen below. And if you squint, Tryfan’s jagged outline does a very good impression of a side-on shot of Queen Victoria’s face. Frozen, Medusa-like at the end of the Glyders, the hard granite slabs jut out in all the right places to create the perfect replica of the old monarch’s profile. This is what shoves Tryfan well and truly into this list: there’s a heart-racing scramble to the top no matter which side you start your walk. Paths come and go up the popular north ridge – and I defy anyone to scramble it the same way twice, thrice, or ever again. You can climb Tryfan 100 times over and it’s different every time.
Best route via the superb north ridge.
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April 2007 TRAIL 89
Ben Arthur by a less iconic name, The Cobbler is Scottish Highland aristocracy, its devil-horned summit profile hinting at the technical climbing to be had on its top. The top block is famously prone to giving people the heebie-jeebies, and requires climbing ability to attain, being via a climb through
who spends a night on its summit will descend either a poet or a madman – or will die atop the mountain. The Cadair Idris massif is home to one of the best scrambles south of Scotland – the Cyfrwy Arête – as well as the magnificent horseshoe of Craig Cwm Amarch, highest point Pen y Gadair – and the creepiest little summit shelter in Wales. Best route The most dramatic approach is from the north, giving fine aspects on the Cyfrwy Arête and the steep northern cliffs.
For one silly, unshakeable reason, I always associate Bowfell with the end of the world. It’s all down to a chap I once had a chat with in the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, who seemed preoccupied with the notion that Langdale’s finest rocky asset would be a pretty fine vantage point, come the apocalypse. “It’s right in the middle, see,” he mused, a conspiratorial twinkle – or perhaps just a reflection from his brandy – dancing in his eyes. “It’s high, so you’d get a great view of it coming over the mountains.” Whatever and whenever this apocalypse may be, I could sort of see his point. Bowfell’s central, powerful poise over the Lake District is unmatched. But it’s the mountain’s aesthetics that first captured my affections. It has a feeling of broken grandeur, like a much higher mountain that’s fallen down and into ruinous disrepair, its defining feature – the Great Slab – a magnificent scar across its east face. The first time I saw Bowfell was from High Raise. The sun, shining on its icy quartz, had turned the Great Slab into a diagonal mirror cutting the mountain in two. 34 TRAIL April 2007
“What’s that?” I’d asked. “That’s Bowfell,” came the reply. “Wow,” I said. Wow, indeed. The last time I was up there was under a blue sky beneath migrating clouds and a gentle, chilly wind that seemed seconds from snow. For the first time, I wandered onto the slanted precipice of the Slab itself, and found myself falling in love with Bowfell all over again. Everything about it: the grassy approach up The Band, that view of the Langdale Pikes, the Three Tarns just before the final ascent, the fact that the summit has nooks beneath it where you can grab a cuppa – everything. And every time I go back up it, I find something new to add to the list. This time it was an impressive, stormy view into Great Moss, tinged with clouds and backlighting the Scafells into misted, crenellated silhouettes. On the summit, I found a nook, pulled out my flask, and drifted. It’s a position of power: everything seems lower. Less significant. And though it’s a silly thought, sit on the top and you realise Bowfell wouldn’t just be a good place to watch the apocalypse: up here you feel like you might even have a fighting chance. Best route via The Band, from Langdale.
Anciently thought to be the haunt of evil spirits, Cross Fell is the highest peak in England outside the Lake District, and it never ceases to surprise in its scale. Cross Fell itself is part of a high plateau, which proffers a fine wilderness feel and tough navigation. Listen for the local phenomenon called the Helm Wind: a channelled eastern gale given an eerie voice by the hillside gullies. Best route from Kirkland, a route heads up the west flank – an interesting mix of boulders and scree.
Cadair Idris 893m/2,930ft SH711130
Y Lliwedd 898m/2,946ft SH622533
The ‘chair’ of ancient giant Idris, Cadair is another mountain steeped in mythology. Legend says anyone
Arguably the finest piece of rockwork in its illustrious setting, Y Liwedd is a nerve-snappingly sheer, brokenfaced ridge bowed into a snaggle-toothed leer above the Snowdon horseshoe. With a history inexorably linked with Everest – Mallory, Irvine, George Band and Edmund Hillary all prepared for expeditions here – Y Lliwedd is a mountaineer’s peak when taken side-on, but can be enjoyed by all with a head for heights as part of a bigger walk from either end. Most people approach Lliwedd from the north-west end. Best route link it to Snowdon and Crib Goch in an anti-clockwise assault on the justly most famous horseshoe walk in Britain.
Best route actually from Wasdale, as you get to see both sides of the mountain – and experience the full effect of Ennerdale emerging into view over the ridge.
Pen y Fan 886m/2,907ft SO011215
The Brecon Beacons rank among some of Britain’s most distinctive mountains, with plane-cut edges, horizontal terraces and flat summits defining their elegant profiles. There are many fine mountains in south Wales, but viewed from Brecon, Pen y Fan is the highest and the most instantly beguiling. Combined with a walk up Cribyn – to make the most of the dramatic north face – this is south Wales’ most scenically spectacular walk.
You said “My first view of The Cobbler was silhouetted against the evening sky with clouds swirling around its three summits. What a superb peak it is.” Bob Tarzey
Garbh Bheinn 885m/2,903ft NM904621
A shapeless mass of buttresses and pinnacles, Garbh Bheinn is the most impressive mountain in the quiet, very mountainous western Highland hinterland of Ardgour, south of Glenfinnan and west across the loch from Fort William. Best route north-east from Inversanda straight onto the south-east ridge of the mountain, then back through Coire an Iubhair, where a fine view of the north-east crags gives a satisfying view of your conquest.
Goatfell 874m/2,867ft NR990414
The highest point of the Isle of Arran and Scottish in all but name, Goatfell’s ascending ridges have an approach for every level of walker. These unite at a summit that holds a magisterial perspective on the other southern islands as well as over its own, with views down the spines of nearby peaks Cir Mhor and the A’Chir ridge visible from its summit. Best route the Glen Rosa horseshoe is an exceptional – if technical – way to bag Goatfell and nearby Beinn Tarsuinn. Access is from Brodick (NR005368).
Fairfield 873m/2,863ft NY358117
Best route the full horseshoe, from the south. Park in Taf Fechan Forest at NY369134.
A hunched gorilla of a mountain, Fairfield holds dominant sway over the Lakeland cuttings of Grisedale and the Rydal valley at the head of two fine horseshoe walks. The summit is a chevron-shaped plateau whose north face collapses into a myriad of crags and buttresses that belie its bulky but gentle profile from the south. Truly a mountain of two very distinct moods, and one of the very finest viewpoints in the Lake District.
You said “Perfect: excellent views across the valley while the country was frozen in fog.” Andy Kennedy
Best route the classic Fairfield horseshoe, from Rydal. It’s a classic for a reason.
Pen y Fan: ‘elegant’.
Approaching Pen y Gadair, Cadair Idris.
Simon Ingram on why Bowfell would be a great place to watch the apocalypse.
Cross Fell 893m/2,930ft NY687342
On the summit of Bowfell, overlooking Great Moss.
The traverse of this stunningly remote cliff face above Ennerdale is considered by many to be the finest high-level mountain path in the Lake District. Its unique position between two of Lakeland’s most squirrelledaway valleys within jumping distance of the country’s highest peaks, and its Alpine character make it a superlative target with the power to surprise anyone who thinks they’ve ‘seen it all’ in the Lakes.
Best route you need to see The Cobbler in its full glory – and to do that you need to approach from Succoth (NN295055).
Pillar 892m/2,927ft NY174122
an enclosed gap known as ‘threading the needle.’ Massively charismatic.
The Cobbler 884m/2,899ft NN259058
April 2007 TRAIL 35
TRAIL 100 Moel Siabod.
Merrick 843m/2,766ft NX427856
Any description of the Southern Uplands eminence of Merrick can’t omit the theatrical glee inherent in this area. The highest finger of ‘The Awful Hand’, Merrick dominates this eloquently christened part of Scotland’s Southern Uplands in a unique, very wild range of mountains. Aesthetically the peak is a fine piece of rockwork, with a sharp north ridge fittingly labelled ‘Little Spear’. Nearby is the Murder Hole, a deep lake said to never freeze, and the whole place is an expanse of isolated trails and remote bothies. Deeply underrated.
Moel Siabod 872m/2,861ft SH705546
A truly great mountain of north Wales’ heartland is this most southerly of the Carneddau, fittingly nicknamed the Podium of Snowdonia. Its climax is an elegant rock promontory that stretches towards the summit rocks and gives a revelatory view of Snowdon and its horseshoe. Best route via its cracking little south-east ridge – an easy Grade 1 scramble.
Blencathra 868m/2,848ft NY323277
Second only to Striding Edge, the rabid ridge that stretches up onto Blencathra is the most famous scramble in the Lakes. Sharp Edge is best appreciated in winter, when its verglas and crosswinds make it a harzadous – yet unremittingly exciting – way onto this Lakeland classic, and is a favourite of many mountaineers. Best route indisputably, Sharp Edge (NY326283). Arguably, via Hall’s Fell Ridge (NY325274) – a steep, direct ascent that is slightly less exciting – but far quieter.
Blencathra: ‘unremittingly exciting.’
Jeremy Ashcroft on why familiarity breeds affection. Ingleborough’s flat-topped profile has been part of my life for more years than I care to remember. I see it every day from my home and as I go about my day-to-day life. I am out on it at the very least once a week in all imaginable conditions and at all times of day and night. I do like my climbing, and although there are a few crags on its flanks these are not the main attraction. Primarily it’s walking territory with well-trodden and popular paths in places, and utterly wild and untouched routes in others. Every side has fascinating close-up detail, and every change of aspect presents stunning distant views. As a bonus (well, for me at least) when I feel the need to do something different outdoors it also gives me the chance to lug my mountain bike to its summit then descend it like a thing possessed and also indulge in subterranean adventure in one of Britain’s greatest cave systems. After all this time I have never tired of its company, and I always appreciate what it gives me. The type of long-lasting regard I have for it is, by my standards, the measure of a truly great mountain.
Best route from Loch Trool (NX415804), then returning via Loch Enoch.
St Sunday Crag 841m/2,758ft NY369134
Like a weightlifter hunched over a barbell, the burly St Sunday Crag is immediately arresting from its Grisedale approaches. On the mountain’s north face there lives a feature that fits this sharpened profile perfectly: Pinnacle Ridge, one of the Lake District’s great nerve-chewers.
Best route from Clapham via Trow Gill, over Little Ingleborough
Best route it’s for Grade 3 scramble enthusiasts only, but they don’t get better than Pinnacle Ridge (NY369134) You said “Almost my best day out ever, scrambling Pinnacle Ridge, Xmas Week 2005. As the clouds came down the valley below disappeared into the swirling snow. It felt like the Eiger.” Turns, via the Trail Forum
Cadair Berwyn 827m/2,729ft SJ072324
Hurled in a forgotten corner of north Wales, the Berwyns are an oft-ignored gem just outside the National Park boundary. A high, rocky ridge links the more or less equal highest points of Cadair Berwyn and Moel Sych, and resembles a perfect transition between the bouldery summits of Snowdonia and the sweeping ridges of the Brecon Beacons.
Grasmoor 852m/2,795ft NY174203
Steep and sudden, Grasmoor rises tall above Buttermere and is one of the Lakes’ most underrated mountains. The north face is steep and sheer, the south slopes steep and grassy, and the summit a crow’s-nest that offers vertiginous views to the west – accentuated by the fact that this is the last big mountain before the Lake District slides into the Irish Sea.
If you head for Arran, have already climbed Goatfell or would like to have the pants scared off you, the traverse
of Beinn Tarsuinn, Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail is where you need to head. This is one of Scotland’s most difficult mountain traverses, the A’Chir ridge in particular being an exciting and technical rock-climbing epic.
Askival: highest point of island heaven.
Best route can be linked to Goatfell in the Glen Rosa Horseshoe, but a linear traverse over all three peaks then descending into Glen Sannox is a fine mountaineering expedition.
Best route a steep but beautiful and very direct ascent from Crummock Water (NY162192) via Lad Hows.
The Cheviot 815m/2,674ft NT905205
Slieve Donard 849m/2,786ft J358276
England’s extremities grade into Scotland’s infancy a mere two kilometres west of this hill – which is also the spot where the Pennine Way breathes its last gasp 268 miles after beginning in Edale, in the Peak District. This is one of the wildest areas of England: besieged by north-easterly winds and stripped clean of features, The Cheviot is a pleasingly remote taste of England’s far north, worth experiencing if only for the bleak landscape in which it sits.
Best route from Newcastle, along the Glen River meeting the Mourne Wall about a kilometre from the summit.
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Commanding crown of Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard plays host to the Mourne Wall, named after the mountain range it bisects – of which this is the highest. Slieve Donard is a fine hill, but the real reason to make this journey is the view. Being a coastal mountain, it’s as close as you can get to a perfectly positioned viewpoint of the Lake District’s highest peaks, Dumfries and Galloway, Snaefell on the Isle of Man, the Scottish island monolith of Ailsa Craig and an extraordinary view of Arran.
Best route to avoid the more or less paved Pennine Way and approach from Langleeford, to the north-east.
Askival 812m/2,664ft NM393952
Coniston: this Old Man still packs a punch.
Highest mountain of Rum, the twisted black pyramid of Askival is the best thing about a stunning island. Rum’s isolation, unspoilt landscape and tiny population is almost inconceivably undeveloped for city-lovers, but for hankerers after adventure it’s unbeatable in Britain. This place is like Jurassic Park – for mountains. Best route Askival is in the Rum Cuillin, a circuit of fine mountains serviced by an excellent seaside bothy at Dibidil (NM392928).
High Stile 806m/2,644ft NY167147
Sculpted and sharpened, High Stile and the neighbouring ridge-linked peak of High Crag are like scaled-down versions of Scottish giants An Teallach and Liathach jumbled into a uniquely Lakeland setting, nestled quietly above Buttermere. A fine mountain more often admired than climbed. Best route a superb horseshoe also taking in Red Pike and Seat leaves from Gatesgarth (NY195145)
Beinn Tarsuinn 826m/2,710ft NR959412
Best route the ridge begs to be tackled as one, and for the impressive frontage of the east face, head north from Tan y Pistyll any way you can, then at SJ080337 turn onto Cadair Berwyn’s north-east ridge.
Coniston Old Man 803m/2,634ft SD272978
A ‘lazy Lakeland gent’ is how many would prefer to view Coniston Old Man, other than Wainwright who used the violent term ‘mutilated by quarries’ to describe it. Nevertheless, this is a magnificent hill, dominating the serene waters of the nearby Coniston Water at the head of a superb inverted-Y walk, which includes Swirl How and Dow Crag. Once in the shelter of the mountain’s bulk, the huge cliffs and teardrop lake of Goat’s Water provide a superlative wild camp. Best route the aforementioned walk, from Coniston.
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TRAIL 100 Quinag 808m/2,651ft NC209291
Pike of Stickle 709m/2,324ft NY274073
Quinag seems to occupy a part of north-west Scotland where misfit mountains quite unlike any other are flung, unwittingly creating a place which contains without question the most iconic mountains in Britain. With neighbours such as Stac Pollaidh and Suilven, Quinag is from the north a startling triangle of seeming impenetrability, from other directions a sprawling massif radiating ridges of varying difficulty.
The Langdale Pikes are the best-known of the Lake District’s fells, for reasons of their aesthetic charisma, views and the history ingrained into their rockwork. Pike of Stickle was the site of a prehistoric axe factory, and its gothic rockwork is thick with atmosphere. Up here it’s impossible to not let your mind drift. Best route from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel (NY292064) in Langdale.
High Street 826m/2,710ft
Best route most walkers enter Quinag’s fortress from the south-east, striking the main ridge at the Bealach a’ Chornaidh (NC239293).
Mynydd Drws-y-coed 695m/2,281ft SH548518
So called due to its history of playing host to a Roman road from Penrith to Ambleside, this massive whaleback dominates the scenery of the Eastern Fells, and is home to hill forts and stone circles that attest as much.
Fan Brycheiniog 802m/2,631ft SN825218
Isolated from the Brecon Beacons and rising from the seemingly limitness bogs of the Black Mountain, Bannau Sir Gaer’s raked ridgeline and the lake nestled in its eastern cwm is a fine example of wild south Wales. It’s an elegant wedge, corduroyed with sandstone terraces and green moleskin vegetation.
This mountain is the higlight of the Nantlle Ridge, a great Snowdonia traverse. It’s a fine spot, and has a superb little scramble onto its top, where you can admire the rest of this impressive, summit-buttressed ridge – a modest masterpiece of the eastern National Park.
Best route though purists will want to trace its full course, by far the most dramatic approach is up Riggindale Crag, a beautifully linear ridge ascending from easily accessed Mardale Head (NY440110)
Best route if you don’t fancy a complete traverse, climb this hill via the sailfish fin-like north-east ridge.
Best route link it with fine neighbouring wedges Bannau Sir Gaer and Fan Foel from the lonely pull-in at SN825218.
Best route as the highlight of the Coledale Round, a horseshoe from Braithwaite.
Beinn an Oir 785m/2,576ft NR498749
Best route brilliant when taken as part of the Greenburn Horseshoe – via Hell Gill Pike and Swirl How from Langdale (NY275013).
The highest of the ‘Paps’ – arrestingly conical, screecovered peaks which, apart from the distillery, are the defining feature of the Isle of Jura. This mountains on this island are, in true Highland style, quite unique to it, and are very dramatic when viewed from Argyll.
Moel Hebog 782m/2,566ft SH565469
A complex, free-standing hill south-west of Snowdon, Hebog is a fascinating, warted eminence which has more faces than a dice. Uninteresting on its west side, the northern and eastern approaches are home to complex buttresses and steep scrambles in a solitude that is a salve to Snowdon’s bustle.
Best route from the car park at the Nant-y-Moch reservoir (SN756861).
Rhobell Fawr 734m/2,408ft SH786256 GRAHAM THOMPSON
Best route can be combined with Great End into a fine circuit from Seathwaite.
Best route leave from Croesor, choose any route that takes in the mine ruins of Cwm Croesor; they are well worth a detour. You said “A mountain with something for all, from laid back sun drowned slopes to glistening easy scrambles and an impressive summit. Brilliant.” Owain ap Hywel
Arenig Fach 689m/2,260ft SH820415
Best route can be swallowed in a fine circuit up Easedale from Grasmere (NY280095).
Known by a multitude of names – another being Plynlimon – Pumlumon is often regarded as Wales’ greatest lost massif. Excluded from Snowdonia National Park – and denied its own – Pumlumon, meaning ‘five peaks,’ is therefore free of the trappings of crowds and popularity and remains one of Wales’ wildest areas.
On the eastern jaw of Borrowdale, Glaramara is Lakeland on a grand scale. Nearby lurk deep chasms such as Hind Ghyll, challenging hands-on ascents and a twin-headed summit that provides much in the way of entertainment.
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Regarded as the central hub of the Lake District, High Raise – while largely unremarkable in itself – does indeed hold a commanding view over the Lake District, with the vista incorporating Skiddaw and Blencathra, the little-seen backside view over the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell, the Scafells and east to the Helvellyn range. Visit its summit as a relative stranger to the Lakes, and you can feel you’ve truly been in the nucleus of the National Park.
Pumlumon 752m/2,467ft SN789869
Glaramara 783m/2,568ft NY246104
The most shapely of the Coniston peaks, Wetherlam’s situation at the southern edge of Langdale makes its views extraordinary – described succinctly by
The humbling Quinag.
Wetherlam from Pike o’Blisco.
Best route to the north lies the cool shade of the Beddgelert Forest which provides a nice contrast to the airy upper reaches. A good park spot is at SH571525.
Wetherlam 762m/2,502ft NY288011
Startling, entertaining and deeply satisfying, Cnicht is a fine, sharp peak in central Snowdonia whose ascent involves a fine scramble onto a compact summit. Its puncturing profile is a stirring sight from the roadside, and its location – among the surreal, historic ruins of the Cwm Croesor mine workings – makes a circuit of Cnicht a unique way to spend an afternoon.
High Raise 762m/2,500ft NY280095 TOM BAILEY
Best route An expedition over the three peaks is a classic island expedition, approached from the southeast from the head of the Corran river.
Cnicht 689m/2,260ft SH645466
Wainwright as like a ‘giant whale surfacing above waves of lesser hills.’ When you see it, you’ll agree.
Among Wales’ most remote mountains, the craggy jumble of Rhobell Fawr tempts many but few bother, as it requires a mini expedition over largely pathless ground to reach it. Once there, lovers of solitude will find this lonely outpost of Snowdonia difficult to beat. Best route from Capel Hermon (SH748255).
Remote and surrounded by the Migneint bog, the Arenigs are mountains that require effort to get to. But once there, the beautiful chaos of these isolated mountains are really quite beguiling, and proffer a feel absent among Snowdonia’s taller, less remote summits.
Of a myriad of peaks laying claim to the title ‘Lakeland Matterhorn’, Grisedale Pike’s case is perhaps the most convincing. Less accessible than most peaks, this is a fine, tapering point of a hill. A minor classic.
Grisedale Pike 791m/2,593ft NY198225
Best route a path leads from the roadside at SH820415 into the Migneint.
Suilven’s unmistakeable outline dominates Assynt.
Suilven 731m/2,398ft NC153183
Suilven is the most iconic mountain in Britain. Side-on, its domed frontage seems so dramatically bowed towards the Assynt lochland that it looks as though it is overhanging, and end-on it’s rake-thin and technical, more than making up for its modest height. It’s remote, but there is something so magically unique about the mountains in this area of the far north (there are three in this list) it is more than worth the stretch. Best route from Inverkirkaig (NC085193). From here, the profile of the mountain – when it finally comes into view – is staggering.
Rhinog Fawr 720m/2,362ft SH656289
The higher of the most interesting Rhinog twins, Rhinog Fawr is all steep, broken flanks, cracked slabs and difficult ground. Its summit is a pleasingly lofty point from which to gaze over this wild outpost of Snowdonia, which few visit and fewer frequent. Those who do will be pulled to this and Rhinog Fach, and rightly so: they are everything that mountains should be. Best route leave from Cwm Bychan (SH647314) for the ‘deep in wilderness’ feel.
The Calf 676m/2,218ft SD667970
The Howgills are a compact mountain group in eastern Cumbria on the ‘other’ side of the M6 – seen close-up by millions of people passing north and south, but climbed by the merest fraction of them. Steep, dramatic and empty, the Howgills are a fine target for even serious mountain walkers – and this, their highest point, is a serene, centrally situated place to aim for. Best route from Gaisgill in the north, via the silent, non-Yorkshire Dales National Park area of the Howgills.
April 2007 TRAIL 39
Best route a path leaves the road at SH845156.
High Pike 658m/2,157ft NY318350
Strung out in the Northern Fells – a place where many walkers, climbers and the odd world- famous mountaineer have found themselves lost – the elegant High Pike is the best excuse to journey here. Best route ascend from Mosedale (NY318350).
Place Fell 657m/2,154ft NY405169
Perched above Ullswater, Place Fell’s south-western flanks harbour a slew of crags where some fine, uncommitting scrambling can be had. Place Fell’s biggest draw is the view from its top – a uniquely positioned panorama over Helvellyn, Fairfield, St Sunday Crag, Skiddaw, Blencathra and the whale of High Street. Best route from Patterdale, up the south-west flank.
Kinder Scout 636m/2,088ft SK085875
Boggy and desolate, an ascent of Kinder onto its high, wind-battered tabletop is best in winter, and confirms the Peak District’s hills are well worth exploring. Best route via Jacob’s Ladder (SK087862), with a visit to Kinder Downfall. If the bog is frozen, flex your navigation muscles and traverse the plateau. You said “A beautiful part of the world with amazing views and landscape features all the way up – watch out for the playful grouse too!” James Hitchcock
Less of a hill, more of a state of mind, Bleaklow is surrounded by interestingly varied terrain and many distractions. Famed for UFO sightings, an aircraft crash and the wind-sanded boulders on its top, Bleaklow has an inescapably creepy air about it. Best route from the west, from Glossop.
Yewbarrow 628m/2,058ft NY173085
Shaped like the upturned prow of a boat, Yewbarrow is second only in recognisability to Great Gable, which it’s often mistaken for as both adorn the Lake District National Park logo. The summit is transcendent as a viewpoint – and running distance from Wasdale Head Inn, which pumps Yewbarrow Ale.
Best route straight up the east ridge.
Moel Ysgyfarnogod 623m/2,044ft SH659346
The wildest part of a wild place, this northern Rhinogs eminence sees few footprints. It’s a jumble of vegetation and rocky outcrops away from the beeline peaks which snare the few walkers who head for this quiet, rugged area of Snowdonia. Best route leave the track from Cwm Bwchan at SH659332 – then scramble north any way you can.
Yes Tor 619m/2,031ft SX582900
Dartmoor is a huge, high-level plateau scattered with over 150 granite tors that make for excellent walking, scrambling and climbing targets. Dartmoor is a spooky, wild place dotted with military installations, and Yes Tor – while not the highest point – is certainly a highlight. Best route from Okehampton, combined with the nearby High Willhays.
On Place Fell, looking over towards Fairfield.
When you’ve climbed the world’s highest mountains including K2, Everest and Kangchenjunga, where do you go for your next mountain fix? “When I finished climbing all 14 of the 8000m peaks, people naturally asked me what was next,” says mountaineer Alan Hinkes. “No one expected me to say Stac Pollaidh.” But if it wasn’t for this diminutive peak, located in the north-west Highland of Scotland, Hinkes may never have even pulled on a pair of climbing boots.
Black Combe 600m/1,970ft SD135854
Haystacks 597m/1,958ft NY193131
Wainwright’s resting place, Haystacks has, without question, something about it. Often dismissed as a mere knoll, Haystacks has fine north-west cliffs, serene Blackbeck Tarn – and just a lovely feel to it.
Sugar Loaf 596m/1,955ft SO273187
Instantly recognisable and temptingly steep, Sugar Loaf is a modest yet charismatic mountain. Free-standing, it somehow pulls off looking totally different yet completely at home in the rolling south Wales scenery in which it sits. Best route north from the car park at SO268167
Worcestershire Beacon 425m/1,394ft SO768452 TOM BAILEY
Helm Crag: bag the one Alf didn’t.
Despite being the terminal peak on a long ridge, this Ulpha Fells hill feels independent. Within by far the quietest area of the Lakes, from the west, this is the first rampart of England’s greatest mountain heartland. Best route under the eastern corries from SD152846.
Best route up Scarth Gap from Peggy’s Bridge.
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“I remember seeing the mountain when I was studying geography at school,” says Alan. “I thought it was fantasticlooking, but I realised I was going to need scrambling skills at the very least to climb it. In many ways, it was Stac Pollaidh that got me into climbing because I wanted to learn the skills required to get to the top.” At a modest 612m, Stac Pollaidh is a long way off Munro status, but it has earned its place in the Trail 100 thanks to its castle-like ramparts. “It wasn’t until September last year that I finally got to the top, and there’s no doubt that you need scrambling skills to get tthere. It might be small, but we were treated to stunning views out across Inverpolly Forest
How Stac Pollaidh inspired Alan Hinkes to head for the biggest mountains on earth.
A magnet for contour-loving midlands-dwellers, this hill’s bewildering squid of trails when viewed on an OS map would put many off. Don’t be fooled: the summit’s a fine place indeed, offering unobstructed views into Wales. Best route park at SO769440 and head north.
across to Suilven and Quinag. It was definitely worth the wait and then, after we’d climbed it, we ended up walking across Scotland from Ullapool. “People often ask me if I can really train for the Himalayas in Scotland, but I tell them that really it’s the other way round. I go climbing in the Himalayas so that I can enjoy walking in Scotland. They think I am joking... but I really mean it.” Best route via the east from the car park at NC108095. You said “An almost perfect miniature mountain. I met a Munro-bagger once who wouldn’t climb it because it wasn’t big enough. His loss.” Neil Barnett
Helm Crag 405m/1,329ft NY327093
Notable for the Lion and the Lamb – a jaunty tower of rock that protrudes from the summit of this junior classic standing proud as the only Wainwright the great man didn’t have the bottle to stand astride. So if you like exposure, Helm Crag is an ideal opportunity to get one over on old Alf. GRAHAM THOMPSON
A completely different world to the rest of Snowdonia, Maesglase is a giant of swirling contours in the tranquil Dyfi Forest. The dramatic crags of this unexpectedly impressive mountain are split by a huge waterfall.
Bleaklow 633m/2,077ft SK092959
Maesglase 674m/2,211ft SH822151
Yewbarrow, with Great Gable behind.
The unique Maesglase.
Best route from Grasmere, on a round of Greenburn.
Loughrigg Fell 335m/1,101ft NY347051 Hound Tor 414m/1,358ft SX742790
One of the most impressive of Dartmoor’s tors (along with nearby Haytor Rocks), Hound Tor is also one of the most accessible, in Dartmoor terms at least. Its cracked, broken walls are said to resemble a pack of dogs. This is a scrambler’s heaven – in the middle of Devon. Best route park at SX739793
Clougha Pike 413m/1,355ft SD544595
Seen from the M6, Clougha is a nub worthy of little attention beyond an acknowledging nod. But dive off the road and climb it (it only takes an hour) and from its summit you are confronted by a jaw-flooring vista into the Forest of Bowland, one of Britain’s great forgotten wildernesses, pocketed in deepest Lancashire where few would bother to look. Best route from the car park at SD544595.
The hill that many visitors to the Lake District climb to say they have climbed a hill, and that has introduced more people to the delightful lunacy of hill-walking. With a cave, scrambly rocks, corking views and within staggering distance of fine cream teas in Ambleside, drag a hill-walking virgin up Loughrigg on a fine day and – guaranteed – the bug will bite. Best route from Rothay Bridge, Ambleside (NY347051)
Roseberry Topping 320m/1,049ft NZ579125
A source of bottomless affection for many, the last entry on this list packs a punch on a par with many of the taller entries in terms of presence. Rising above Yorkshire, Roseberry Topping’s hooked profile is at once iconic and alluring, the eyes unconsciously wandering over its rocky flanks in search of possible routes to the top. Which is what all the good hills do. Best route from NZ570128. The route starts at a pub. You said: “I could see it from the back bedroom when I was a lad in Middlesbrough and always enjoyed it: one of the best mountainous tops in the country. I just love it.” � Tony Greenwood
April 2007 TRAIL 41
The finest UK mountains, the best ranges, one list. Over to you.