Meetings With Remarkable Mountains

15 March 2018

suilven

Suilven by Steve Bittinger via CC

Hillwalking on holiday need not be about chasing the biggest mountains, or ticking off peaks from a list. Munro bagging is indeed a worthwhile and rewarding pastime but by concentrating solely on hills over 914 metres then you can miss out on some remarkable days out and proper wilderness experiences away from the crowds. Here is our fantasy list for a holiday of hilly indulgence, a selection including the remote, the challenging as well as the accessible and family friendly. The one thing they have in common is that they are all truly remarkable mountains.

There are no Munros on the Hebrides and the only peak that qualifies as a Corbett (over 762 metres) is Clisham on Harris, but what a mountain it is. From the parking spot on the main road it is a 4 hour jaunt up and down but for a full day out you could consider the full horseshoe that takes in a number of lesser peaks. On a clear day you can see St Kilda and the complete string of islands that make up the Hebrides. Scotisay View Cottage is just a few miles away from the starting point and is a fantastic place to relax afterwards.

The prominent peak of the Tap o' Noth is the site of the second highest hillfort in Scotland. The remains here are suitable impressive and the summit offers a unique panorama over the otherwise flatlands of rural Aberdeenshire. It’s not tough going with relatively shallow gradients and an easy to follow path so it would a brilliant introduction to the joys of hillwalking for younger ones. Newseat is a brilliant family friendly home that is practically in the shadow of the hill. You can start your walk straight from the back door.

Suilven must surely be one of the most majestic peaks in Scotland. At a mere 731 metres high what it lacks in height it makes up for in drama and sheer presence. From Lochinver its distinctive silhouette looks imposingly steep, but this is in fact a deceptively straightforward day out for any fit and competent walker. An early start will ensure you can be back in the pie shop in Lochinver before it shuts. Culkein Lodge sits a short drive further up the North Coast 500, but is tucked away next to the water and off the main drag for maximum serenity and peace. It’s also a great base for exploring the other nearby Assynt hills if Suilven really gives you a taste of the high life.

The Borders is maybe not as famous as the Highlands for hills with its main hiking appeal being the long distance walking routes such as the Southern Upland Way. There is however some hidden gems to be sought out in the area. Donalds are classified as hills between 610m and 914m situated south of the Highland fault boundary. Nearly all of these can be found in the Borders and they offer a charming and tranquil alternative to the often crowded honeypot mountains that are easily accessible from the central belt. One of the finest is Cauldcleuch Head in the Cheviot Hills, the only summit in a large area of undulating moors. It’s just the other side of Jedburgh from Greenhill Lodge, itself sat in 7000 acres of heather clad hills that offers total privacy. Ideal for large get togethers the nearby Greenhill Cottage is also available at short notice for couples wanting a romantic getaway that is isolated but still accessible from the central belt for a quick but immersive weekend away.

The most easterly Corbett in Scotland is Mount Battock, it sits in contrast to the nearby Mount Keen which has a reputation for being the easiest Munro in Scotland and is consequently a magnet for hikers and mountain bikers. Mount Battock is a connoisseur’s hill, the path is not well defined and you will need to traverse the bleakest of peaty moors to get to the summit but for one of these edge of the world, no sign of civilisation experiences it can’t be beat. Glen Cruick is located at the end of the next glen along, it has hiking just out the back door and is such a comfortable retreat with a massive open fire that you may struggle to tear yourself away when it’s time to head outdoors.