Small Hills, Big Views
Munro bagging, the recording of ascents of all the mountains of Scotland over 910 metres, has become increasingly popular in recent years. The number of Munros is however finite and increased numbers of walkers on the same paths up them have caused many to shy away from the most popular summits. There are currently 282 mountains listed as Munros and in their rush to tick off every one in order, to complete a much coveted “round”, many walkers are missing out on some amazing days out on slightly smaller but not as famous peaks. This is our quick guide to some of our favourites.
An accurate measurement of its height in 2007 revealed Foinaven to be just 12 foot short of the magic 3,000 foot mark required to be classified as a Munro. This however should in no way diminish the mountain or deter intrepid walkers. Located in the north-west corner of Scotland, this is indeed a relatively inaccessible hill but it stands proud with the best views in the area.
When combined with its slightly smaller neighbour, Arkle, it makes a fantastic day out with very little chance of seeing another person. The wilderness, remoteness and the feeling of being the first person to ever step on this untouched landscape are exactly the reasons why many take up hill walking in the first place. Cul na Craig at Kinlochbervie has spectacular views to match the summit and unrivalled comfort. For an alternative, flatter day out from here you could instead hike 4 miles to the remote beach at Sandwood Bay.
The summit of The Cobbler is one of the most distinctive peaks in the Arrochar region. Its accessibility from the road, proximity to the central belt and well maintained path, mean it is perfect for a day out for youngsters and beginners. Be warned though, the Cobbler is so enticing that it may well lead to you on to many more Scottish gems. Strone House is located handily for all the Arrochar mountains as well as being close to watersports and cycling venues in Loch Lomond and the Cowal Peninsula.
White Coomb is one of the most dramatic walks in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. You can explore the nature reserve and walk up past one of Scotland’s highest waterfalls, the Grey Mare’s Tail, which Sir Walter Scott immortalised in verse. There are many beautiful and rare upland plants in the area and creatures such as peregrine falcons and mountain hares to spot. Westerkirk Mains on the river Esk by Langholm is a tranquil setting for a break but is close to White Coomb, the southern Upland way and countless other Moffat hills.
Harris is more famous for its beaches than its mountains, with no Munros and only one Corbett. The one solitary peak of notable size is however Clisham, and what a mountain. It stands alone offering panoramic views of sea and moorland and the small amount of traffic and untouched feeling of the mountain is a reminder of the days before mass participation in hill walking changed the face of many mountains forever. Scotisay View Cottage, is on the Golden Road, 5 miles from the ferry terminal at Tarbert and an ideal location for an outdoors holiday. In addition to the Harris hills there are miles of untouched coastline to hike and countless beaches to explore.
Seahorses has one of the most amazing views in the North. A panorama across the sea, the Assynt mountains and to the majestic Quinag. The silhouette of this spectacular mountain on the horizon invites you in. “Come climb me!” it cries. The rewards of stunning vistas over all of Assynt when you hike to the top are completely disproportionate to the relative small amount of effort required to reach the summit. The mountain is under the stewardship of the John Muir Trust so the paths are in excellent condition but experience in navigation is still essential.
The iconic outline of Suilven is one of the most distinctive and easily identifiable of any mountain in the north. Despite its relatively small stature, its remoteness means it is still a challenge. With a mountain bike you can shorten the approach time from Lochinver and there is even a bothy on the way where you can spend the night. If you would like your accommodation to be right on the sea then luxurious Culkein Lodge is located on the Drumbeg road and is perfectly located for taking in Suilven and all the other lesser known mountains in Assynt such as Stac Pollaidh.