My Top 10 Favourite Mountains (in the UK)

How many times have you sat around and discussed your favourite mountains or hills in Britain? Certainly I have. My favourite mountains are not what many would describe as the ‘best’ but more a subjective view of the mountains and hills that I have enjoyed being on more than others, memorable occasions. They naturally reflect where I have spent most of my time walking and even though that pretty much covers all of the UK I have not been up every top hill. For example I have never been up Suilven, although a painting of said mountain adorns our living room wall!

Anyway no more messing about, here they are and why I like them, a countdown from 10 to 1 with 1 being my favourite (anyone who knows me will know which no 1 will be!)

10. Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales

I am a regular visitor to Ingleborough and it is rightly a popular fell, not just for those completing the 3 Peaks but for others who take the excellent walk up from Clapham. I have seen so many happy faces on its large summit plateau (the climbing element of the 3 Peaks challenge is compleat) that I can’t help thinking of it as a happy place – the long walk back to Horton a frustration for many but not for me. However it is the wonderful white limestone of its slopes and excellent walking which makes it so popular in my books.

9. Place Fell, Ullswater, Lakes

Overlooking Ullswater at Patterdale, Place Fell sums up for me what is so appealing about the Lakes. It is a rounded fell with steep sides falling towards the lake and a rough knobbly summit area that gives the fell that peculiar lakeland appeal. A myriad of sheep tracks wind their way through small rocky outcrops – best enjoyedin high summer when the bracken is up and the rock making perfect picnic spots. My abiding memory of Place Fell is a deer leaping across my path, not 10 yards in front – if only I had a camera ready.

8. Tryfan, North Wales

I first climbed Tryfan in 1993 the day I was made redundant from a job in Chester. I drove over on a summer’s evening without a map, compass or really a clue as to how to get up the thing but I did. It is a wonderful scramble, proper hands on but in my opinion safe if you are sensible. That day I even made the famous summit leap from Adam to Eve (never repeated on subsequent visits) before heading up Bristly Ridge on to the Glyders. Many have said that Tryfan is the best Britain can offer and it is difficult to argue.

7. Tom Dubh, Cairngorm, Scotland

Very likely you have not heard of Tom Dubh as it may well be the most remote mountain in Britain. Hidden in the Cairngorm massif on the Moine Mhor, relatively near Angels Peak, it is a Munro Top that I visited as part of a long, sun soaked 2 day foray in the Cairngorms. It is not particularly impressive to look at but I felt a special reverence when I arrived and trekked up its 400 foot slopes. I felt I was somewhere really special, unique, clearly remote; in the main due to the fact there was probably no-one within a 3 hour walk.

6. Yewbarrow, Wastwater, Lakes

My last visit to Yewbarrow was at the end of an impressive day’s walk  covering the Pillar Horseshoe from the head of Wasdale. Scrambling up was more challenging than I remembered it (as was the descent down its ‘spine’!) but it was the wonderful views down Wastwater, over to the Scafells  and back to Great Gable which make the mountain so impressive. The postage stamp summit would make a perfect wild camp site, watching the sun set to the west in this wild and remote area of the Lakes, beer or scotch in hand.

5. Dufton Pike, Pennines

In many ways a climb up the steep slopes of Dufton Pike (near Cross Fell) seems ridiculous. A graceful, steep sided cone shaped mountain Dufton Pike sits next to the massive rolling moors of the Pennines but is so totally different in character it feels another world. I climbed it first as a quick exercise in ticking Marilyns but returned on a hot sunny day on a big walk from High Cup Nick to Cross Fell. Dufton Pike was perfect and the relatively small size and peaked summit is exactly how a mountain should be, loved it… as I did the pint in the excellent pub afterwards.

4. Ladhar Bheinn, Scottish Highlands

Deep in the remote Knoydart region of western Scotland Ladhar Bheinn gave me my most enjoyable day climbing the Munros. Camping at Barrisdale the day was superb, a cool wind and sun accompanied myself and Barry on to the summit ridge where the views were extraordinary. To the east Loch Hourn lay like an arrow from the foot of the mountain slopes but in every other direction a mass of Scottish coast and islands were presented sparkling in the sun and seemingly endless. Enough to wax lyrical about!

3. Buckden Pike, Yorkshire Dales

A very personal choice; I will tell anyone who is prepared to listen that Buckden Pike is the best mountain/hill/fell in the Yorkshire Dales. Wharfedale and Buckden village are great spots and the fell looks large at the valley head. The climb is largely on good tracks but once on the vast summit ridge the heartbeat of the Dales are just spread out in front of you. My mind always goes to the Polish airmen who died up here when their plane crashed on a training exercise in WW11 and to the single survivor who crawled down the vast slopes to safety. A special place.

2. Sgurr nan Gillean, Skye, Scottish Islands

The whole Cuillin ridge is majestic (the best mountain range in Britain) and it is crowned by the perfectly formed Sgurr nan Gillean. I have approached the summit via the West Ridge, the Tourist track and most recently the Pinnacle Ridge and Knights Peak. The gabbro rock makes scrambling on the hills a real pleasure and, if you have a good head for heights, there is surely nowhere better to have ‘fun on the rock’. I have always climbed on the Cuillin in half decent weather (part cloudy but dry) which definitely helps – less fun in the wet methinks!

1. Blencathra, North Lakes

Having climbed Blencathra over 30 times from every conceivable angle I can safely say I know the fell intimately. Holidaying regularly in Threlkeld has helped but I still find it now as enjoyable as when I first climbed it. The sharp ridges and deep gullies on its southern slopes are the obvious appeal but the empty lands to the north really do it for me, I have camped on the summit, seen the sun rise, climbed in the snow and taken every conceivable person to its impressive top. Arriving in the Lakes along the A66 is always a pleasure when the saddle of Blencathra comes in to view.

As an aside, if I was doing a least favourite 10 there is only 1 clear winner and that is Mickle Fell where if you avoid drowning in the bogs there is every chance you will be shot by the army. My one, and never to be repeated, visit in pouring rain gave a total lie to the theory that all walks are good – this is not!

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