About Mountain Lists

April 6, 2022

I have always been driven by Mountain Lists when walking in the UK. Starting with the Wainwrights I moved on to climb the Munros of Scotland in my 20s and 30s. It was obsessive. More recently the ‘Dales 30’, the ‘Peaks 75’ and ‘Marilyns’ in England and Wales have driven much of my walking.

Different Types of Listing

Blencathra, where it all began

There are so many lists of mountains in the UK it is difficult to get a grip of them.

  • Some listings are specifically fact based. These include the Marilyns (150m height gain on all sides), Humps (100m height gain on all sides) and Tumps (30m height gain on all sides). They are created by the height from which they stand out from their neighbours. Corbetts use imperial measurements and are mountains in Scotland with a 500ft drop on all sides. in Scotland between 2,500ft and 3,000ft.
  • Others are more reflective of the personalities who created the list. Munro and Wainwright are two such randomly created lists. Ok, the Munros are mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet high but above that magic number the list is totally beholden to the man himself. The Wainwrights are even more random.
  • Many of the best and most accessible are a hybrid of the above to enable them to be more conveniently accessible. The ‘Dales 30’ and ‘Peaks 75’ are two of these.

Mountain Listings by Region

Baugh Fell, the most remote of the ‘Dales 30’

However the lists I enjoy most are regionally based. A regional listing is manageable in size and manageable in distance to travel. With petrol prices sky high and the environmental consequences of car travel increasingly unacceptable tackling a national listing such as the Marilyns becomes too difficult except for the time rich few. Heading to an area for a few days, staying over and ticking is highly satisfying from all perspectives.

Some regional listings already exists and dominate such as the ‘Dales 30’, The Wainwrights and Munros. other such as the ‘Peaks 75’ gaining recognition. Wales is certainly deserving of a defined list and I believe that the Herefordshire/Shropshire area and the North and South Downs have sufficient hills to produce a good list. These are all genuine walking/climbing areas.

Non Mountainous Areas

Long Crag, a Marilyn in Northumberland

However nearly all areas in Britain have some scale of hills. This may seem unlikely (and open to ridicule) but my brother did produce a book of Leicestershire Hills which has proved quite popular. The key to its success is its locality, a visit to the summits providing local people with a purpose to their walks. The main issue with a list of hills in the less mountainous areas of Britain is lawful access to the summits. There is often no access land and therefore access is governed by the existence of a Right of Way.

(If you do want a copy of the Leicestershire Hills book just follow this link). I cannot believe there will be many takers from outside Leicestershire!

Below is a brief summary of the main mountain and hill listings that exist in Britain, describing how the mountains are listed and any accompanying book to the list.

The Wainwrights (Lake District)

Harter Fell, looking towards High Street

The most popular and best known mountain listing in Britain. There are 214 ‘main’ Wainwrights with no clear definition for inclusion. In addition there are 116 ‘Outlying’ Fells. The mountain listing was the result of an exceptionally detailed 20 years of research by the Blackburn book keeper Alfred Wainwright in the 1950s and 1960s. The 8 guide books (including the later Outlying Fells book) are simply exceptional, the best guide books ever written. The listing of mountains is more random but form the driving force for many visitors to the Lake District.

The ‘Dales 30’ (Yorkshire & Cumbria)

Summit of Great Knoutberry Hill

The ‘Dales 30’ are the mountains in the Yorkshire and Cumbrian Dales over 2,000 feet with a drop of at least 30 metres on all sides. They are all within the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Having lived in the area for many years I always felt a mountain listing was sadly missing so was delighted to write the official ‘Dales 30’ guide book in 2017. I would like to think the listing has encouraged many new visitors to enjoy the Dales including the less popular places to the north and west.

The Munros (Scotland)

An Teallach, very pointy and very special

There are 282 Munros in Scotland defined as mountains over 3,000 feet (914.4m). They make for the greatest mountain challenge in Britain, one that will take a good chunk of your life to complete. The list was put together by Hugh Munro at the start of the 20th century and although some amendments have been made by the SMC since the list is still pretty much his. To complicate the list he included a second list of subsidiary 227 summits over 3,000 feet (the Tops).

The ‘Peaks 75’ (Derbyshire and the Peak District)

The ever popular Mam Tor

The ‘Peaks 75’ include the list of summits in the wider Peak District which have a drop of 30 metres in all directions, ie: are a distinctive hill. There are some minor alterations to this criteria due to hills being non accessible and a few additional hills which are impressive in their own right but do not make the 30 m prominance. The mountains have been included in a new book written by Barry Smith, a companion to the ‘Dales 30’ mountains.

The Welsh Mountains

Moal Siabod, a cracking mountain on a cracking day

Wales has many of the best mountains in Britain. Some are very well known and others are not. There is no official listing of mountains although many websites list the highest. I will be looking to add a listing to this website during the next year and believe the best listing would be to include all the Welsh Marilyns. The Marilyns are categorized as any hill or mountain with a 500 metre drop on all sides. There are 159, a hard challenge although some are not accessible.

Other Less Mountainous Areas

Whiteside Pike on the Bannisdale Round

Whilst the areas above are certainly the most popular places to climb hills and mountains they are not the only one. As proved with the Leicestershire book many of the other areas in England have a number of Tumps (30m height gain from the next nearest high point) and Humps (100m height gain from the next nearest high point) which could be used to create a popular hill climbing list.

For more information on the wider ranges of hills and mountains in these areas visit the Relative Hills Society and for full listing of summits near where you live visit the Harold Street website.

For Where2walk I have started adding a section to the website of my favourite regional listings that have driven so much of my walking. Check the Navigation bar for the various mountain listings which have already been loaded.

Enjoy your walking

Jonathan

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