You don’t need to climb to the summit of the UK’s highest points to experience mountain bliss. From Conic Hill on the West Highland Way in Scotland, to Cat Bells in Cumbria and Wales’ Snowdon.
In its relatively modest 596m, the summit of Sugar Loaf in the Brecon Beacons National Park encompasses much that is magical about mountains, hills and woodland – explore this wonderful Welsh peak with a five-mile circular walk.
At 1,085m, Wales’ highest summit may be an intimidating prospect, but no technical skills are required to conquer it – just stout footwear, a reasonable level of fitness and a bit of determination. With eight routes to choose from, there is a path for everyone, even beginners. Start from Pen y Pass to give yourself a 1,000ft head start with our seven-mile circular to the summit.
Sitting on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park just north of Abergavenny, this small yet distinctive mountain and its namesake pub are steeped in dark and mysterious tales. Enjoy a 3.5-mile loop walk of The Skirrid.
Malvern Hills, Worcestershire and Herefordshire
Malvern hills ©Getty
Hike along the Malvern ridge from British Camp, a magnificent Iron Age hill fort, before descending into the picturesque town of Great Malvern for a well-earned pub meal.
Yes Tor, Devon
Yes Tor, Devon ©Alamy
Dartmoor’s second highest point, Yes Tor (619m), offers a worthy target for southerners looking to tackle their first mountain proper. Though a little lower than its sibling, High Willhays, its craggy buttress is the more striking of the two. Discover two more Dartmoor tors with a four-mile walk, inspired by Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse.
Pen y Ghent, Yorkshire
Pen Y Ghent, North Yorkshire ©Alamy
North Yorkshire’s Pen y Ghent, or the ‘Mountain of the Winds’, is the lowest of Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks, but it’s also by far the most dramatic when scaled via the southern ridge or ‘nose’. The steep scrambles up the two pronounced ‘steps’ present a stern test for novices wanting to assess their head for heights. Discover more great walks in the Yorkshire Dales.
Mam Tor, Derbyshire
Mam Tor ©Getty
Standing sentinel at the head of the picturesque Hope Valley, Mam Tor and the Great Ridge is one of the highlights of the Peak District. The ‘shivering mountain’ is the summit of a long, lofty ridge and makes a bracing high-level route along which even newbies can stride with confidence.
Cough Pike, Lancashire
Clougha Pike, Lancashire ©Alamy
This craggy outlier on the edge of the Forest of Bowland is an easy half-day hike that offers spectacular views north to the Lakeland Fells and out over the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. On a clear day, you might even see the mountains of Snowdonia, 100 miles away to the south-west.
Cat Bells, Cumbria ©Getty
At just 451m, Cat Bells is a modest summit by Lake District standards, but this rugged mini mountain kindles a lifelong passion for hill-walking among thousands of first-timers every year. Steep in places, the climb will leave you breathless – as will the spectacular views of mighty Skiddaw and Derwentwater.
Fairfield Horseshoe, Cumbria
A view of Lake Windemere and The Fairfield Horseshoe, Lake District ©Getty
Found in the heart of the Lake District, the very popular Fairfield Horseshoe begins and culminates in Ambleside. This classic, must-do walk takes time and is best taken on in the summers months when there is more daylight.
Latrigg, Cumbria ©Alamy
At a mere 368m, Latrigg is just over a third of the size of its neighbouring Lake District fells. But for situation, accessibility and unthreatening slopes there’s little that can top it.
Roseberry Topping, North York Moors
Rosebery Topping, North Yorkshire ©Getty
Roseberry Topping may not be classified by all as a ‘great mountain’, but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in character. Known as the favourite hill of Alan Hinkes – the first Briton to climb all of the world’s 8,000-metre mountains – this miniature mountain can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a short sunday hike.
Conic Hill, Stirlingshire
Conic Hill, Stirlingshire ©Alamy
Easy and accessible, this modest mini mountain (361m) offers newcomers a splendid introduction to the drama of hill-walking in the Highlands. Follow the West Highland Way to the multiple summits and admire the wonderful views over Loch Lomond and the Luss hills. Find out more about walking in Scotland with our guide to the best walks in Scotland.
Schiehallion, Perthshire ©Getty
Although a scary prospect, Schiehallion is one of the most accessible ‘Munros’ (the term for Scottish mountains above 3,000 feet). Thanks to its long, soft-angled approach, and its well-graded path – constructed by the John Muir Trust – this historical trail is a joy to walk.
Main photo ©Alamy