Conquer that hill: easy UK mountains and peaks for beginners
Sometimes, the prospect of climbing to the top of a mountain can be a little intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Discover some of Britain’s best mountains and peaks in our guide to the top easy climbs for beginner hikers.
You don't need to climb to the summit of the UK's highest points to experience mountain bliss. In fact, some of Britain's most spectacular view points can be found on some of our most approachable peaks.
From Conic Hill on the West Highland Way in Scotland and Cat Bells in the Lake District, to and Wales' Snowdon and the iconic peak of Slemish in Northern Ireland, our guide explores some of the best and easiest mountains and peaks to climb in the UK for beginners.
Each mountain featured includes a walk with plotted map and route description, to help make your climb even more manageable. Want to make a trip of it? See our county guides, which include Scotland's North-West Highlands, Snowdonia and the Malvern Hills.
What is the easiest mountain to climb in the UK?
Pen y Fan (886m) in the Brecon Beacons is possibly one of the easiest mountains to climb in the UK. Easily accessible from the car park a good walking track winds its way to the peak. However, as with any peak, poor weather conditions can be dangerous so check the forecast and prepare your clothing and kit accordingly.
Essential hiking kit to wear and carry
While you might start off your walk is broad sunshine and feeling warm, in the outdoors and at altitude the weather conditions can change suddenly. It is vital to dress in suitable clothing for the conditions and carry a water-proof jacket and warm layers to put on if the unpredictable British weather takes a turn for the worse.
Here are a few of items you should always pack:
- Warm layer
- Hat (sun hat or warm beanie, depending on the season)
- Spare socks
- Any essential medication
From hiking boots to sunglasses, here is our expert review guide on the best gear for hill-walking this summer and autumn.
Britain's best easy mountains and peaks
Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire
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 to the summit of Sugar Loaf.
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 of Snowdon.
The Skirrid, Monmouthshire
Holy Mountain, Sacred Hill, Ysgyryd Fawr in Welsh – ‘ysgyryd’ meaning shattered or split – or simply The Skirrid, this mini mount goes by many names, hinting at its extensive and intriguing past.
The land surrounding the hill has long been considered holy and fertile – according to one ancient legend, a powerful landslide hit it the moment Christ was crucified on the cross – and religious pilgrimages have been made to the summit for centuries. Enjoy a 5km circular walk to the summit of this spooky hill, which offers dramatic views across the surrounding countryside with the Blorenge hill in the distance. Enjoy a 3.5-mile loop walk of The Skirrid.
Malvern Hills, Worcestershire and Herefordshire
Climb to the summit of British Camp and Worcestershire Beacon on this five-mile route through the Malvern Hills, stopping midway for a picnic lunch as you gaze across the surrounding countryside.
The walk ends in the busy town of Great Malvern, the perfect place to unwind after a day in the hills.
Yes Tor, Devon
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
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
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.
Clougha Pike, Lancashire
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. 7km hike to the summit of Clougha Pike.
Cat Bells, Cumbria
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
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.
Slemish, County Antrim
Slemish is a name familiar to most inhabitants of Northern Ireland. Rising abruptly from its flat surrounds, the hill is an unmissable landmark of County Antrim.
Walkers know it as a short, steep climb that provides vast views, but there are so many stories associated with the hill, even those who have never seen it can recall its myths and legends. An easy 1.2-mile route takes you to the top.
Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire
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
Easy and accessible, the modest mini mountain of Conic Hill (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.
Cribyn, at 795m, sits 101m below the tallest peak in southern Britain, Pen y Fan/Credit: Alamy
Amid the lumps, bumps and rounded humps that form the ridgelines of the Brecon Beacons, sits Cribyn. It’s the kind of peak a child may draw; pyramidal and stacked with brawn. Yet in spite of its mountain status, its summit is neither as high nor as insurmountable as you may imagine.
Tegg's Nose, Cheshire
Just 20 miles from Manchester city centre, the precipitous Tegg’s Nose Country Park represents an abrupt end to the Cheshire Plain, with flat fields replaced by a whole new, wild landscape of steep, craggy hills, open moors and dense, impenetrable forest.
It’s here where the imagination can run wild as you trek along the woodland paths, with nearby place names such as Wildboarclough giving a clue to the beasts that once roamed here. Various stories link the name Tegg’s Nose back to early Norse settlers, while others connect it to the word teg, a name for a two-year-old sheep, with the nose moniker easily linked to the promontory at the southern end of the ridge – explore the area on foot with a 7.5-mile hike.
Mark is a Lancashire-based outdoor writer and photographer who enjoys walking and cycling in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.