Scotland is the most mountainous country in the United Kingdom. Scotland’s mountain ranges can be divided, in a roughly north to south direction, into: the Scottish Highlands and the Central Belt and Southern Uplands in the Scottish Lowlands. The highlands contains the country’s main mountain ranges, but many hills and mountains are to be found south of these as well. The highlands includes Britain’s loftiest peaks, the Munros, the highest being Ben Nevis at 1,344.53 m. The below lists are not exhaustive; there are countless subranges throughout the country.
Scotland’s main mountainous region can be broadly further split into the Northwest Highlands, the Grampian Mountains and the islands off the west coast. As the name implies, the NW Highlands begin at the suture north and west of the Great Glen and include 100 of the 282 Munros. The mountains found here are generally very rough and steep, but can also often provide walking on short grass. Long ridges are to be found on both sides of Glen Shiel in Kintail and more range-like mountains are to be found further north, such as in the Fannichs. The Torridon Hills are exceptionally well-regarded by hillwalking, scrambling and climbing communities; some of them, such as Beinn Eighe, are crowned by white quartzite, which gives a highly-distinctive appearance. The trend continues to the north, with larger caps of the white rock at Foinaven and Arkle. Some of these hills are made of Lewisian Gneiss, making them some of the oldest rocks on Earth. Many of the peaks within this region are isolated, particularly within Assynt and Sutherland, and, although sometimes smaller, possess a great grandeur. These include: Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, An Teallach and Maiden Pap. The southern portion of this area south of Glenfinnan consists of lower mountains of Corbetts and Grahams, but maintain the rough character of those found further north. The highest mountain in this area is Càrn Eige, also the second most prominent mountain in Britain, although twelfth by height.
The southern and eastern parts of Scotland are usually referred to as the Scottish Lowlands, but these areas also have significant ranges of hills, although these are lower than the Highland mountains. Because they are much closer to towns and cities, they are more popular for hill walking and rambling than the more distant mountains of the Highlands. The highest mountain in this area is Ben Cleuch.
In addition to the main ranges, there are numerous individual hills in the Lowlands, often volcanic in origin. Many are known by the Scots word Law, meaning hill.
The Southern Uplands form a continuous belt of hills across southern Scotland from Dumfries and Galloway to the Scottish Borders, with the northern sections spilling into Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Lothian. These uplands are divided into several local ranges. The heartland of the Galloway Hills lies to the north of Loch Trool, and many excellent walks start from the extensive car park by Bruce’s Stane. The ranges within the Scottish Borders are somewhat bigger and flatter than in Galloway but are of a similar height and are arguably just as remote. There are also a number of isolated hills which do not fit into any specific range, such as Tinto and Cairnsmore of Fleet. The highest mountain in this area is Merrick.
Scotland’s highest mountains
The ten highest mountains in Scotland are also the ten highest in the UK:
- Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis), 4,411.1 ft (1,344.5 m)
- Ben Macdui (Beinn Macduibh), 4,295 ft (1,309 m)
- Braeriach (Am Bràigh Riabhach), 4,252 ft (1,296 m)
- Cairn Toul (Càrn an t-Sabhail), 4,236 ft (1,291 m)
- Sgòr an Lochain Uaine, 4,127 ft (1,258 m)
- Cairn Gorm (An Càrn Gorm), 4,084 ft (1,244.8 m)
- Aonach Beag, 4,049 ft (1,234 m)
- Aonach Mòr, 4,004 ft (1,220.4 m)
- Càrn Mòr Dearg, 4,003 ft (1,220 m)
- Ben Lawers (Beinn Labhair), 3,983 ft (1,214 m)
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