Hill Climbing in Scotland
I didn’t know what to expect the first time my friend said she wanted to take me hill climbing in Scotland during my time there. When I hear the word ‘hill’, I generally think of something along the lines of the Dictionary.com definition;
That sounds manageable, I thought. I’ve climbed a few medium-sized mountains.
During my stay, I learned that some Scottish words doesn’t always translate. Here’s a fun example from Scottish At Heart:
“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye.”
This translates to ‘Whatever is meant to happen to you, will happen to you!’
Basically, ‘Stop complaining!’
I would not have guessed that. Anyway, I’ll stop my complaining and get on to hill climbing.
In researching all of this I learned that referring to hill climbing and hills is also a form of Scottish slang. I also learned that some locals take hill climbing in Scotland very seriously, and reach the top of all of them.
- Marilyns: Scottish designation for any hill with a drop of 500 ft. (152 meters) or more on all sides
- Donalds: Hills over 2,000 ft. (610 meters) but less than 2,500 ft. (762 meters)
- 87 Donalds in the Scottish Lowlands
- Grahams: Scottish hills over 2,000 ft. but less than 2,500 ft.
- 224 Grahams in Scotland
- Corbett: Scottish hills over 2,500 ft. but less than 3,000 ft. (914 meters)
- 221 Corbetts in Scotland and those who climb them all are called Corbetteers
- Munros: Scottish hills over 3,000 ft.
- 283 Munros currently and those who climb them all are called Munroists
Goatfell: 2,867 ft. Corbett
Shortly after I arrived in Scotland, two of my local friends and I went to hill climb Goatfell. It was a sunny June afternoon. This was significant because even during the summer months Scotland can expect a fair amount of rain.
We headed by ferry to the Isle of Arran. I was excited to hear that the ferries also contain cafeterias so I had an opportunity to enjoy my favorite Scottish breakfast! I ordered a Scottish roll with an over easy egg, ham and a hash brown.
Soon after the ferry arrived at Arran, the climbing began. It took us just shy of two hours to get to the top, including stopping for lunch, where we enjoyed a gorgeous view. But we did it! The view at the top was even more impressive! We were fortunate to have such a beautiful day and relatively clear skies.
Cruach Ardrain: 3,432 ft. Munro
A few days later we prepared to head to our second climb. This time for a Munro. At 3,432 ft. (1,046 meters) Cruach Ardrain seemed only slightly more challenging. No problem, I thought.
It was much more challenging. We almost didn’t make it to the top.
The first 1,000 ft. wasn’t on a defined path and we climbed up wet, boggy grass. My friends and I powered on ahead. I started to lag behind a bit and eventually we stopped for a break. The wet grass was so unpleasant we weighed whether we should continue or not. We were told the first 1,000 ft. or so was the worst part. We decided to continue and see how much more of the wet grass we would have to climb through. We hoped the remainder of the hike would be more manageable. We climbed ahead and eventually were happy to make it up the first part.
We were excited to see that indeed the climb got easier after we passed through the grass. The views became incredible as we climbed over large boulders and ventured to peek over sheer drop-offs. Eventually, after a few hours of climbing, we made it to the top!
Even in the middle of June some snow remained at the top of this Munro.
Arthur’s Seat: 823 ft. Marilyn
The following week, while in Edinburgh, I met some new friends. We had gone out for food and drinks the night before and planned to climb Arthur’s Seat, a hill just outside the city center of Edinburgh. Known for it’s unique structure and beautiful views we headed out the next morning.
At only 823 ft. (251 meters), this was a much easier climb. Arthur’s Seat provides some incredible views of Edinburgh. It was quite windy so we caught our breath at the top, snapped off a few photos and then headed off to find some good food.
During your time in Edinburgh, make sure to hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat! Look at this view!
Hill Climbing in Scotland Resources
- Mountaineering Council of Scotland: Safety tips, maps, guidebooks and more
- WalkHighlands: Hill listings, safety and GPS planning
Hill climbing in Scotland was a great way to see more of Scotland and bond with some local friends. Some of the resources I listed list safety tips and give more information on the maps and other helpful information you’ll need to prepare. I was fortunate enough to hill climb the more difficult ones with some experienced friends who have a great deal of knowledge about this sport.
That day I climbed Arthur’s Seat I also found one of my favorite street foods.Take a look at my review of Tupiniquim crêperie and my other Edinburgh street food favorites here.
Hopefully this will help you to enjoy hill climbing in Scotland as much as I did!
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions.
A big thank you to Di, Dave and Caroline for their hospitality during my time in Scotland!
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