Defining The Mountains

This is a scheduled post. I am currently walking the Wales Coast Path to raise money for the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team. (Update: I completed the Wales Coast Path on 7th February 2022 and raised £1,300)

The British are the champions of understatement. Where in other countries there’s a strong distinction between the use of the words ‘walk’ and ‘hike’, here a hike will always be a walk (though a walk will not always be a hike) regardless of whether its an hour stroll along a canal path or several years along the whole coastline. I’m currently having a walk on the beach. It’s pretty chilly and, so far, has been over 400 miles; I’ve misjudged and run out of food a few times and have survived some brutal storms, my boots are frozen most mornings but its still a walk. Just a walk on the beach.

Many people go for walks in the hills. However, the hills in question could be the genteel bumps of Hampstead Heath or they could be the Cairngorms. It’s perfectly reasonable to point out that the former is definitely a hill whilst the latter are certainly mountains and you’re right, but to the British both will be hills; a mountain will always be a hill… but a hill will not always be a mountain.

All of this might seem to make definition arbitrary, but then here is the contradiction of it all.; you might be able to tell from our automatic ability to form a queue, but our entire culture hinges on the illusion of organisation; we love a list. I use the notepad app on my phone far more than any other app. And I love Instagram.

So, suffice to say, worry not; our hills and mountains are indeed defined. And defined again and again into even more particular lists. Many of our hillwalkers (mountain hikers? No, that’s for Americans) tick hills off those lists, and by hills I mainly mean mountains; particular types of mountains.

It’s the new year, a time when many of us take on new challenges. I expect many outdoorspeople are considering something mountainy, but maybe aren’t sure what. Well, I’ve just taken a good chunk out of my life to compile this for you – two months before you ever knew you needed it!

But before we examine those lists, first, lets examine what the British definition of a mountain is.

Elevation

Calf Top. Credit: BBC

At the base of it, a mountain is a landform rising at least 610 metres (2,000 feet) above sea level. However, for the purposes of our Freedom of Access, the UK government rounds that number down to 600 metres though no hillwalker with integrity would count anything less than 610 metres in their logs. Famously this distinction caused a bit of fuss around Calf Top in Cumbria, which, for years, was measured at 609 metres.

Whilst the Ordnance Survey saw fit to round up Calf Top’s elevation on its maps, it was formally rejected from being granted mountain status. A survey in 2010 using the most up to date surveying equipment put it at 609.58 metres, agonisingly close and yet so far. A flurry of debate arose between the leading definers of our mountains (which is a thing) and it was agreed that mountain status would continue to be denied. It wasn’t until the Ordnance Survey gave it another go in 2016 with even better equipment that Calf Top finally became a mountain, after its latest measurement read that, for all this time, the peak had actually sat six millimetres above the defining line.

Now, call me a cynic, but maybe the OS just was sick of all the bureacratical drama and chose to end it for once and all.

A word to the wise here; since we’re in the UK, definitions like to mix up metric and imperial units. The elevation of mountains is more often measured in feet, but the prominence (discussed below) is in metres. For my definitions below, don’t despair, I’ve included both so whatever generation you’re from you can fix it to your understanding. Unless you measure stuff in cubitts in which case you’re on your own.

Prominence

Helvellyn: Iain Walks

Whilst a hill might reach the basic definition of a mountain by reaching the 610 metres/2000 feet mark, it then needs to be sorted into a group. Many of these groups define a certain height bracket, but also a need for a strict amount of prominence.

We are talking ‘topographical prominence’ here – the measurement from the summit to the lowest contour line encircling it, uninterrupted by another higher peak within it. Basically; how far is the drop?

Mountains, mostly, occur in ranges, shaped from the same stone as their neighbours. Prominence is a measure of significance; a ridge along a range might contain several peaks, but some of those might only rise a handful of metres above the ridge therefore it seems a bit of a cheek to give it the same deifying status as a more prominent peak of the same, or even slighter lesser, height.

Most of our mountain and hill definitions require a defined amount of prominence. The very least of these is 15 metres, but most require at least 30. Whilst the term ‘peak’ is used in our common vernacular for the summit of any mountain or big hill, actually it can only apply to those with a prominence above 150 metres. The top of any hilly or subjectively mountainous landform in the UK that is between 30 and 150 metres, isn’t a peak, it’s literally just a ‘top’. International definitions are different. Be thankful I’m not delving into those.

Prominence is such a big deal that some of our lists ignore total elevation and focus purely on prominence. Whilst no great controversies have arising in regard to it just yet, as the measurement of prominence is a more complex deal that that of elevation (requiring a measurement of all surrounding contours in relation to the peak/top/summit/whatever) they are far, far more contrary and subject to change.

Isolation

Schiehalliion. Credit: WalkHighlands

Whilst there is only one list that includes a classification of isolation, it is still seen as a marker of significance. Isolation refers to the distance from one peak to another of equal height, otherwise known by the truly wonderful phrase ‘radius of dominance’.

Basically, how separated it is from surrounding hills and mountains. A very isolated mountain comes hand in with a fair amount of prominence and therefore can be seen as a pretty impressive, pretty significant peak.

*

Now you understand the essentials, shall we get to the lists?

All information is correct as of November 2021.

P600s (The Majors)

Elevation:

Prominence: at least 600m (1,969ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 120

Ben Lui. Credit: WalkHighlands

One of the shortest lists there are. Arguably, also the most challenging.

The P600s have no classification for elevation or isolation, just a prominence of at least 600m. This does mean that these mountains do tend to be both high and isolated by default.

British mountain cartographer, Alan Dawson, initially drew up his list of ‘Majors’ to have a prominence of at least 2000ft (610(ish)m) but that was revised in 2004, and the official title for these mountains is the ‘P600s’. The ‘P’ being an international classification for ‘prominence’ and the ‘600s’ referring to the minimum prominent height.

There are 120 Majors currently. There have been 120 majors for a while, but not always the same mountains. Like I said before, prominence becomes fiddly to measure. Beinn Odhar Bheag has replaced Rois-Bheinn and there’s still an ongoing quibble about Moel Siabod.

Of the Majors, 82 are in Scotland, 24 in the Republic of Ireland, seven in Wales and four in England. Then there’s a loner out on the Isle of Man and another in Northern Ireland.

On 9th November 2019, Iain Chase became the first person to climb all the Majors in a calendar year. This is even more incredible when you realise he’s from Norfolk, where the highest elevation is 105 metres. Forget the challenge of climbing all these mountains, how about sharing the secrets of building up hill fitness in the flattest part of the country?

To see a full list, check the Peak Bagger site (controversially this list does not include Moel Siabod).

Marilyns

Elevation:

Prominence: at least 150m (490ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 2,011

Bradda Hill. Credit: @langnesslighthouse

Alan Dawson at it again; defining another category by prominence (though the Marilyns came before the Majors).

Originally listed in his 1992 book The Relative Hills of Great Britain, he named these hills and mountains ‘Marilyns’ in a sort of homophonous contrast to the Munros which, incidentally, has no classification of prominence. Clem Clements took his UK list and extended it to the Republic of Ireland.

Despite its relatively short requirement for prominence, this does cut out some famous ones. Notably Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District, as well as Carnedd Daffydd in Snowdonia. Even so, the elevation range of the Marilyns ranges from the teeny tiny island of Maol Domhnaich which is basically one hill of 154m (505ft), to Ben Nevis.

The first people to nab all the 1,557 Marilyns in the Uk were Rob Woodall and Eddie Dealtry on the 13th October 2014. No one has yet gone for the full 2,011. So maybe this is your challenge? You can see a full list of Marilyns on Hill Bagging.

There are 1,219 Marilyns in Scotland, where Munros with a Marilyn prominence are called Real Munros, 454 in the Republic of Ireland, 175 in England, 158 in Wales and 5 on the Isle of Man.

HuMPs and TuMPs

Elevation:

Prominence:

  • HuMPs: at least 100m (328ft)
  • TuMPs: at least 30m (98ft)

Isolation:

How Many?:

  • HuMPs: 2,984
  • TuMPs: 17,127

Parliament Hill. Credit: The Kittchen

An expanded list of Marilyns was formally published in 2010. This list, compiled by Mark Jackson, reduced the prominence requirement to 100m and was labelled ‘The HuMPs’ (Hundred and Upwards Metre Prominence).

Jackson then took it even further, publishing a list of TuMPs (Thirty and Upwards Metre Prominence). To me, this seems slightly silly and like the work of a man that has too much time on his hands

As expected, these lists are long, with just under 3,000 HuMPs, and over 17,000 TuMPs. On the plus side, I suppose many of the TuMPs are extremely accessible to even the very unfit and moderately disabled. A sedentary, slothlike person willing to change could easily start with a push up the 112ft of Normanston Hill and, eventually, find their way to the lofty heights of the Cairngorms. In about fifty years if heading out in increasing order.

As yet no one has put forward a completed list of either HuMPs or TuMPs, though Jackson maintains a ‘Hall of Fame’ for those who have summitted 1,200 HuMPs.

You can find Hill Bagging’s list of HuMPs here, or spend three days going though the list of TuMPs here.

Simms

Elevation: at least 600m (1969 ft)

Prominence: at least 30m (98ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 2,984

Hedgehope Hill. Credit: Cheviot Walks

So it seems in 2010, after Mark Jackson proudly got out his TuMPing and HuMPing lists, Alan Dawson (our Major and Marilyn man) got a bit put out and upped the anti with his list of Simms.

This was another big boy class; they had their prominence requirement of 30 metres but they also had to be actual mountains. Well, commonly accepted mountains at least, even if the 10 metre difference between his classification and the government’s meant a few fakers slipped through. It seems acronyms were the done thing in 2010 because ‘SIMM’ stands for SIx hundred Metre Mountain. It’s a stretch, but we accepted it.

Dawson noted that this was a list that encompassed ‘the broadest possible definition of a mountain’ (Yeah! Take that Jackson!) and there are currently 2,755 of them in the British Isles. 2,190 Scottish Simms, 223 Irish Simms, 192 English Simms, 149 Welsh Simms, and one on the Isle of Man.

As of last year, only four people had completed them all. Which must have felt great until July when one hill got deleted from the list and another added. It’s OK, they had all topped up within the month.

You can see a full list of Simms on Hill Bagging.

Munros, Munro Tops, and Real Munros (Scotland Only)

Elevation: at least 914.4m (3000ft)

Prominence:

  • Munros: –
  • Munro Tops: –
  • Real Munros: 150m (490ft)

Isolation:

  • Munros: ‘sufficient separation’
  • Munro Tops: –
  • Real Munros: ‘sufficient separation’

How Many?:

  • Munros: 282
  • Munro Tops: 227
  • Real Munros: 197

Carn Cloich-Mhuillin. Credit: Adventures of a Mountain Coward

This famous list of Scottish mountains was compiled by an Englishman and I’m sorry about that. Long before Dawson and Jackson were seeing it out, mountaineer Sir Hugo Munro was a founding member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and took on the task of providing an accurate list of all of Scotland’s 3,000ft peaks. He also made up a detailed study of the Ordnance Survey maps of the area while he was at it.

The list was published in 1891 and counted 538 summits. This really shocked everyone who seemed to think the number would be more like thirty. The SMC decided that a classification for ‘sufficient separation’ was required. This brought the number down to 282 after significant isolation was taken into account (though there’s no defined measure for that). This lead to another list; the Munro Tops. All of which fit the Munro requirements for elevation, but were not suitably separated. This definition became official.

What didn’t become official was a requirement for prominence. Instead, colloquially, Munros with a Marilyn prominence of 150 metres is called a ‘Real Munro’ (or a ‘Marilyn Munro’). Thankfully, none of the Munro Tops have a Marilyn prominence or that would really have started to confuse things.

Of course, with the original list being published so long ago, equipment has improved and enabled surveyors to be ever more exact. The original list has shifted around a bit. Most recently, a new survey was carried out in lockdown and, in August 2020, the SMC deleted Beinn a’ Chroin West Top as a Munro Top and Beinn a’ Chroin East Top got promoted to be a new Munro Top.

The person credited with being the first to summit all the Munros is Rev. A E Robertson in 1901 despite it being well known that he skipped the Inaccessible Pinnacle in the Cuillin Range and the summit of Ben Wyvis. But since the Inaccessible Pinnacle is called, well, the Innaccessible Pinnacle and Ben Wyvis translates to ‘Hill of Terror’ I think many were happy to give him a pass; to have done so many with Victorian equipment was a pretty decent flex.

6,768 people have since joined him as Munroists, having climbed all the Munros. Hugh Munro himself never completed his own list; he failed to climb one mountain – Carn Cloich-Mhuillin – which he was saving to be his last.

You can find the Hill Bagging list of Munros here.

Murdos (Scotland Only)

Elevation: at least 914.4m (3000ft)

Prominence: 30m (98ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 442

Innaccessible Pinnacle. Credit: Nicola Chapman

Responding for a call for a more quantitive alternative to the list of Munros, Alan Dawson put together the list of Murdos in 1995. He chose a 30m prominence to be in line with international definitions for an ‘independent peak’.

There are 442 Murdos; all of which are either Munros or Munro Tops. 203 exceed 150m prominence and are therefore Marilyn Murdos. 54 exceed the P600 requirement and are therefore Major Murdo mountains. Or just Major Mountains.

However, not all Munros are Murdos. Maoile Lunndaidh, a Munro, was decided eventually to have a prominence of only 11m after it was decided that its neighbour peak, Creag Toll a’ Choin, was higher and thus absorbed the 400m prominence that had originally been attributed to Maoile Lunndaidh.

The Murdos are not officially recognised by the SMC. As for why they are called Murdos…I actually don’t know. It doesn’t seem anyone knows. Maybe Dawson will explain on his death bed. In the mean time, the full hill bagging list is here.

Corbetts and Corbett Tops (Scotland Only)

Elevation: between 762m-914.4 m (2,500-3,000ft)

Prominence:

  • Corbetts: at least 152.4m (500ft)
  • Corbett Tops: between 30.48m-152.4m (100ft-500ft)

Isolation:

How Many?:

  • Corbetts: 222
  • Corbett Tops: 454

Goat Fell. Credit: About Britain

After Munro penned his list, John Rooke Corbett came along in the 1920s with another. Well, his sister came along with it; Corbett had died and never published the list so she made the push to see his name remembered alongside the mountains he had loved. The list was published in 1953.

The Corbett with the most prominence is Goat Fell, with a prominence of 874m (2,867 ft). Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh is now the tallest Corbett at 914m (2,999ft) after a 2012 survey had it demoted from a Munro.

People who climb Corbetts are called Corbetteers. John Corbett got there first; climbing them all in 1943 ten years before the list was even published. William McKnight Docharty got there second in 1960.

Here is the hill bagging list.

Grahams and Graham Tops (Scotland Only)

Elevation: between 610m-762m (2000ft-2499ft)

Prominence:

  • Grahams: 150m (490ft) all round
  • Graham Tops: 30m-150m (98ft-492ft)

Isolation:

How Many?:

  • Grahams: 219
  • Graham Tops: 776

The Pap of Glencoe. Credit: Walking Englishman

Our list-lover Alan Dawson put together this list of Grahams in 1992. Originally calling them ‘Elsies’ (‘LCs’ – Lesser Corbetts), he changed the name to honour the late Fiona Graham who had complied a similar list around the same time.

Six changes to the list have been made since 1992 based on re-surveying; three were dropped for being found to be too low, one for being too high, one for not having enough prominence, and Beinn Dearg was replaced by its neighbouring peak Creag na h-Eararuidh.

There is a bit of squabble over who was the first Grahamist to climb them all, but the general consensus was that it was Graham Dawson in 1984.

Here is the hill bagging list for the Grahams.

Donalds and Donald Tops (Scotland Lowlands Only)

Elevation: at least 609.6m (2,000ft)

Prominence:

  • Donald Hills: 30.5m (100ft)
  • Donald Tops: 15.2m (50ft)

Isolation:

+A whole complex formula to determine ‘sufficient topographical merit

How Many?:

  • Donald Hills: 89
  • Donald Tops: 51

White Coomb. Credit: Walk Highlands

This list is bonkers and highly particular, yet it is one recognised by the SMC. The Lowlands weren’t getting much love with all these ridiculous requirements for mountains in Scotland to be 1,000ft taller than anywhere else in the UK to be recognised, so SMC member Percy Donald penned a list that is basically a love letter to the Lowland hills.

His formula, quantifying his adoration, separates the Donalds into the Donald Hills and the Donalds Tops and in defining the difference he stated that the Tops are “elevations in the Scottish Lowlands of at least 2000ft (610m) in height with a drop of at least 50ft (15.2m) between each elevation and any higher elevation. Further, elevations separated from higher elevations by a drop of less than 100ft (30.5m) are required to have “sufficient topographical merit” whilst the Hills are “defined from Donald Tops, where a Hill is the highest Top with a separation of 17 units or less. A unit is either one-twelfth of a mile along a Top’s connecting ridge or 50ft (30.5m) in elevation between the Top and its connecting bealach/col. The separation is the sum of these two measures.”

Now, ‘sufficient topographical interest’ might well be a subjective notion, and indeed Donald was referring to a measurable (you bet) amount of character. As the list is so detailed in its requirements, the SMC considers it a complete list regardless of changes made to elevation and prominence, and it is closed to further entries. They didn’t exactly follow their own direction because seven more have been added to Donald’s original 1935 list.

Dawson tried to get in there with a list of ‘New Donalds’ specifying a new prominence requirement and a firm boundary, but it didn’t really take off like his Marilyns did.

Donald himself was the first Donaldist to climb them all in 1933.

Here is the hill bagging list.

Hughs (Scotland Only)

Elevation: under 609.6m (2,000ft)

Prominence:

Isolation:

+Attitude

How Many?: 100

Arthur’s Seat. Credit: Earth Trekkers

Andrew Dempster compiled the Hughs (Hills Under Graham Height) in his book Scotland’s Best Wee Hills Under 2,000 Feet: Volume 1: The Mainland” and is currently writing a follow up for the islands. This list is not official, but has gained a lot of attention and enthusiasm.

Dempster describes his collated hills as having “attitude, not altitude”, defining attitude as a cumulative effect of a hill’s ‘prominence, position and panorama’

You can buy the book here, and preorder the second book here

Furths (Outside Scotland)

Elevation: at least 914.4m (3,000ft)

Prominence:

Isolation:

How Many?: 34

Maolán Buí. Credit: Mountain Views

The Furths are the mountains outside of (or ‘furth’ than) Scotland that would otherwise qualify for Munro status. There’s not very many, only 34, with 5 in Wales, 13 in Ireland and six in England and Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) being the highest.

All but one have a prominence above 30m with 14 having a Marilyn prominence.

Also known as the English, Irish and Welsh Munros or the three thousanders (as in the ‘Welsh 3000s’ challenge)

To qualify as a Furthist, you have to be a Munroist first. On 19 April 1929, James A Parker was the first. Not to be too outdone, in 1986 Ashley Cooper became the first person to climb all the 3,000ft summits in one continuous expedition, of 111 days.

Here is the whole hill bagging list.

Nuttalls (England and Wales)

Elevation: at least 609.6m (2,000ft)

Prominence: at least 15m (49ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 446

Crinkle Crags. Credit: Striding Edge

Anne and John Nuttall compiled their list of mountains over 2,000 feet with 15m prominence in the two volumes of their 1990 book The Mountains of England and Wales and, subsequently, have updated the list ever since. It requires a fair amount of updating because 15m is a tiddly amount of prominence and mountains are regularly remeasured as being over or under the threshold.

There are 257 in England and 189 in Wales with Anne and John themselves being the first registered Nuttall completists. The list of completists is kept, not by the authors or the BMC, but by the LDWA. I don’t know what the word is for a person that has finished the list apparently it isn’t ‘Nutter’.

James Forrest completed all 446 Nuttalls in six months in 2017 whilst still holding down a full time day job. His book ‘Mountain Man‘ is a worthy trail read and he’s pretty engaging on Instagram as well (@jamesmichaelforrest) and does his best to answer all your (my) annoying questions.

Here is the hill bagging list of Nuttalls.

Hewitts (Outside Scotland)

Elevation: at least 609.6m (2000ft)

Prominence: at least 30m (98.4ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 526

Tryfan. Credit: Simon Baxter Photography

Dawson had a lot of time to be sitting and writing lists for a mountaineer. The Hewitts are, well, as their acronym states; Hills of England, Wales and Ireland over Two Thousand feet. He originally called them ‘Sweats’; Summits – Wales and England Above Two thousand, in his 1992 publication but, thankfully, the mountaineering community decided that was a stupid name and instead decided on ‘Hewitt’. Probably in no small part because they could make a jaunty and relevant acronym out of the surname of the author, Dave Hewitt, who published the complete list of English two-thousanders in 1997.

The complete list of Welsh Hewitts was also published that year, with the Irish members being declared the year after.

Climbing all the 2,000ft mountains was already a thing people did, this just organised it better. So it was claimed, but really it just starts to smell of mountain bureaucracy.

Hewitts were, in part, designed to address the criticism of the Nuttall qualification where there was no defined prominence requirement. The Simms were then made to ‘improve’ the Hewitts – basically by turning all the original imperial units fully metric and tweaking to fit with international specifications – so I don’t really know when all this fine tuning is going to end, but all three of those lists are still maintained and upheld and logged.

The original list included 535 hills, but by 1997 one had been knocked off. BBC announced in 2018 that Foel Penolau and Foel Cedig had been upgraded to Hewitt (and Simm) status bringing the total today to 526.

The first Hewitteer to complete the English and Welsh mountains over 2000ft, before they were known as Hewitts, was Edward Moss in 1951. I can’t find who the first person was to climb the English, Welsh and Irish Hewitts, but I can reasonably assume it was Ed Clements who went on to compile the Irish list.

Here is the hill bagging site.

Deweys (and all the subcategories)

Elevation: at least 500m (1640.4ft) and below 609.6m (2000ft)

Prominence: at least 50m (164t)

Isolation:

How Many?: 426

Pendle Hill. Credit: History Explorer

Michael Dewey’s list of hills in England and Wales, published in 1995, was an extension of the list of Hewitts; lowering the height requirement to 500m (1,640.4ft) and below 2000ft (609.6m). There are 426 of these hills; 241 in Wales, 180 in England, and five in the Isle of Man.

The Donald Deweys have the same classification, except they are confined to the geographic area of the Scottish Lowlands. The Hewitt classification doesn’t apply to Scotland, so this is their nearest Hewitt-esque list. There are 248 Donald Deweys, as identified by David Purchase in 2001.

Not to be outdone, completist Rob Woodall put together a list of the same classification for the highlands in 2013, now known as the Highland Fives. There are 775 Highland Fives.

Finally, Michael Dewey teamed up with Myrddyn Michaels to maked the Irish equivalent list. These are the Myrddyn Deweys and there 200 of them.

List of Deweys

List of Donald Deweys and Highland Fives

List of Myrddyn Deweys

Wainwrights (England only)

Elevation: at least 304.8m (1000ft)

Prominence: at least 50m (164t)

Isolation:

+Wainwright just liked it alright?

How Many?: 214

Castle Crag. Credit: Andrew’s Walks

The writer and fellwalker A. Wainwright (as he preferred to be called) was a bit of an obsessive and an odd duck, but is nonetheless held in high esteem for his clear love of, and popularisation of, the Lakeland Fells.

(A ‘fell’ is just another word for ‘hill’ which makes it another word for ‘mountain’. Just go with it. We do things differently up here.)

The list contained in the seven volumes of his favourite mountains, published between 1955 and 1966, is possibly the most popular list for English hillbaggers to chase after. This is now at the point where it seems to no longer be enough to just complete it. There are now records set for the fastest round (Sabrina Verjees in a time of 5 days, 23 hours and 49 minute) and the fastest continuous round (27 members of Durham Fell Runners in 4 days, 6 hours and 50 minutes).

I’m not sure what Wainwright would make of all this ceremony. He just wrote a book (or seven) of mountains he really liked to walk up. And although he stated that he was including all mountains of a specific height and prominence, he made an exception for Castle Crags which, he claimed, was a ‘perfect mountain in miniature’.

Like the Donalds, this list is entire. There will be no more adding or taking away from it. I don’t think anyone would want that to happen anyway.

Here is the hill bagging list.

Birketts (England only)

Elevation: at least 304.8m (1000ft)

Prominence:

Isolation:

+Within the boundaries of the Lake District National Park

How Many?: 541

Pillar Rock. Credit: Mickledore

I don’t know if Bill Birkett was trying to set up a competing list to the Wainwrights, but suffice to say this is the first I’ve heard of the Birketts. Perhaps irritated by the adoration for this longstanding list based on almost purely subjective opinion rather than cold hard data, in 1994, he published his book Complete Lakeland Fells listing every hill over 1,000ft (304.8m).

Of the 541 listed, 209 of them are also Wainwrights. Whilst 65 of the hills have a Marilyn prominence, 169 have a prominence under 15m (49ft). 54 are solely Birketts, and are do not meet the definition for any other classification. Since the list is contained in an existing book, it is also deemed entire and not subject to the same additions and subtractions of other lists.

Here is the hill bagging list.

Synges (England only)

Elevation:

Prominence:

Isolation:

+Appeared in Tim Synges Guidebook

How Many?: 647

Pillar Rock. Credit: Mickledore

Lakeland seems to attract lists based purely on fancy, and indeed the Synges are simply the fells that appeared in Tim Synge’s 1995 Guidebook The Lakeland Summits: Survey of the Fells of the Lake District National Park and have no threshold for elevation, prominence or anything.

Even though it is list based on a book, two peaks have been added since its publication; High Rigg in 2017 and Oakhowe Crag in 2020.

Here is the hill bagging list.

Vandeleur-Lynams (Ireland only)

Elevation: at least 600m (1,969ft)

Prominence: at least 15m (49ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 273

Cnoc na Péiste. Credit: Cain Gram

Joss Lyman, aided by Rev CRP Vandeleur, compiled the list of Irish mountains that was equivalent to the Nuttalls. and published the list in his book Mountaineering in Ireland in 1976,

There’s not a lot of fun facts instantly available about there.I wanted to find out what a completist might be called – would it be a Vandelynteer? Or a Vanlynist? I do not know. Whatever the word is, James Forrest was at it again and set another record, doing the round of all 273 in 8 weeks.

Here is the hill bagging list.

Arderins and Arderin Begs (Ireland only)

Elevation: at least 500m (1,640ft)

Prominence:

  • Arderins: at least 30m (98ft)
  • Arderin Begs: between 15m–30m (49ft–98 ft)

Isolation:

How Many?:

  • Arderins: 407
  • Arderin Begs: 124

The Bones Peak. Credit: MountainViews

In 2002, MountainViews publisher Simon Stewart adapted an of the early listing of the Myrddyn Deweys to include the mountains of the Vandeleur-Lynams that met an increased prominence criterion. The qualification for this list was a minimum height of 500m (1,640ft) and a prominence of 30m (98ft).

In 2009 this list became known as the Arderins, named after the County Top hill of County Laois and County Offaly which translaters to ‘Height of Ireland’. The list was formally published in the 2013 book “A Guide to Ireland’s Mountain Summits: The Vandeleur-Lynams & the Arderins”.

Of the 407 Arderins, 207 are also Hewitts, and 222 are also Simms.

The term ‘Arderin Beg’ is used to describe an additional 124 mountains with a reduced prominence.

Mountain View takes the view that promoting the Arderins will spread out the environmental impact of hillwalking by introducing hikers new mountains over a wider geographic area. It also hopes that in setting it out as a potential challenge, more young people would be encouraged or interested to begin hillwalking, as well as having the activity better recognised as a sport. Lastly, in encouraging curiosity about the mountains in other areas, as well as the local archaeology and history, visitors are brought to more rural communities, aiding in their development.

Here is the hill bagging list from MountainViews.

MountainViews and Irish Highest Hundred (Ireland only)

Elevation: at least 500m (1,640ft)

Prominence: at least 100m (328ft)

Isolation:

How Many?: 222/100

Carrauntoohil. Credit: The Irish Times

In Simon Stewart’s 2013 book “A Guide to Ireland’s Mountain Summits: The Vandeleur-Lynams & the Arderins”, he proposed a new classification of mountain with a more significant prominence as well as an elevation above 500m (1,640ft).

He identified 222 peaks that fit the classification. From this, MountainViews themselves defined the ‘Irish Highest Hundred”

Here is the hill bagging list on MountainViews.

WASHIS (Wales Only)

Elevation: at least 600m (1,969ft)

Prominence: at least 50 metres (160ft)

Isolation:

How Many? 118

Moelwyn Mawr. Credit: The Walking Englishman

Despite being home to Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, Wales does not really have a list in its own right the same way England, Scotland and Ireland do. The UK hillwalking website, Mud and Routes, tried to rectify this by publishing a list of Washis; ‘Welsh and Six Hundred In Stature’. Unfortunately the list has not been adopted elsewhere, and the Welsh 3000s are significantly more popular.

Here is the Mud and Routes hill bagging list.

Other

For those looking for a challenge that is smaller (in stature at least) or more niche, there are several more lists to choose from:

County Tops:

Climbing to the highest point of each county has been a much loved challenge since at least the 1920s when John Rooke Corbett first tried it out. Here is the list.

Dodds:

In 2014, there was published a list of hills between 500m and 600m in height, with a prominence above 30m (98 ft) in Marhofn magazine. The magazine proposed that this list consolidated the parts of the Deweys, Donald Deweys, and Highland Fives under 600m that could be viewed as a downwards extension of the Simms. A Subdodd is Dodd that just fails by up to 10m on the prominence rule.

Here is the list.

Hardys:

Hardys are the highest point of any UK, Manx or Channel mountain range, an island that has a geographic area of at least1,000 acres, or in a top-tier administrative area. Recently, the Hardys of five low lying estuary islands were added to the list, taking it up to 347. The list recognises 61 hill ranges, 96 islands and 190 administrative areas.

Here is the list.

Carns:

337 hills in Ireland that have a height above 100m (328ft) and below 400m (1,312ft), and with a prominence over 30 metres (98 ft).

Here is the list

Binnions:

484 hills in Ireland that have a prominence of at least 100m (328ft) and a height below 400m (1,312ft). Possibly named for Binnion Hill, the site of a 1557 battle.

Here is the list.

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And I’m not even done! Well, I am, I really am. It’s literally taken an entire day to compile this entry, my laptop has massively overheated, and I’ve eaten at least six scones while sitting here (though I bet by the time you read this, I’ll be wishing I was sitting down eating scones)

If you want to check out the inactive lists, go right ahead. I’ll link you in fam.

Clems

Fellrangers

Yeamans

There’s also the Bridges and the Buxton and Lewis list, but they no longer seem to be present online in their entirety

Happy new year pals, whatever challenge you choose for the upcoming year, be it hillbagging, trailwalking, wildswimming or something far more personal, I wish you all the best in your endeavours. May 2022 bring you lots of happiness, good health, and, of course, some really lovely walks.

*

To keep up to date with every minute alteration to mountain statistics, data and names, visit the wonderful site Mapping Mountains

One thought on “Defining The Mountains

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