Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team
UK Hot Hill Haunts
By Hati Whiteley
20, Oct, 2017
Why go to the Alps and Norway when you can go the Scotland and the Lakes? Okay, we do love those far-flung places, but sometimes nothing beats our own boggy island...
Alpkit was founded on Alpine dreaming, but our feet are planted deeply in the bogs of the Peak District, on the ridges of the Cairngorms, and atop the summits of North Wales. We love venturing off to new destinations, but we’re always grateful to come back to our little Island- even in the winter. With such a variety of phenomenal landscapes on offer, who can blame us? And where better to take it all in than from the top of a hill?
Somehow overlooked for more popular ranges, great crests, concealed tarns and profound lakes of the Carneddau Range are some of Snowdonia’s best-kept secrets. More peaceful than other areas of the National Park, the Carneddau conjures up fond memories of finding a space away from the hustle bustle and the views from the top of Pen-yr-oleu-wen.
Dave doesn't know the meaning of going slowly, but he sure does like Carneddau
Home to easily some of the most photographed spots of the Snowdonia National Park, one of which the Cantilever Stone, a walk in the Glyders guarantees characterful scenery. The forces of nature were feeling particularly creative when this range was formed, with distinct craggy formations, diverse landscapes and striking peaks, it’s no surprise that this is such a favourite amongst mountain lovers.
The highest peak in the range, Moel Siabod supplies spectacular views over Wales which at some points encompass 13 of its 14 highest peaks. The ascent to the foot of the ridgeline from Capel Curig reveals a series of tarns, each larger and more spectacular than the last, before the level rocky ridgeline climbs before plateauing at the mountain’s highest point. The Moel Siabod Café at Capel Curig also happens to have the best scones we’ve ever tasted.
The pride of the Peak District: as steeped in history as it is in peak bogs and technically more of an elevated plateau encompassing the highest point in the Peak District than a mountain. A ramble around the Kinder Trespass Route reminds us of battles fought in the 30s so that we could continue to enjoy the land, and the walk across the plateau, often shrouded in fog, has baffled many a hillwalker.
How not to navigate, Kinder Scout
Approaching the Malverns, it’s hard to believe that they’re actually there. A long, steep-flanked, grassy ridge – 1 kilometre across at its widest - it rises to 1000 feet at points from the otherwise unbroken flatness of the Severn vale. Making your way along its spine over the 15 peaks is a pleasant and mainly easy-going hillwalk, with regular ‘nip out’ spots along the way and a patchwork of fields as far as the eye can see.
The tor-capped moorland of Dartmoor feels wild, remote and mystical; legend has it that they’re also the home to pixies, headless horsemen, and the Hound of the Baskervilles, but we reckon you should be more worried about coming across a tricky bit of bog… A well plotted circuit can lead you over some of Dartmoor’s highest tors, including High Willhays and Yes Tor, although navigation is not always plain sailing.
The scramble along Hall’s Fell Ridge, the narrow crest that tops out on the highest point of Blencathra, was described by Wainwright as one of the finest way to any mountain top in the district. Although the summit itself is far less spectacular, the view towards the fells beyond Derwent water is certainly isn’t!
Blencathra, although maybe not a good day for making the most of the view
If an accessible walk with a good ‘proper good views’ to ‘effort in’ ratio is what you’re after, Fairfield Horseshoe is a pretty safe bet. A classic walk with fine views over much of Lakeland, it’s a popular route. However, we’ve found many a quiet moment out on the ridge on an autumn weekday.
The gateway to the highlands, the Trossachs, is an ideal spot for a weekend out on the hill, although there's enough hillwalking to keep you going for far longer than that! Without doubt, the most popular is Ben Lomond. Gentle terrain and little need requirement for navigation make Ben Lomond one of the more accessible of Scotland’s Munros, however by taking the longer Ptarmigan ridge is far more impressive, and will give you a little space to yourself – at least until you reach the summit!
Sometimes the view at the bottom of the hill is as wonderful as the view at the top, Loch Lomond
The Cairngorms consist of a huge elevated plateau - the largest area of high ground in Britain – adorned with bare, red, granite mountains. An area this vast takes a lot of exploring, but Ben Macdhui in fair weather is not a bad place to start. At 650 metres, it’s not long until you find yourself high on the Cairmgorm plateau, enjoying a remarkable panorama of the surrounding mountains. Good mountain navigation know-how is essential, as is stamina and good weather!
Not sure what to take? Read our Hillwalking Kit List Spotlight
Looking for even more inspiration? AlpCol recently revisited his old friend, Ben Nevis, and wrote a Daring Deed to tell us all about it!