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    Bigger Isn't Always Better

    Corbetts, Grahams and Sub-2000s Worth Bagging

    By Meike van Krimpen, Content Editor
    More by Meike

    Scotland's Best Small Mountains

    Scotland is known for its mountainous terrain and is a mecca for hill walkers worldwide. The 282 Munro summits, all towering above 3000 ft have always demanded attention. The challenge of conquering these peaks has inspired people to seek out and summit Scotland’s highest mountains for decades. “Bagging” all 282 peaks is a common goal amongst diehard Scottish hill walkers. Because of this, people often overlook the smaller hills like the Corbetts, Grahams and Sub-2000s. Undeservedly so as many of Scotland’s smaller hills still pack a punch and provide awesome views from the summit. Corbetts are between 2,500 and 3,000 feet high with at least 500 feet of descent on all sides. Grahams are between 2,000 and 2,500 feet high with at least 150 feet of descent on all sides and finally, unsurprisingly, Sub-2,000s are the hills that are less than 2,000 feet high. There are many lists about Munros, ranging from the best Munros for beginners to the most challenging ones – but not many answering which Corbetts are best, or the most rewarding Grahams to do or the coolest Sub-2000 hills to bag. That’s where we step in. Our office and guiding team are the Scottish outdoor experts and have been all over Scotland, and up many a hill. Below we’ve gathered some of our favourite Corbetts, Grahams and Sub-2000s which we think everyone should hike at least once.

    Before heading out into the hills, even smaller ones, always check the conditions, we recommend the Mountain Weather Information Service for the most up to date and accurate information. Also, ensure you’re prepared for your adventure with the right clothing, kit and navigation accessories.

    The Best Corbetts

    Corbetts – the second tier in Scotland’s class of mountains. There are currently 222 Corbetts in Scotland – this count changes semi-regularly as mountains switch between class tables due to more recent surveys and increasing accuracy in height measurement. To our knowledge, Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh was most recently demoted in 2012, shedding its Munro mantel and now competing for the title of one of the highest Corbetts with Foinaven in Sutherland and Beinn Dearg in Torridon. The name ‘Corbett’ comes from John Rooke Corbett, who compiled the first list of them in the 1920s. Like Munros, people have made a hobby of climbing all the Corbetts although it’s less popular than Munro bagging and is often the next move once you’ve completed your first round of the higher peaks.

    The mountains we’ve chosen in this collection of “Best Corbetts to Do” are hands-down our favourites – not because they’re the highest or the most challenging, but because they’re set in awesome locations and in the right conditions provide excellent days out with incredible views and good chances for spotting interesting wildlife.

    Before heading out into the hills, even smaller ones, always check the conditions, we recommend the Mountain Weather Information Service for the most up to date and accurate information. Also, ensure you’re prepared for your adventure with the right clothing, kit and navigation accessories.

    The Cobbler / Ben Arthur

    Where: Arrochar Alps
    Height: 2,900 feet / 884 meters
    Difficulty: Moderate

    The Cobbler is renowned to be a great walk. It’s set beautifully in the Arrochar Alps and provides a varied route involving clear tracks, steep ascent and some scrambling. The impressive pinnacle is the true summit and you’ll need to be a confident scrambler with a head for heights to thread the needle and get to the top of it. If you’re a bit intimidated by the pinnacle but don’t want to miss out on the action, there is some more accessible scrambling on the north peak which we recommend that isn’t too hard and has excellent views.

    Walking Descriptions

    Meall a’ Bhuachaille

    Where: The Cairngorms National Park
    Height: 2,657 feet / 810 meters
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Meall a ‘Bhuachaille is an excellent hill walk in the Cairngorms and a great warm-up for bigger days. Starting from Glenmore a circular route takes you through Caledonian pine forest, past the famous green lochan, to Ryvoan bothy and up a steep but wide ridge. You’re rewarded with incredible views of the Cairngorm plateau looming over Loch Morlich to the south and Abernethy forest to the northeast. We usually walk Meall a ‘Bhuachaille on our High Points of the Cairngorms trip.

    Walking Descriptions

    Askival

    Where: The Isle of Rum
    Height: 2,664 feet / 812 meters
    Difficulty: Severe

    This one might be a bit cheeky to include in this list as it’s difficult to make Askival a solitary hill day. It is usually part of a bigger walk that’ll involve other hills on either a strenuous circular route or a very long there and back again slog from Kinloch castle. Despite this, it’s a great peak and should be on your to-do list if possible. The pyramidal shape of Askival is the most recognisable of Rum’s iconic mountain silhouette, and also the highest. Askival itself involves some rocky scrambling but you’ll stand a good chance to see eagles soaring overhead.

    Walking Descriptions

    Beinn Dàmh

    Where: Torridon
    Height: 2,962 feet / 903 meters
    Difficulty: Moderate

    An impressive but relatively easy hill with excellent views over the other mountains, Loch Torridon and the sea. The route goes up through lovely pinewoods before crossing heather moorland and cresting onto ridge paths. It’s a great walk for admiring the awe-inspiring wilderness landscapes of Torridon and its ancient mountains. The name Beinn Dàmh translates to ‘Hill of the Stag’, and unsurprisingly, being smack in the middle of a deer estate, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures close up. Walk with it us on our High Points of Torridon and Wester Ross walking holiday.

    Walking Descriptions

    Ben Vrackie

    Where: Perthshire
    Height: 2,759 feet / 841 meters
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Ben Vrackie is probably one of the most popular Corbetts and most frequently walked with its central location, good paths and pretty views. From the summit, you can gaze out to the nearby mountain ranges and glens below. If the weather is good these are the best views you’re going to get in the Southern Highlands. Ben Vrackie also gets called the “Speckled Mountain” because it used to be speckled with white quartz rocks. Now it’s a bit more speckled with other people such as day-trippers, family walkers and happy doggos. The excellent pathway makes it a busy hill which isn’t to everyone’s taste but also makes it a hill suitable for year-round hiking.

    Walking Descriptions

    Goatfell

    Where: Isle of Arran
    Height: 2,867 feet / 874 meters
    Difficulty: Moderate

    The highest of Arran’s peaks, Goatfell looms over Brodick. The easiest approach is from Brodick castle, but there are various alternative options to make it more challenging and a longer day. People often refer to the Isle of Arran as “Scotland in Miniature”, and Goatfell adds to that description. It offers a magnificent summit, with great ridge walking and wonderful views. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and buzzards! Fun fact, as you start your walk from pretty much sea level you’re doing as much if not more ascent than on many more baggable Munro routes. We take the steeper Corrie route on our Arran walking holiday.

    Walking Descriptions

    The Best Grahams

    After Corbetts you get Grahams, and at the current count, there are 219 of them. Why Grahams are called Grahams gets pretty convoluted, but they were originally roughly defined as lesser Corbetts, and then more definitions came into play like Donalds (lowland hills that exceed 2,000 feet) and Marilyns (hills in the British Isles above 450 feet). There is a wonderfully confusing list of mountains and hills in the British Isles on Wikipedia that you should check out if you’re really interested. The Grahams list published in 1997 by the Scottish Mountaineering Society was collated by Alan Dawn and Fiona Torbet (née Graham). Beinn Talaidh on the Isle of Mull is the highest Graham whilst the unnoteworthy Beinn a’Mheadhoin in Glen Affric claims the title of the smallest Graham. Someone who reaches the summits of all 2019 Grahams is called a Grahamist and there are over 200 official completers.

    Here we’ve gathered 6 of our favourite Grahams, a tough job with so many great hills to choose from. We think these offer the best balance between hillwalking fun and the best views.

    Before heading out into the hills, even smaller ones, always check the conditions, we recommend the Mountain Weather Information Service for the most up to date and accurate information. Also, ensure you’re prepared for your adventure with the right clothing, kit and navigation accessories.

    Stac Pollaidh

    Where: Assynt
    Height: 2,000 feet / 612 meters
    Difficulty: Easy

    Stac Pollaidh is just a belter of a walk – and so short! A popular 5km circular route takes you round the hill, up and down the ridge and round the other side in around 2-4 hours. The paths are clear, but steep and can be a bit loose due to weathering. There are other ways up, with more direct paths on both sides of the ridge but people are encouraged to stick to the main path to minimise erosion. Most walkers will be satisfied with reaching the lowest point of the ridge, the views are truly epic with Stac Pollaidh’s neighbouring mountains rising starkly out of the flat coastal landscape. If you want to reach the true summit of the hill, you’ll need to do a bit of advanced scrambling so tread with caution. We include an ascent of Stac Pollaidh on our Wilds of Assynt trip.

    Walking Descriptions

    The Pap of Glencoe / Sgorr na Ciche

    Where: Glencoe
    Height: 2,434 feet / 742 meters
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    The Pap of Glencoe provides a varied walk with some seriously steep sections and rewarding views. It’s is a great hill to spend half a day on. It sits at the western end of the Aonach Eagach ridge and above Loch Leven, so the summit is a prime spot for admiring the majesty of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges. Pack your lunch to eat here as you’ll want to spend a bit of time enjoying the full 360 of beauty around you. The there and back again nature of the walk isn’t a punishment as the views in either direction are great. The final bit to the top is very rocky but an easy and unexposed scramble. Although it’s just a wee hill compared to its towering neighbours, it’s not to be underestimated. The path is eroded and can get slippy in wet weather.

    Walking Descriptions

    Marsco

    Where: Isle of Skye
    Height: 2,414 feet / 736 meters
    Difficulty: Moderate

    Marsco is an excellent peak in the Red Hills, usually admired from the Sligachan bridge. Often overlooked with more famous and bigger hills to bag nearby, its grassy and airy summit is a great spot for admiring the rest of the Cuillins and the dramatic ridgeline of Sgùrr nan Gillean. Marsco is often described as one of the best Grahams in Scotland. The most popular route is through Glen Sligachan and following the Allt na Measarroch upstream.

    Walking Descriptions

    Ben Venue

    Where: Loch Lomond & the Trossachs
    Height: 2,391 feet / 729 meters
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    There are various excellent peaks in the Trossachs but one of our favourites is Ben Venue. It’s got all the ingredients of a great day out with great views and varied walking that’s challenging enough to keep it interesting. Ben Venue is most frequently walked from either from Loch Achray or Ledard Farm. Your efforts to the top are rewarded with fantastic views (weather permitting) of Loch Katrine and the neighbouring Ben A’an, Ben More and Ben Lomond.

    Walking Descriptions

    Ben Cleuch

    Where: The Ochills
    Height: 2,365 feet / 721 meters
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Ben Cleugh is the highest of the Ochills and a great hill walk to do in Central Scotland. The Ochill’s used to serve as a natural boundary line, hindering easy travel between Fife and Stirlingshire. Most people ascend Ben Cleugh from Tillicoultry, but you can also do it from Alva. The views from the summit can be amazing if the weather plays along. To the north, you can see Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi as well as Ben Vorlich and Stùc a’ Chròin and to the south the Forth valley and maybe even the 3 bridges if you’re lucky. Please note that the area is dotted with wind turbines but they don’t impede the view too much. Fun fact, Ben Cleugh is also a Donald, a hill in lowland Scotland that’s over 2,000 feet.

    Walking Descriptions

    The Storr

    Where: Isle of Skye
    Height: 2,352 feet / 717 meters
    Difficulty: Moderate

    The Storr is undeniably iconic. Looming above the Old Man of Storr, it’s featured in countless photographs. The steep cliffs contrast sharply with the grassy slopes below. Few choose to go all the way up the Storr. Most will visit the Old Man, the rocky pinnacle nearer to the bottom in an area called the Sanctuary and return. A full ascent rewards you with jaw-dropping views of the Old Man of Storr and the rest of the Trotternish Ridge. To summit you need to be comfortable going pathless and scrambling over rocky terrain. Depending on the group and weather we walk up to the Old Man of Storr and beyond on our Isle of Skye holiday and our trip to the Outer Hebrides & Skye.

    Walking Descriptions

    The Best Sub-2000s

    Last but certainly not least are the sub-2000 hills. These are the peaks in Scotland that sit between 150 meters / 492 feet and 609.6 meters / 2,000 feet. Sub-2000s appears to be a walkhighlands classification – as there isn’t really an official term for them. The closest thing would be a Marilyn – a term used across the British Isles to denote a peak with a prominence over 150 meters, regardless of any other factors such as height, isolation etc. However, following that description, every Graham, Corbett and Munro would also be a Marilyn. That’s rather confusing so we’re embracing this term too.

    In a notoriously mountainous country, the wee hills we’ve listed here are just as rewarding as the meatiest Munro. These sub-2000ers are fantastic days out, with great views and scenery, and shouldn’t take up the whole day.

    Before heading out into the hills, even smaller ones, always check the conditions, we recommend the Mountain Weather Information Service for the most up to date and accurate information. Also, ensure you’re prepared for your adventure with the right clothing, kit and navigation accessories.

    An Sgùrr

    Where: Isle of Eigg
    Height: 1,289 feet / 393 meters
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Easily one of the finest hills in Scotland with unparalleled views. Sheer vertical drops grace Eigg’s impressive An Sgùrr on 3 sides, but you can easily reach the top from the fourth side on a wide broad ridge. The views are unobstructed and vast, looking out in all directions over the sea to the nearby islands, the hills of the mainland and Skye’s dramatic Cuillins. The Sgùrr is a result of an ancient lava flow that came from the volcano that used to be on the nearby Isle of Rum. There are more great walks on the small Isle of Eigg, like Laig Bay and the Singing Sands at Cleadale so if you’re a keen walker the trip over to the island is totally worth it. We often visit the Isle of Eigg and walk up An Sgùrr on our walking holiday based on the Knoydart Peninsula.

    Walking Descriptions

    Bennachie

    Where: Aberdeenshire
    Height: 1,735 feet / 529 meters
    Difficulty: Easy

    A local’s favourite, Bennachie is easily the most popular hill walk in Aberdeenshire. The highest point is Oxen Craig but the subsidiary peak Mither Tap (518m) is more famous with a bonus Iron age hillfort ruins at the summit. Bennachie strikes an iconic shape. It’s very prominent, as the rest of the area is relatively flat and Bennachie may remind a visitor of a woman lying down, with Mither Tap standing in for an ample bosom. There are several ways to climb Bennachie, there’s a long circuit, a direct approach taking in both peaks or the option to only do Oxen Craig or only Mither Tap. Watch out for red squirrels and roe deer on your way up. The views from both peaks are good, the area is surrounded by farmland, woodland and moors.

    Walking Descriptions

    Ben A’an

    Where: Loch Lomond & the Trossachs
    Height: 1,485 feet / 454 meters
    Difficulty: Easy

    Ben A’an has the most recognisable viewpoint of all the hills in Scotland, and its ease of access makes it a popular one. It’s a small hike with big rewards. The panoramic views are epic and the walk is easy and takes in woodland, moorland and craggy hillside. The rocky summit of Ben A’an looks like a whole mountain in itself and is often referred to as the mountain in miniature. From the top, you can see Loch Katrine, Ben Venue, Ben Lomond and Loch Achray. Meall Gainmheich is actually the parent peak of Ben A’an and the one you’ll find on the sub-2000 list, Ben A’an is actually just protrusion on this large moorland hill that’s unnotable and rarely walked in its entirety.

    Walking Description

    Dumyat

    Where: The Ochills
    Height: 1,371 feet / 418 meters
    Difficulty: Easy

    Much loved by local walkers and mountain bikers, Dumyat sits at the western end of the Ochills. It’s a cracking wee hill, and a great morning or afternoon explore if you’re in the area and looking for a satisfactory leg stretch. Dumyat has two summits, Castle Law to the southwest and the slight higher Dumyat proper to the northeast, and there are two popular routes to take in both. The paths up the hill are generally good but can get boggy. The views on the way up are just as good as they are from the summit, with clear days offering the Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle, Ben Lomond, Ben Vorlich, Ben Ledi and Ben Lawers as well as the Forth Valley.

    Walking Descriptions

    Sgurr na Stri

    Where: Isle of Skye
    Height: 1,630 feet / 497 meters
    Difficulty: Moderate

    Sgurr na Stri may be the ultimate best small hill in Scotland. Reaching the top is no easy feat, not because it’s exceptionally difficult but because it’s very isolated. You can take a boat into Loch Coruisk and ascend from there (we sometimes do this on our Isle of Skye and Knoydart Peninsula trip) or a long walk in from Glen Sligachan. Either way, it’s worth the effort. The views over Loch Coruisk, the sea and the Small Isles and the rest of the Cuillins are simply magnificent.

    Walking Descriptions

    North Berwick Law

    Where: East Lothian
    Height: 613 feet / 187 meters
    Difficulty: Easy

    The shortest hill we’ve included, North Berwick Law packs a punch. An ancient volcanic plug, it’s a very impressive canonical hill that looms above the lovely seaside town of North Berwick. The views are fantastic, and if weather permits you can gaze out over the coast, Bass Rock, the Pentlands, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh. Keep an eye out for the wild ponies that roam the hill, and the whale bone replica at the summit.

    Walking Descriptions

    Meet the Author: Meike van Krimpen

    “Having grown up travelling across the world I’ve developed an addiction to all things spice and to travel! When it was time to go to university I wandered off to Scotland for a new adventure and have not managed to leave yet!”

    View profileMore by Meike

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