United Kingdom

                                                                                                                                    Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak  (photo courtesy of Stewart Huntington)

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) lies off the north-western coast of mainland Europe.  It comprises the main island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and numerous smaller islands.  The total area is about 245,000 square kilometres. 


The UK consists of the nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have devolved national administrations enjoying varying degrees of autonomy.  In the Irish sea, between England and Northern Ireland lies the Isle of Man, which also has a semi-autonomous status.  Other British semi-autonomous protectorates in Europe are Jersey and Guernsey (Channel Islands) and Gibraltar. 


The geology of the UK is very complex, and this complexity gives rise to a great variety of landscapes and scenery.   The oldest rocks (gneisses), which are located in Northern Scotland, are at least 2,700 mya.  For a summary of the geology of the country, see the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_the_United_Kingdom

The principle upland areas of the UK are in the west and north of Great Britain (and its lesser islands), and in the south-east of Northern Ireland.  More details are given in the subsidiary national pages on this website (see below). 

Most of the mountainous areas of the country are no higher than 1000m (Ben Nevis, the highest peak, is 1344m).  What the hills and mountains of the UK lack in height is made up for by their age.  What is seen today are the ancient stumps of mountain ranges that were originally higher than the Alps.  An additional challenge in climbing the hills of Britain is the rapid changes in weather.


A case could be made that the hills and mountains of the United Kingdom have been listed for ‘peak-bagging’ purposes more than any other country in the world.  However, many of the earliest lists (e.g. the ‘Munros’ – the 3000ft mountains of Scotland, first published in 1891) are particular to one nation in the United Kingdom.   

The first list to comprise all of Great Britain and its lesser islands was composed by Alan Dawson in his seminal work ‘The Relative Hills of Britain’ in 1992, in which he listed all the hills and mountains of at least 150 metres of prominence (called ‘the Marilyns’).  His book can be found online at http://bubl.ac.uk/org/tacit/marilyns/, with updates at http://www.rhb.org.uk/


Alan’s work was further extended by Eric Yeaman, Clem Clements, David Purchase, Tony Payne and Rob Woodall and others, who produced lists down to 30m of prominence.  These lists were used by a young compiler called Mark Jackson, who has put together a grand list of all the hills and mountains of at least 100m of prominence (‘the Hundred Metre Prominences’, or ‘HuMPs’) and, later to 30m of prominence.  His lists of British HuMPs can be found at http://www.rhb.org.uk/humps/ where an e-book can be downloaded for free. 


Also recommended is http://www.prominentpeaks.org.uk/ - a database of hills in the UK over 500m in height and at least 100m of prominence.

The aim in the lists for the UK presented on this website, and in the various UK nations pages (see below), is to offer hikers some alternative lists based on metric standards, bringing the UK into line with other lists of hills and mountains for mainland Europe to be found elsewhere on this website. 

Published below for the first time, you will find the list to download, in two parts, of John Kirk's "Thousanders".  John adopts a new approach to selecting the hills for his list, combining both height and drop values.  His list covers both Britain and Ireland, and currently totals 705 hills and mountains.  

At the bottom of this page you will also find to download and print a list of the 120 Major Summits of Britain and Ireland (i.e. those that have at least 600 metres of prominence).  Also to download and print is a register of the people who have completed this list, together with, courtesy of Chris Watson, the register of those who have climbed at least 1200 British HuMPs and so are entitled to be enrolled in the HuMP Hall of Fame.

Useful websites for UK hill-bagging:

Also below is a guidance note on where to find the registers of people who have completed one or more of the lists of UK hills and mountains, and how to register a completion.  

Lists uploaded below: 
  • Guidance note on UK hill completion registers
  • HuMP Hall of Fame
  • The 120 Mountains in Britain & Ireland of at least 600m of drop/prominence - a downloadable leaflet, fitting on one double-sided page of A4 paper.
  • Register of Completers of the 120
  • John Kirk's "Thousanders" Part I - only available in e-booklet version
  • John Kirk's "Thousanders" Part II - only available in e-booklet version
Mark Trengove,
7 Jan 2013, 05:23
Mark Trengove,
15 Apr 2012, 15:16
Mark Trengove,
14 May 2012, 13:38