A view from cat bells,Cumbria,England

The Top 10 Mountains to Climb in the UK

The Monarch - Ben Nevis

Towering above all other peaks in the UK at 1,345 meters, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in not only Scotland but all of Great Britain. Located near the town of Fort William, “the Ben” features a range of climbing routes suitable for every skill level. The mountain is located in the western highlands, close to the town of Fort William. Ben Nevis attracts over 100,000 ascents a year, with thousands heading to the summit daily during the busier summer climbing season.


The most popular route up Ben Nevis starts from the visitor centre in Glen Nevis. The Pony Track offers a gradual ascent up the south side of the mountain, before steepening near the summit. This path takes climbers past scenic waterfalls and offers spectacular views, especially when the summit is clear. For those seeking more of a challenge, the formidable Carn Mor Dearg Arete provides an exciting scramble up steep rock faces with exceptional high-altitude vistas. The north face also presents experienced climbers with precipitous climbs up towering buttresses of ice and rock.


No matter which route you choose, be sure to come prepared, as Ben Nevis has notoriously volatile weather. The summit can feature driving rain one minute and blazing sun the next. Topping out on Ben Nevis is a rite of passage for UK climbers. Just remember to respect the mountain and watch the forecast before tackling Scotland’s highest peak.


For camping, head to the excellent Glen Nevis Camping & Caravan Site at the mountain's foot. The site provides tent pitches, camper van sites and cabins. The campground's location next to the visitor centre and the trailhead for the Pony Track makes it very convenient. After climbing The Monarch, recharge at the Ben Nevis Inn at the trailhead. This classic pub offers hearty meals, local brews and whiskies to warm up. In Fort William, The Grog & Gruel Pub provides traditional fare and live music.

The Emperor - Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike is England’s highest and most prominent peak at 978 meters tall. Located in the heart of the Lake District National Park, this mountain offers diverse multi-pitch rock climbing and hill walking. Scafell Pike's central location also makes it accessible. As the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike understandably draws crowds and often requires patience when ascending during peak season. However, the ample rewards are far worth any wait. The summit provides 360-degree views featuring neighbouring peaks such as Scafell and Helvellyn as well as expansive vistas across Great Langdale and Eskdale.


Most climbers tackle Scafell Pike starting from Wasdale Head, the mountain’s closest village. The main footpath leads steeply uphill before linking with the popular Corridor Route. This path takes hikers zigzagging up rock fields, scree, and boulder slopes before reaching the wide, rocky summit plateau. For a more technical ascent, the West Wall Traverse presents a thrilling grade 3 scramble up the Pike’s imposing vertical cliffs. The classic Broad Stand also offers an exposed clamber up the mountain's bristling Broad Crag col. Whether you’re hiking, scrambling or climbing, Scafell Pike always rewards those who make an effort with far-reaching views of some of England’s most scenic landscapes. Just be sure to check the weather and take proper gear, as the Pike's summit remains notoriously cool and windy even on sunny days.


Camp in scenic Wasdale at the National Trust Wasdale Campsite. This tent-only, basic site sits surrounded by the soaring fells at the start point for Scafell Pike. Arrive early in peak season to claim a spot. Reward summiting The Emperor with a pint at the Wasdale Head Inn. This wood-beamed pub near the campsite serves meals and ales fireside. In Seascale, grab traditional English grub at The White Horse Inn.

The Pillars - Tryfan

Soaring above Ogwen Valley in Snowdonia National Park, Tryfan presents advanced climbers with rough ridges, sheer faces and one of Wales’ most iconic peaks. While just 917 meters tall, this mountain demands skill and care when climbing due to its technical terrain and remote feel. Two of Tryfan’s most popular features are its twin summits, Adam and Eve. These monolithic pillars require nerve-wracking airy scrambles up quartzite rock to stand atop. The lower South Ridge presents a thrilling Grade 1 climb with exceptional views. 


However, it’s the North Ridge that draws experienced climbers. The exposed ridge features towers, slabs and narrow traverses, requiring advanced multi-pitch climbing and scrambling skills. Nearby areas like Milestone Buttress and the East Face offer exceptional technical routes as well. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Snowdonia National Park, Tryfan delivers adventure in abundance. Just be sure to only attempt climbs well within your ability and watch closely for changing conditions on its loose rock. With care, this iconic Welsh peak makes for an unforgettable alpine experience without even leaving the UK.


The nearby Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre offers exceptional camping complete with showers, laundry and a shop. Or get back to nature at the more basic Gwern Gôf Isaf campsite in Capel Curig. Unwind at the Tan-Y-Garth Country Pub in Capel Curig. Cosy and welcoming, it serves classic Welsh dishes and local beers. In Betws-y-Coed, enjoy gastropub eats at The Stables Bar & Bist.

Evening light on Mount Tryfan above Llyn Ogwen in Snowdonia National Park in Wales

The Wall - Helvellyn

Reaching a height of 950 meters, Helvellyn is one of the most distinctive fells in England's Lake District. Straddling the border between Cumberland and Westmorland, Helvellyn offers exhilarating scrambles and multi-pitch climbs up sculpted ridges and soaring faces. Most climbers begin from Glenridding or Thirlspot, following trails through the breathtaking mountain scenery to Helvellyn's lower ridges. Here, options like the thrilling grade-1 scramble Striding Edge await. This infamous route travels along Helvellyn's narrow, serrated crest toward the summit. The north face also presents exceptional challenges like the vertigo-inducing Swirral Edge and the sheer rock climb of Brown Cove Crags. To the south lies Birkhouse Moor and the chiselled pyramid of Catstye Cam, both offering exposed, airy scrambles to test your nerve.


Given its location and classic routes, Helvellyn attracts huge crowds during peak seasons. Arrive early and prepare for rapid weather changes on its summit plateaus. While rewarding, Helvellyn still requires full respect regarding route finding, navigation skills and proper gear. Tackle this Lake District icon and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic fell and lake vistas you won't soon forget. Quench your thirst at the Travellers Rest Inn in Glenridding. This lively pub overlooks Ullswater for sunset drinks. In Patterdale, duck into the White Lion Inn for cask ales and hearty, homemade pub meal.



The Roof - Pen y Fan

As the highest peak in South Wales, Pen y Fan offers a scenic hike or more technical climb above the vast Brecon Beacons reservoir. Though only 886 meters tall, Pen y Fan boasts an imposing profile that has made it an exceedingly popular climb. Most hikers ascend via the 6-mile roundtrip footpath starting from the Storey Arms. This straightforward hiking trail winds gradually uphill, offering great views of surrounding peaks and the Taf Fechan reservoir en route. Be aware that as a popular family hike, the main path is often very crowded on weekends and holidays. For a more technical challenge, the North Ridge presents an exposed Grade 1 scramble-up slabby rock and grassy slopes. The ridge culminates in the summit’s distinctive, wave-like cornice. Meanwhile, the South Ridge scrambling path zigzags up a loose, rocky incline before meeting the main foot trail.


Given its ease of access and scenic surroundings, Pen y Fan shouldn't be underestimated. Be sure to bring proper gear, navigation skills and adequate food and water when climbing this Welsh peak. Time your visit on non-holiday weekdays to avoid the crowds if possible. Enjoy the fantastic views and you’ll see why Pen y Fan is so beloved.


Pitch your tent at the Beacons Backpackers campsite, just near Pen y Fan's trailhead. Or enjoy the amenities of the glamping pods and camper van sites at Llwyn Onn Isaf in Abercraf. Fill up on meals and Welsh beers at the Red Lion Pub in Brecon's town centre. Or enjoy a pint by the fireplace at Brecon's lively General Napier Inn.


The Giant - Snowdon

Wales’s highest mountain at 1,085 meters, Snowdon and its six different rec paths draw over 500,000 hikers annually. Though crowded, Snowdon's ascent options allow most any skill level to sample the panoramic views from the roof of Wales. Most climbers make the 5-mile roundtrip hike from Llanberis up the Llanberis Path. This trail follows the route of Snowdon's historic railway up gradual inclines toward the peak. More intrepid hikers can continue to Snowdon's narrow summit ridge for exceptional vistas.


For Bold Alpinists, the South Ridge presents an exciting grade-1 ascent up rocky outcrops via the Knife Edge Arête. Or head up Snowdon's northwest face via the Snowdon Ranger path for scenic lakeside trails before a non-technical ascent. 


No matter your chosen route, be sure to closely monitor Snowdon's volatile weather before attempting an ascent. Changeable conditions demand proper gear and cautious route-finding. While crowded, Wales' highest mountain rewards those who summit with breathtaking panoramas and a true sense of achievement. Base yourself at one of Snowdon's classic campgrounds like Camping Snowdonia or Gwern Gôf Uchaf with tent sites and camper van hookups. Warm up with a pint at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel. Mountaineers have gathered at this historic pub since the 1953 Everest expedition. In Llanberis, relish modern Welsh cuisine at The Peak Restaurant.

The Blade - Crib Goch

Crib Goch offers exhilarating grade-1 ridge climbs on the knife-edge arête leading to the peak of Snowdon. Located within Snowdonia National Park, Crib Goch attracts experienced climbers thanks to its exceptional exposure.


Towering above Llyn Llydaw Lake, Crib Goch’s arête presents a narrow crest of loose, jagged rock. Mountaineers carefully pick their way along the undulating ridge, working around or climbing over teeth-like pinnacles. Sheer drop-offs severely punish any slips or poor route finding.


Crib Goch’s west ridge which connects with Garnedd Ugain further tests climbers with airy traverses and downclimbs. Meanwhile, the east ridge that meets with Snowdon presents another exhilarating knife-edge scramble.  Given its challenge, tackling Crib Goch alone is never advisable. Come prepared with proper gear and route-finding abilities.

The Watcher - Slieve Donard

At 850 meters, The Watcher surveils Northern Ireland as its highest peak. Part of the scenic Mourne Mountains, Slieve Donard offers pleasing scrambles up the Devil's Coach Road footpath as well as more technical rock climbing on its granite cliffs. The easiest way to the top is via the 4-mile roundtrip Devil's Coach Road route. The well-built path winds gradually up the southern slopes, providing superb vistas over Newcastle and the Irish Sea. More challenging scrambling trails like the icy Chimney Climb and the exposed Stanhope Step offer exhilarating ways to the top for experienced climbers. Slieve Donard’s positioning right against the sea makes its summit even more stunning. The panoramic views stretch across the emerald-green Mourne Mountains down to the shimmering ocean and surrounding villages dotted with stone walls and cottages. Just be ready for robust winds blasting in from the channel when you top out.


Camping opportunities abound with Slieve Donard as well. Pitch your tent just under the mountain’s watchful gaze at the Hare’s Gap campsite. Operated by the Mourne Heritage Trust, it offers basic tent camping surrounded by incredible scenery. In Newcastle, the Scenic Caravan Park puts you within walking distance of Donard’s trails. After climbing The Watcher, celebrate with a pint at the historic Percy French Inn in Newcastle. This delightful pub serves local seafood, pints of Guinness, and often hosts live Irish folk music. The Strangford Lough Brewing Company Taproom in nearby Killough is also a wonderful spot for craft beers with scenic outdoor seating.


With its stunning seaside setting and enjoyable summit scrambles, Slieve Donard is a must-climb when visiting Northern Ireland. Just be sure to prep for blustery winds when standing atop this picturesque 850-meter peak by the sea.

The Bell - Catbells

While one of the smaller fells in the Lake District at 451 meters, Catbells still offers a delightful summit scramble with panoramic views across Derwentwater. Its proximity to Keswick makes it one of the most popular short mountain hikes in the region. Most hikers take the 2-mile route up from Hawkshead Hill. The well-built path climbs gradually across open grassy slopes revealing increasingly spectacular vistas of Skiddaw, Blencathra, and Derwentwater's shimmering expanse. Near the top, a short rocky scramble leads to Catbell's narrow summit ridge and 360-degree views.


Camping abounds around Catbells as well. Pitch your tent lakeside at the Keswick Camping and Caravan Club Site with Derwentwater views. Or stay in Keswick proper at the scenic Skiddaw Grove Hotel with its exceptional restaurant. After your hike, recharge in Keswick at the scenic Dog and Gun Inn established in 1577. Their cosy interior, cask ales, and pub grub provide the perfect post-walk respite. For a special dining experience, book a table at The Pheasant Inn overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake.


While short in stature, Catbells still offers a wonderful Lake District hike with panoramic falls and lake vistas. Its ease of access from Keswick makes it the perfect family-friendly feel to ascend. Just watch younger ones carefully on the rocky upper scramble.

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