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The summit of Beinn Ghobhlach with Scoraig peninsula beyond
The summit of Beinn Ghobhlach with Scoraig peninsula beyond

Five of the best small mountains in Scotland (that aren’t Munros)

Already ticked off all the Munros? Or looking to get away from the Munro-baggers? While smaller mountains may not boast the highest peaks, they offer unparalleled beauty and distinctive character. Here are five of Scotland's finest mountains that are often overlooked.

Heading towards Quinag
Heading towards Quinag

1. QUINAG(808m)
from the Gaelic cuinneag, meaning 'milking pail'

Where: Sutherland
Distance:
13km (8 miles)
Time:
5hr 30min–6hr
Ascent:
1200m
Difficulty: This is a long, challenging route.

Quinag’s huge y-shaped form dominates north Assynt. With five tops (three of them Corbetts, if you’re counting), stunning scenery, exciting ridges and sea views it is an absolute epic. Not only that but it’s located in one of the wildest parts of Scotland, made up of the oldest rocks in the country and was once part of North America. What’s not to love!

While you're there: Check out the atmospheric ruins of Ardvreck Castle, perched at the foot of Quinag on the banks of Loch Assynt. But watch out for the ghost of the Marquis of Montrose...

The wilderness of Fionn Loch
The wilderness of Fionn Loch

2. BEINN AIRIGH CHARR(791m)
'hill of the mossy' or 'rough sheiling'

Where: Wester Ross
Distance:
25km (15½ miles)
Time:
8hr
Ascent:
1100m
Difficulty: This is a long route, but on good, straightforward tracks.

Rising up out of the watery landscape of Letterewe, this little-known gem of a mountain stands proud behind Poolewe flanked by Loch Maree on one side and Fionn Loch to the other. The Torridon hills spread out to the south and An Teallach peeks up to the north. This countryside is truly beautiful and unique in many ways.

While you're there: Poolewe’s better known for Inverewe Gardens, famous for growing exotic plants in the north of Scotland and the deep waters of Loch Ewe that were used to shelter navy convoys during WWII.

Beinn Resipol above Loch Sunart
Beinn Resipol above Loch Sunart

3. BEINN RESIPOL(845m)
possibly 'mountain of the horse farmstead', from the Norse hross bolstadar

Where: Lochaber
Distance:
16km (10 miles)
Time:
5hr 30min
Ascent:
920m
Difficulty: This is a relatively straightforward day out, with one pathless section across open hillside.

It’s the highest peak for miles yet it’s not a Munro. You can take a ferry to it, yet it’s not on an island. You can see Skye, the Small Isles, Mull and Ben Nevis from the top, yet it’s on one of Scotland remotest peninsulas. It’s these very contradictions that make Beinn Resipol so special. Located on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the mainland’s most westerly point, Beinn Resipol commands one of the finest views of the whole west coast.

While you're there: Heading down you follow an old miners’ path into the village of Strontian. Home to lead miners in the 1700s, the village went on to lend its name to the element strontium, which was discovered there in 1790.

Meall a’Bhuachaille
Meall a’Bhuachaille

4. MEALL A'BHUACHAILLE (810m)
'hill of the herdsman' or 'shepherd'

Where: Cairngorms
Distance:
16km (10 miles)
Time:
5hr 30min
Ascent:
750m
Difficulty: Good paths and broad shoulders make this a relatively easy route.

Sitting opposite the Cairngorm plateau, Meall a’Bhuachaille often gets overlooked by walkers but it shouldn’t. Set amidst beautiful Caledonian pine forest, home to red squirrels and pine martens, it’s long, easy ridge offers up several tops, great views and pleasant walking.

While you're there: Look out for fairies as you pass by Lochan Uaine, the green lochan. It is said to have got its stunning colour when Dòmhnall Mòr, King of the fairies, and his kin washed their clothes in it.

The rocky pinnacle that crowns the summit
The rocky pinnacle that crowns the summit

5. THE COBBLER (BEN ARTHUR) (884m)
Originally named after King Arthur, it's peak is called The Cobbler because it looks like a cobbler bent over his work

Where: Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
Distance:
12.5km (7¾ miles)
Time:
4hr 30min
Ascent:
1000m
Difficulty: A clear route on mainly good paths, with a steep rocky section involving some easy scrambling.

The Cobbler, while far from being the tallest of the Arrochar Alps, is easily the most famous. In fact, you could go so far as to say that it’s one of the most recognisable, important and famous hills in Scotland. Home to Scotland’s first-ever climbing club in 1866 it went on to be a haven for Glasgow’s shipyard and factory workers during industrial depression in the 1930s and continues to be a popular escape today.

While you're there: The true summit of The Cobbler’s is distinctive rocky pinnacle perched precariously on the top. A hole in the pinnacle allows those with a head for heights to scramble along an exposed ledge and climb onto the top. The hole was named ‘Argyll’s eyeglass’ after the Duke of Argyll who apparently regularly climbed to this lofty viewpoint.

You'll find all these route in our guide to Walking Scotland's Best Small Mountains, which contains profiles and ascent of 40 mountains, right across Scotland. Each mountain has been carefully selected for its character, views, historical significance, difficulty or simply beauty. The routes vary from short and easy to long and challenging, and are all illustrated with OS mapping.

Scotland's Best Small Mountains - Front Cover

Scotland's Best Small Mountains

40 of the best mountains in Scotland under 3000ft

£16.95

A guidebook to 40 of the best small mountains in Scotland under 3000ft (non-Munros). The best for beauty, views, character, history and location, and all suitable for walkers, the guidebook explores hills in the far north, Torridon, Lochaber, the Great Glen, the Cairngorms, Glencoe, Arrochar, the Trossachs and Skye, Eigg, Mull and Arran.

More information