The 12 Peaks of Christmas
Throughout the 12 days of Christmas, join Grangers on our Instagram page (@grangersofficial) as we celebrate 12 of Great Britain's most captivating peaks. Visit our profile to vote for your favourite peak! Below, we’ve delved a little deeper, listing interesting facts and legends surrounding these magnificent mountains.
Originally called ‘Beinn Nibheis’, Gaelic for ‘Venomous Mountain’, Ben Nevis is the UK’s highest peak at 4413 ft. Before becoming one of Scotland’s favourite landmarks, it was an active volcano that collapsed in on itself millions of years ago, causing an explosion with similar strength to Krakatoa. With time, glacial activity has shaped the mountain, creating the iconic peak that we all know today. Do you dare climb Scotland’s venomous mountain?
One of the most popular fells in the Lake District, it is believed that Catbells’ curious name is derived from ‘Cat Bields’, meaning shelter of the wildcat. Popular 20th-century children's author Beatrix Potter lived in the Lake District and used the Eastern slopes of Catbells as the home for one of her most popular characters, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.
Sat on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, on a clear day Ben Lomond’s summit can be seen from Ben Nevis – despite being over 64km away! The highest parts of the fell host an alpine tundra ecozone, home to species including the peregrine falcon and the golden eagle.
This 4252 ft Scottish mountain, found in the Highlands, has a crescent-shaped summit and is home to some of the longest-lying snow patches in the UK. It is the third tallest mountain in the British Isles.
The Morne Mountains are a granite mountain range located in County Down, Northern Ireland. Slieve Donard (2790 ft), the tallest of the mountains, is the highest point in Northern Ireland.
Sgùrr a’ Mhaoraich
This Scottish mountain’s summit is ribbed and crimped, resembling a shell. Some suspect the name is derived from the Gaelic for shellfish (‘maorach’). The peak itself seems a bit two-sided: its Southern face appears grassy and gentle whilst the Northern face is steep with deep ridges and rocky flanks. Which side will you choose?
Once voted the UK’s favourite mountain, this Snowdonian peak is steeped in legend. Not only is the mountain suspected to be the final resting place of Sir Belvedere from Arthurian legend, but it’s also famous for two twin monoliths at the summit called Siôn a Siân (Adam and Eve in English), it is said that leaping between the two monoliths can offer the ‘Freedom of Tryfan’. However, when attempted in poor weather, the jump can be dangerous, so be careful!
Cadair Idris, or ‘The Chair of Idris’, is a famous Welsh mountain in Snowdonia National Park. The summit is known as Penygader, or ‘top of the chair’. According to Welsh legend, Idris was said to be a prince who fought an Irish army on the mountain and won. Three prominent trials lead to Penygader: Pony Path, Fox’s Path and Minffordd Path.
Old Man of Coniston
A fan-favourite fell found in the Lake District, the Old Man of Coniston stands at 2623.6 ft. Subject to over 800 years of copper and slate mining, the North-East slopes have been shaped by abandoned mines. The peak is home to flocks of grazing sheep and, due to the popularity of the climb, these locals are rather tame but aren’t afraid to riffle through unguarded bags looking for food!
Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain in England, set against the beautiful Lake District National Park. With an elevation of 3209 ft, the peak is owned and maintained by the National Trust and, according to their stats from 2014, over 100,000 people climb Scafell Pike per year. The name Scafell seems to have been derived from Old Norse (skalli fjall), possibly meaning ‘The Fell with the Bald Summit’.
A panoramic view awaits you at the top of this Cumbrian mountain. From the summit, also known as High Man, the Pennines, Yorkshire Dales, Coniston Fells, Snowdonia and the Isle of Man can be spotted on a clear day. Even the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland can be glimpsed on exceptionally clear days, an astounding 169km away. The sights are definitely worth the climb!
Pen y Fan
Situated in Brecon Beacons National Park, Pen y Fan is used as an endurance test by the military in selecting recruits for the Special Forces. A 24km trek through the mountains – whilst carrying an 18kg backpack and a rifle – is part of the initial fitness and navigation test. Who dares wins!
Which of these peaks have you got planned on your 2024 peak list? Tag us on Instagram using #withgrangersyoucan