Top 10 Mountain Ranges in the UK and Ireland

When many people think of the geography of Great Britain, it's likely that they picture the gentle green rolling hills of the English Cotswolds or our mostly flat urban cities such as London. In actual fact, in between the busy towns and cities lie some pretty spectacular hills and a fair few mountainous regions too. We have put together our 10 top mountain regions in Britain and Ireland.

1. Cairngorms
We’ve put the Cairngorms National Park in the number 1 spot as it’s Britain’s most massive and spectacular Mountain range. Boasting incredible native forests, dramatic crystal clean rivers and lochs, plenty of wild Scottish moorland, these beautiful mountains sit in the centre of Scotland and boast some of Britain’s best views. It is also the largest National Park in the UK incorporates many beautiful towns and villages. The local wildlife is extensive and the region plays host to 25% of Britain’s threatened species making it a great place to see wildlife that you’re unlikely to spot anywhere else.

2. Mourne Mountains
Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
The Mourne Mountains are a granite range which form the highest peaks in Northern Ireland. The highest of these is Slieve Donard at 850m. The area has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty and is very popular with hill walkers and nature lovers. The mountains were said to have inspired CS Lewis in the writing of the ‘Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ with much of Narnia based on this mysterious mountain range. The area was most recently used as the backdrop for critically acclaimed movie ‘Philomena’ starring Dame Judi Dench.

3. Black Mountains
Black Mountains, Wales
Based on the Eastern side of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Black Mountain’s take their name from unsurprisingly from the colour of the landscape in the region. Sitting on the border between Wales and Herefordshire in England, the mountains are often confused with the Black Mountain Range which sits on the Westerly side of the Brecon Beacons. To confuse things even more there is a mountain within the range called the Black Mountain!

4. MacGillycuddy's Reeks
MacGillycuddy's Reeks means ‘the black stacks’ and sits in County Kerry, Ireland. The centre of Ireland is pretty much surrounded with mountain ranges but this range contains the highest peaks in Ireland. The highest mountain is Carrauntoohil which is 1038m high. The range is close to the very pretty Killarney National Park.

5. Grampian Mountains
The Grampians occupy a fair proportion of Scotland as one of the 3 major mountain ranges in the country. It is in the region traditionally called the Scottish ‘highlands’ and home to Britain’s 2 highest peaks in that of Ben Nevis and Ben Macdui. Widely regarded as Britain’s most spectacular view, Glen Coe sits within the range close to Ben Nevis and the town of Fort William. The Jacobite Steam Railway is an incredible way to see the range as the ‘Hogwarts Express’ powers along the now famous viaduct with the Grampians forming a majestic backdrop to a magical and unforgettable journey.

6. Berwyn Range
Berwyn Range, Wales
Sitting just east of the Snowdonia National Park, this Welsh range of mountain’s is largely forgotten and overlooked as the peaks sit slightly lower than its famous neighbour. The bonus is that this region of mountains and uplands is wholly unspoilt and perfect for anyone looking to get away from the tourists and walkers who flock to Snowdonia. The mountains top 800m so it’s still a good climb and decent walk for lovers of solitude and beautiful scenery.

7. Snowdonia
Snowdonia National Park sits in north Wales and is probably the most popular region of the country to visit. Mount Snowdon is a challenging climb for competent walkers but a unique railway will take you to the summit if you want the views without the exertion. The Snowdonia region can’t boast the dizzy heights of the Grampian Mountains but with lots of small lakes, steam railways and simply beautiful views, and lots of attractions this well visited region is worth a visit all year round.

8. Lake District
Lake District, North West England
England is packed with National Parks and rolling hills but many of these are too low to be classified as mountains. The Lake District National Park in England’s North West can boast both rolling hills, classic English countryside and villages, England’s largest lake (Windermere) and spectacular mountains surrounding them. Although the main draw of the Lake District is somewhat inevitably the lakes, some of the mountains such as England’s highest; Scafell Pike (978m) provide an incredibly challenging climb and rewarding views for those with the inclination.

9. Cheviot Hills
Cheviot Hills, England
The Cheviot Hills sit on the England and Scotland border just in the north of the Northumberland national Park. The highest hill is the Cheviot itself which sits at a not unspectacular 815m. The southern area borders Kielder Forest and is a great open region for walking, roaming and enjoying the English countryside.

10. Sperrin Mountains
Sperrin Mountains, Northern Ireland
The Sperrin Mountains is one of the largest mountainous regions in Ireland and is a glacial area of upland. The Sperrin's are famous for their purple heather laded slopes which make this an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is largely undiscovered though it has a high population in the urban areas which are incorporated into the Sperrin region.


By Ruth Lancey, GBT Team member

Date: 2017-11-28 13:20:48