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What are the Highest Mountains in the UK?

Updated: Jul 4

The UK is home to spectacular mountains. Hikers and climbers from all over the world come to test their skills on it's mighty peaks.


Infographic of the highest mountains in the UK including where the highest in Scotland, England and Wales rank

There are different ways to classify mountains based on elevation, prominence & isolation. This has resulted in different lists and therefore rankings of the highest mountains. Regardless of the classification used Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK.


What is a mountain in the UK?

Mountains in the UK are defined as an elevated portion of the Earth's crust 600m or more above sea level.


The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) define an "independent peak", as having a prominence of over 30 metres.


Some classifications include isolation.


Infographic explaining how mountains are measured

How many mountains are there in the UK?

Mountains in the UK with a height of 600m or more and a prominence of 30m or more are called 'Simms'. There are 2754 'Simms' on the British Isles.


As of October 2022 only five people had climbed all the 2532 'Simms' of Great Britain.


Highest mountain in England (Scafell Pike), Scotland (Ben Nevis) & Wales (Snowdon)

Highest mountain in each UK nation

Many people falsely believe the National Three Peaks are the three highest peaks in the UK. They are in fact, the highest point in Scotland, England and Wales.


A popular 'challenge' is to complete all three peaks in under 24 hours.


The highest mountain in...

  • England is Scafell Pike - 978m

  • Wales is Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) - 1085m

  • Scotland is Ben Nevis - 1345m

  • Northern Ireland is - Slieve Donard - 850m



Ben Nevis, Ben Macdui, Braeriach and Cairn Toul are the four highest mountains in the UK

The tallest mountains in the UK

The following is a list of the highest 'Simms' of the British Isles (mountains with at least 600m of height and 30m of prominence) ...

1

Ben Nevis

Scotland

1345m

2

Ben Macdui

Scotland

1309m

3

Braeriach

Scotland

1296m

4

Cairn Toul

Scotland

1291m

5

Carn na Criche 

Scotland

1265m

6

Sgor an Lochain Uaine

Scotland

1258m

7

Cairn Gorm

Scotland

1245 m

8

Aonach Beag

Scotland

1234m

9

Aonach Mor

Scotland

1221m

10

Carn Dearg (NW)

Scotland

1221m

76

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)

Wales

1085m

257

Scafell Pike

England

978m

767

Slieve Donard

Northern Ireland

850m



Highest 'Majors' in the UK

The mountains and hills of the British Isles are categorised into various lists based on different combinations of: elevation, prominence, and other criteria such as isolation.


This has lead to several different lists of mountains and therefore rankings of the highest mountains in the UK.


Infographic of mountains with a height and prominence of 600m or more

Mountains with both a height and prominence of 600m or more are called 'Majors'. There are 94 'Majors' in the UK with 82 in Scotland, four in England, seven in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. The following is a list of the highest Majors in the UK:

1

Ben Nevis

Scotland

1345m

2

Ben Macdui

Scotland

1309m

3

Ben Lawers

Scotland

1214m

4

Càrn Eige

Scotland

1183m

5

Ben More

Scotland

1174m

6

Lochnagar

Scotland

1156m

7

Sgùrr na Lapaich

Scotland

1151m

8

Bidean nam Bian

Scotland

1149m

9

Ben Alder

Scotland

1148m

10

Ben Lui

Scotland

1130m

19

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)

Wales

1085m

45

Scafell Pike

England

978m

76

Slieve Donard

Northern Ireland

850m



Other classifications of mountains

Additional classifications of mountains include: Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds, Hewitts, Nuttalls, Wainwrights, Marilyn's and Munro's.


Photo of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK taken from Carn Dearg, the tenth tallest

The Munro's

The oldest list of mountains in the UK is the Munro's which was created in 1891.


The Munro's are defined as a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 feet (914.4 m), and which is on the Scottish Mountaineering Club official list of Munros. There is no explicit prominence requirement. There are 282 Munro's.


Sunset on Scafell Pike, the biggest mountain in England

Highest mountains in England

The highest mountains in England all exist in the Lake District National Park. They are:


  1. Scafell Pike - 978m

  2. Helvellyn - 950m

  3. Skiddaw - 931m

  4. Great Gable - 899m

  5. Cross Fell - 893m

  6. Pillar - 892m

  7. Fairfield - 873m

  8. Blencathra - 868m

  9. Grasmoor - 852m

  10. St Sunday Crag - 841m


Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) & Garnedd Ugain ( Crib-y-Ddysgl), the two highest mountains in Wales

Highest mountains in Wales

All of the highest mountains in Wales are found in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.


There are 15 mountains above 3000ft in Wales and they are linked together by the Welsh 3000's mountain track.


The biggest mountains in Wales are:


  1. Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) - 1085m

  2. Garnedd Ugain - 1065m

  3. Carnedd Llewelyn - 1064m

  4. Carnedd Dafydd - 1044m

  5. Glyder Fawr - 1001m

  6. Glyder Fach - 994m

  7. Pen yr Ole Wen - 978m

  8. Foel Grach - 976m

  9. Yr Elen - 962m

  10. Y Garn - 947m


Other Notable Mountain Ranges

The Scottish Highlands, home to Ben Nevis and the Grampian Mountains is home to all of the biggest mountains in the UK.


Many of the tallest mountains exist in the Cairngorms National Park.


The Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, The Peak District, England, the Lake District and the mountains of Snowdonia, including Snowdon, are all notable mountain ranges in the UK.


Hardest mountains to climb in UK

Climbing mountains used to be all about size! In 1953 all of that changed when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. From this moment on mountaineering shifted focus from the tallest to the hardest.


Climbers started focusing on difficulty, style and speed. Instead of merely getting to the top by any means possible climbing developed into getting to the top in the most difficult, purest or fastest way.


There is no definitive list of the hardest mountains in the UK. Climbing Snowdon via the Indian Face would certainly make it one of the hardest mountains in the world. Alternatively, taking the Llanberis Path up the same mountain makes it easy.


Conclusion

There are different classifications of mountains resulting in different lists and therefore different rankings of the highest. The most widely accepted classification is the Simms. Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK.


Book a guided walk up any mountain in the UK with Walk Snowdonia

Here at Walk Snowdonia we offer guided mountain walks up any mountain in the UK


Learn the skills you need to climb any mountain in the UK on our Mountain Navigation Course



Summary of the Highest Mountains

The UK is home to many impressive mountain ranges and peaks. From Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike, each nation has its own highest mountain.


Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the UK’s mountains have something to offer.


Consider taking on the National Three Peaks challenge, which involves hiking the highest mountains in Scotland, England, and Wales, the Wainwrights or the Welsh 3000's to explore some of the best and biggest mountains.


FAQ's

Is Snowdon the 2nd highest mountain in the UK?

No, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) is the highest mountain in Wales. Snowdon is generally regarded as the 76th highest mountain in the UK.


What is the most beautiful mountain in the UK?

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) is often regarded as the most beautiful mountain in the UK due to it's spectacular views, beautiful lakes and rugged and rocky appearance.


What is the smallest mountain in the UK?

Reaching just above 600m, Black Combe in England is the smallest mountain in the UK.


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