The 5 Most Beautiful Mountains in Scotland
I'm not a hill-walker myself so in order for a Scottish mountain to make a lasting impression on me, the view of it is as important as the view from its summit looking down. It should not come as a surprise that my favorite 5 mountains in Scotland are all located in the North West Highlands. This area of Scotland has some of the most dramatic mountain landscape in Britain.
It may come as a surprise to some people, however, that Ben Nevis is not included in my list of favorite Scottish mountains. While it is Scotland's (and Britain's) highest mountain and offers a wide range of activities, I personally don't think Ben Nevis comes close to some of the other spectacular peaks further North and West.
My Favorite Five Scottish Mountains
It's difficult listing just one mountain at a time because when you look at the Scottish Highlands, it's not a single peak that makes you go 'Awww' but a whole range of peaks, often as far as the eye can see.
1. Liathach & Beinn Alligin
There is no doubt in my mind that these two Torridon mountains are the most spectacular in Scotland. Liathach and Beinn Alligin consist of Torridonian Sandstone, reputed to be 3 BILLION years old (and the oldest in Europe).
For regular tourists, Liathach is the more accessible of the two mountains, with great views from the south shore of Upper Loch Torridon and the east banks of Loch Clair (located along the road between Kinlochewe and Torridon). Looking across Loch Torridon, you obviously notice how massive Liathach is, but then the impression of scale really becomes apparent when you notice the tiny Torridon village shadowed by it.
Beinn Alligin, unfortunately for non-hill walkers, is best seen from high up on one of its peaks or from a helicopter. Only then can you see the highly tiered appearance of the steep slopes leading from the ridge that makes this mountain so formidable. There are, however, great views of Beinn Alligin from across Loch Torridon and from Gairloch.
|More photos of the Torridon Mountains|
2. Marsco & Glamaig
The decision to pick the Red Cuillins over the Black Cuillins was not an easy one. Jagged peaks are common in parts of Scotland and a common sight for Europeans familiar with the Alps or the Carpathians. But smooth, gentle yet high hills that keep on rolling down into the glen and loch below is a sight only Scotland can give you. Add to this the unusual red hue Marsco and Glamaig get at sunrise or sunset and you have yourself the perfect Skye landscape.
Glamaig is massive. This cone-shaped mountain first becomes visible as you pass Broadford towards Portree. Its scale becomes more obvious as you approach Loch Ainort. I can distinctly remember the lone, tiny houses on the banks of this loch with Glamaig rising high behind it, with its summit shrouded in low cloud. Simply fantastic!
|More photos of the Red Cuillins on Skye|
Suilven is located in Assynt, the Northwest Highlands, an area as beautiful as it is desolate and inhospitable. What's remarkable about Suilven is its ability to change shape from different directions.
From the west, it appears like a large rounded pillar while from the east, it appears more like a narrow pyramid. From the south and north, however, Suilven looks more of an impregnable wall than a mountain.
What I like most about Suilven is how it rises almost vertically to dominate the flat, wild landscape of moorland, bogs and lochans. Just like Liathach and Beinn Alligin, Suilven is formed of ancient Torridonian sandstone. You can see its distinctive shape from miles and miles.
|More photos of Suilven, Assynt|
4. Buachaille Etive Mor & Buachaille Etive Beag
There are few mountains in Scotland as recognizable as Buachaille Etive Mor. Photographers love it as you'll no doubt find out from the mind-boggling number of postcard-perfect pictures of it.
It's the near perfect pyramidal shape (as seen from the A82 road when travelling towards Glencoe) of Buachaille Etive Mor that makes it special, as well as the fact that it appears to guard the entrance to one of Scotland's most famous glens -- Glen Coe. To get a good impression of The Buachaille, as it is called, you have to take the single-track road to Black Rock Cottage to the left from the A82.
Buachaille Etive Beag is the mountain's smaller sister ('beag' being the Scottish word for small). The two Buachaille mountains sit at the head of another spectacular Glen, Glen Etive and are best seen on the journey back from the head of Loch Etive. Split in the middle by River Coupall, Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag are both located in a part of Scotland that should not be missed.
|More photos of the Buachailles|
5. Beinn Dorain
Beinn Dorain is a cone-shaped mountain which sits some 23 miles south of Glencoe. It's a familiar sight to travellers approaching Bridge of Orchy from Tyndrum along the West Highland Way, the A82 or by rail.
What I like most about Beinn Dorain is its setting. It is one of the two hills with rolling moorland slopes on either side of one of my favorite valleys: Glenn Auch. What has left a lasting impression on me was the tiny, human-built viaduct and railway contrasting with this massive hill rising proudly behind it.
For visitors travelling from the South, Beinn Dorain is the first introduction to what the Scottish Highlands have to offer. From here, all the way to Northwest Scotland, it just gets better and better, one spectacular mountain and valley after another.
|More photos of Ben Dorain|