The Ridiculous Hills of Britain – An Introduction

With a nod to the blog of old I thought I would kick off this year’s re-boot by heading back to its hillwalking roots. Some of you will be very familiar with the website http://www.hill-bagging.co.uk/ . I have to admit to having spent hours there over the years looking for hills to climb. More recently I noticed classes of hills that I hadn’t been aware of in the past. Some of these classes take account of hills so small I suspect a number of them may only be bumps in the middle of a farmer’s field. There are those who might say this is categorising things to silly extremes. Me, I am not proud and thought it might be a good wheeze to visit a few and produce long winded accounts of their ascent detailing exaggerated (slightly, of course) levels of exhaustion and cliffhanging suspense.

Then that sodding virus appeared.

That, you might think, would have been the end of that. Hmm…not necessarily as I discovered.  Very quickly I realised I had actually been on a few of these minor bumps at various times over the years. Into the maps and the Fatdog photo archive I delved.

Let’s look at my first “Ridiculous Hill of Britain”…

And a very fine example it is. This has to be my favourite – Eilean a’ Chaoil just outside Shieldaig. It is categorised on the hill-bagging.co.uk site as a (0, SIB). As I understand 0 identifies the “hill” as being in the range 0m – 99m with a minimum all round clearance of 30m. That suggests the minimum height a hill can be to qualify for this lowest of categories is 30m. At 32m Eilean a’ Chaoil scrapes in at the very bottom of the range. The acronym SIB however is another kettle of fish entirely. SIB does not stand for “Sad, Insignificant, Bump” (as I first thought) but for “Significant Isle of Britain” (an island with at least 30 hectares of area or a prominence of 30m). Yes! Eilean a’ Chaoil is a bona fide island!

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It’s a monster and possibly the most unusual approach to a hill I have ever encountered.

Myself, J and The Fatdog discovered this massive beast by accident on a little beach stroll on our way home from a trip to the north west in 2010. J stated quite categorically that it was way beyond her level of climbing expertise and opted to man base camp. I suspect her reluctance may also have derived from the fact that the local café was open. FD and I were sorely tested but soldiered on completing the ascent in around two minutes or so. Ridiculous or not, one thing you can’t argue about Eilean a’ Chaoil is that stunning view from its summit!

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It may be small but what a view up Upper Loch Torridon!

Well, that is the end of my very brief introduction to the “Ridiculous Hills of Britain”, I hope you enjoyed it. It would be interesting to hear some views on the extent of hill classification – good or bad. Until next time…stay safe.