The approach to building lists of peaks on this website assumes that some knowledge exists of terms such as prominence. Some readers may be familiar with these terms, while others may not. Additionally, Jim Bloomer & Roddy Urquhart have come up with a shorthand way of describing peaks given in the glossary below.
This section of the website includes the following:
An explanation of the notion of prominence
The flooded island analogy as a model for understanding prominence
A description of the hierarchical nature of prominence
A quick glossary of terms
The following terms are used frequently on this website:
Bloomer s Challenge is the term given for all the UK peaks with a minimum prominence of 500 metres. More
Dominance is a topographic term which is the prominence of a peak divided by its height. The dominance peak on an island has dominance 100% More
Height is the height of a summit above sea level
H500 is a group of peaks with height of 500-749 metres
H750 is a group of peaks with height of 750-999 metres
H1000 is a group of peaks with height of 1000 metres or greater
Key col is the lowest col connecting a peak and its prominence parent. More
Prominence is a topographic term to indicate the distinctiveness of a peak with respect to its environment. More
Prominence hierarchy is the hierarchy of a set of peaks based on prominence. More
P100 is a group of peaks with prominence of 100-199 metres
P200 is a group of peaks with prominence of 200-499 metres
P500 is a group of peaks with prominence of 500-999 metres
P1000 is a group of peaks with prominence of 1000-1999 metres
P500+ is a group of peaks with prominence of at least 500 metres. This is synonymous with the P500 plus P1000 peaks for the UK. It is also the same as Bloomer s challenge. More
UK prominent peak is the term given for all the UK peaks with a minimum prominence of 100 metres and a minimum height of 500 metres.
Sitting at the top of the list is Cornwall, one of the most beautiful places in the country, rural and coastal settings a plenty and a friendly atmosphere. Cornwall forms a peninsula with wild moorlands and many sandy beaches. The south coast of Cornwall is dubbed the Cornish riviera due to the climate and picturesque landscapes. Cornwall has a host of picturesque villages and seaside resorts
A small yet humble town in the borough of Wigan has made it onto our list due to the small population, low pollution and lack of traffic jams. The village has a population of less than 14,000 people making it a perfect place to settle.
3.The Lake District
One of the most beautiful places in the UK, it was always going to make it onto the list. A favourite for nationals and tourists the lake district is a region of Cumbria in the northwest of England. With a low pollution level and beautiful market towns such as Keswick, Kendal, Ambleside and Derwentwater. The lake district is a wonderful place to visit and live.
Wales made it on to the list due to the low levels of pollution and traffic free roads (mostly). Wales is a well known part of southwest Great Britain. With rugged coastlines and famous mountains located there. The celtic culture and welsh language is a draw for tourism.
5. Scottish Highlands
Home to famous loch Ness and many other famous attractions the Scottish Highland is a wonderful place to move to and relax, benefit from rural locations and lower house prices you can pick up a lot of real estate for a lower cost.
As you can tell the most relaxing places to live in the UK appear to be more rural locations, this goes to show that city life really does have an impact on our health and ability to de-stress. Not everyone will be able to move to the locations or may not even want to but a short visit to a rural location is proven to reduce stress and help relax. If you live in a busy area it can be a great way to relax with a rural weekend away.
Hillwalking has grown massively in the UK over the last 150 years. The first mountaineering clubs were founded in the late 19th century, such as the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1889. One of the founder members, Sir Hugh Munro, sought to list the most significant mountains in Scotland those over 3000 ft. His work was pioneering because his list included 283 “separate mountains” while previously it was thought that there were only 30.Sir Hugh also perhaps unintentionally set two further trends. Firstly, he triggered the “hillbagging” hobby where hillwalkers aim to complete a list. Secondly, there were some issues with his list that led to the creation of many further lists during the 20th Century. As well as detailing the 283 “separate mountains”, Sir Hugh also identified a further 255 summits which, together with their parent, made a total of 538 ‘Tops’. These less important summits were listed beneath their parent in the text.
Another important development for hillwalkers was the various improvements that were made to Ordnance Survey maps during the 20th Century. The kilometre grid, providing a national system of grid references, was introduced in the 1940s. In the 1970s, more accurate surveys were carried out and contours and spot heights were recorded in metres rather than feet. Principal contours are at 50 m intervals and finer ones at 10 m intervals.
Today, there are a wide range of lists with differing advantages and disadvantages. The big “elephant in the room” is that the height and prominence criteria for most of these lists are based directly on feet or indirectly around the conversion of 50 feet to 15 metres. Most UK hillwalkers now use maps that are based on contours at 10 metre intervals; the most common being the Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50 000 maps.
Other issues exist, such as the geographic fragmentation of the lists and the fragmentation of height and prominence criteria that are used to define the lists.
Some lists also suffer from weak prominence criteria. This can lead to a list with a mixture of demanding summits alongside others requiring little (vertical) effort. This is fine when the relative status is made clear (as for the Munros with “separate mountains” and “Tops”) but where this is not done it can leave an important peak undifferentiated from its unimportant and undemanding subsidiary summits.
In conclusion, there is a fine history of hillwalking lists in the UK. Following any list will have its merits and involve good exercise and good views. However, many historic lists have deficiencies. There is a real need for a new generation of lists with the following characteristics:
Metric based height and prominence criteria to match modern maps Demanding and differentiated prominence criteria. A consistent set of relevant criteria applied uniformly to all ranges in the UK
This website provides a novel, modern approach to classifying the UK’s peaks that is the basis for a new generation of lists for hillwalkers. Included on the site are:
A new approach to classifying peaks based on prominence and height
A database containing information on the UK’s 1564 Prominent Peaks
A new hill list – Bloomer’s Challenge, which contains the UK’s 158 most prominent peaks
Downloadable resources for hillwalkers
Lots of supporting material
21st Century Peaks Classification
The UK has a rich history of listing hills, starting with the pioneering work of Sir Hugh Munro in the 1891. His list covered summits of 3000 feet and higher but only in Scotland; this restricted the list to the Highlands, Skye and Mull. Subsequent lists covered the hills of England, Wales and Ireland as well as Southern Scotland and the Islands. These lists aimed to fill gaps left by Munros Tables, by either covering different height intervals or being outside Scotland. The end result is that lists are disjointed and there was no overall way of classifying hills in the UK.
The Relative Hills of Britain or Marilyns was the first GB-wide hill list with consistent criteria but includes lower summits that many would not expect to be included in a list of hills. It is also too large a list to be attempted by most walkers, with over 1500 hills. Another key issue is that since the early 1970s Ordnance Survey maps have been surveyed in metres and contours are at 10 metre intervals with major contours every 50 m (see photo above). Most older lists are based on criteria in feet and therefore do not match modern maps.
Hillwalkers Jim Bloomer and Roddy Urquhart – two UK Metric Association (UKMA) members have been convinced that there is a need for a new generation of lists with the following characteristics:
UK-wide coverage including all major areas
Demanding prominence criterion so that significant peaks are prioritised
Compatible with modern metric maps
Focus on peaks above 500m
Jim has built on the work of earlier lists and databases and created the UK Prominent Peaks database. The whole database contains 1564 peaks in the UK and Isle of Man but Jim & Roddy have defined four prominence groups using the 1-2-5 Principle and three height groups, which mean that subsets of the database can be used to create hill lists of a manageable size.
The authors believe that this approach is very much in the spirit of Sir Hugh Munro’s original work because it is based on best available maps and recognises that there are different types of summit. Sir Hugh identified two types of peak, while the UKPP project goes further and classifies into four main groups of peaks.
For hillwalkers who want to create their own challenge, the UKPP database can be customised to create a bespoke challenge. This may be tailored to be as big or as small or as localised as required.
A new hillwalking challenge – Bloomer’s Challenge, which is based on the database, is described. Bloomers Challenge covers the 158 peaks with a prominence of 500 metres or greater (P500+). This includes peaks in all the UKs upland areas and offers a huge variety of bens, carns, carnedds, fells, hills, mountains, slieves and sgurrs. Apart from people living in South East England or East Anglia, most people in the UK will not live far from a peak on the list.
To illustrate deriving a custom list from the database an example is provided. The UK Thousanders is a list of all the UK summits with a height of 1000 metres or more combined with a prominence of 100 metres or more. This list comprises peaks mainly in the Scottish Highlands.
The lists and database can be downloaded in Excel format and have a rich set of supporting resources. The lists are supported by links to map websites including Get-a-Map and Streetmap. Also local area and wide area maps can be viewed using Google Maps or Google Earth.
Using this web site
The website has been designed to accommodate a wide range of interest levels. For a hillwalker who is simply looking for a new challenge across the UK, it is suggested going straight to the Bloomer’s Challenge section. For an individual wishing to create a bespoke challenge then it would make more sense to go to UK Prominent Peaks database
For a hillwalker who is familiar with historic lists and who wants to see how previous ascents fit with the new lists, the UK Prominent Peaks database can be used to track progress. Modifying the database to create a bespoke challenge is described.
Some people are very interested in how lists are created and will want a more detailed account of how the UK Prominent Peaks are defined. Such website visitors will find almost all sections of the site interesting, including definitions and the principles of peak classification.
The most important contribution to any hill list is the mapping on which it is based. In the UK this is the result of the work of The Ordnance Survey and The Land and Property Services Northern Ireland (which in 2020 subsumed the former Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland).
The study of the maps follows. Frequently it is necessary to examine mapping at a 1:10 000 scale, to determine if any spot heights are indeed at the key. Where no precise heights are given, the site may need to be visited, altimeter readings taken and the hill’s prominence estimated.
Data must be compiled and in this regard the authors are indebted to Alan Dawson and Rob Woodall for their Excel workbooks on general data and identification of Prominence Parents.
Some 83% of the Prominent Peaks appear in Chris Crocker and Graham Jackson s Database of British Hills. This data has been used for grid references and summit heights. Tony Hartry supplied 1:25 000 OS map numbers.
Simon Edwardes hill-bagging website was a source of inspiration and Tony Wright of Saska Systems produced Latitude/Longtitude conversions together with the files to drive the Google Map overlay.
Thanks to Michael Dewey for permission to quote his narrative on the History of Mountain Tables, to Pete Black, Tim Bloomer, Cate Davies and David Kime for photographs and to Carl Emery and Liz Bloomer for general advice and proof reading.
Special thanks are due to Phil Hall, UKMA webmaster, who successfully implemented the Prominent Peaks website based on ideas from Jim and Roddy.
TACit Tables Series Editor Dave Hewitt
The Hewitts and Marilyns of Wales, Alan Dawson ISBN 0 9522680 6 X
The Hewitts and Marilyns of England, Alan Dawson ISBN 0 9522680 7 8
The Hewitts and Marilyns of Ireland, Clem Clements ISBN 0 9522680 8 6
The Grahams and New Donalds (2nd Edition), Alan Dawson &
Dave Hewitt ISBN 0 9534376 0 4
Corbett Tops and Corbeteers, Alan Dawson &
Dave Hewitt ISBN 0 9534376 1 2
Graham Tops and Grahamists, Alan Dawson, Clem Clements &
James Gordon ISBN 0 9534376 2 0
The Relative Hills of Britain, Alan Dawson. Cicerone Press ISBN 1 85284 068 4
Mountain Tables, Michael Dewey. Constable ISBN 0 09 474520 X
Munros Tables, Edited by Derek Bearhop. Scottish Mountaineering Trust ISBN 0 907521 53 3
Handbook of the Scottish Hills, E J Yeaman. Wafaida ISBN 0 9514324 0 0
Scottish Mountaineering Club District and Hillwalker s Guides
The Cairngorms, Sir Henry Alexander (revised by Dr Adam Watson) 1968
The Northern Highlands, Thomas Strang. SBN 901516 42 2
The Island of Skye, Malcolm Slesser. SBN 901516 26 0
The Central Highlands, Campbell R. Steven. (revised 1972)
The Southern Highlands, Donald Bennet. SBN 901516 64 3
The Western Highlands, G. Scott Johnstone SBN 901516 66 X
The Islands of Scotland including Skye, Fabian Little & Williams ISBN 0 907521 23 1
The Southern Uplands, K M Andrew. ISBN 0 907521 38 X
North-West Highlands, Broadhead Keith & Maden. ISBN 0 907521 81 9
It is natural to want to classify peaks into tables. A table needs to be based on a method of classifying peaks by geographic location and size. It also needs to provide information that is clear and useful to the user. But what makes a good classification?
Is the second highest mountain in the world K2 or Everest s South Summit? There is no doubt that the highest summit in the world is Everest at a height of 8848 metres. The South Summit of Everest is 8749 metres and higher than K2 at 8611 m, yet nobody would seriously suggest that the South Summit is the second highest mountain in the world.
Why is this?
Well, the South Summit is a mere bump on Everest s summit ridge standing out by a mere 10 metres (a P10 summit!). In contrast, K2 has a prominence of 4017 metres and is therefore an outstanding and important summit (a P2000). The whole point is that summit height alone does not define the significance of a peak. The whole context, that is whether a summit is indeed a mere bump or the dominant peak of an area, is hugely important. This means that a combination of prominence and height is a key criterion for classifying peaks.
Absolute height and prominence alone is not sufficient to describe the context. Clearly the scale of a range of mountains or hills needs to play a role. In the European Alps, a height requirement of say 500 metres is not appropriate; the Bavarian plateau is already at that level or higher. On the other hand, for the Bavarian Alps a prominence requirement of 500 m and a minimum height criterion of say 1000 m or more would result in a reasonable peak list. However, this would not be a sufficiently stringent criterion for a compact list of Alpine summits. There a height criterion of at least 2000 m and prominence criterion of 500 m or even 1000 m would make more sense.
For the Himalayas, a height criterion of 2000 metres would be quite insufficient. A height criterion of at least 5000 m and prominence of 1000 m (or even 2000 m) would produce a coherent list.
Clearly there is a need to match height and prominence criteria to the scale of a range. For height it is necessary to choose criteria that reflect nearby plateau areas and typical elevations.
The UK and Ireland are a family of islands, so the issue of plateau areas does not arise. The authors have concluded that good criteria for the UK are a minimum height of 500 metres and prominence of 100 metres. This is the basis for the UK Prominent Peaks database.
Lists of peaks and how to approach everything
It is possible to apply the same thinking to peak classification by prominence, regardless of whether you are focussed on the Himalaya or the English Cotswolds. Summits may be classified into geometrically growing groups. Having groups with sensible prominence thresholds can be achieved by the 1-2-5 principle.
To apply these principles to creating lists of peaks, accurate data relating to height of peaks and their key cols (and other cols so that the key col can be confirmed) is needed. Geographic boundaries for a list also need to be determined. It is necessary to decide on how many levels of prominence categories will be included and the type of height qualification. This determines how long the list will be. Is it to be a database of information or a more compact listing of important peaks? Both approaches have merit and may indeed be complementary.
There is a fine history of hillwalking lists from Sir Hugh Munro onward. However, there is a need for a new generation of lists that achieve the following:
Metric based height and prominence criteria to match modern maps
Demanding and differentiated prominence criteria.
A consistent set of relevant criteria applied uniformly to all ranges in the UK
The UK Prominent Peak (UKPP) database aims to provide a foundation for a new generation of hillwalking lists. This database has been developed by our team and members of the UK Metric Association. This builds on Ordnance Survey data and the work of others.
The underlying principle of the database is to have demanding criteria for peaks that are listed. Some historic lists are undemanding in either minimum prominence or height.
The UKPP database requires that peaks have a minimum prominence of 100 metres and a minimum height of 500 metres. This avoids relatively insignificant sub-summits and smaller hills that do not merit inclusion.
A key innovation of Sir Hugh Munro’s tables was that he recognised that there was a hierarchy of peaks. There are distinct “separate mountains” (Munros) and subsidiary “tops”. However, he never documented how he distinguished between the two.
The UK Prominent Peaks are classified according to the 1-2-5 Principle into four categories. This is in the spirit of Sir Hugh’s hierarchy but with four rather than two levels.
Different historic lists have often been separated by varied height criteria. The UK Prominent Peaks have a height classification too but within one consistent framework.
Foundation for Hillwalking Lists
UKPP s database of 1564 peaks is too extensive to be a hillwalking list but it is a key foundation for developing a variety of lists.
The Bloomer’s Challenge is a new generation hillwalking challenge. It offers the following benefits:
UK-wide challenge covers all major ranges
Demanding prominence criterion means significant peaks are included
Manageable size with 158 peaks
However, other hillwalking lists can be created from the database to meet individual or local requirements. As an example, the authors have created a “UK Thousander” list.
A Resource for Hillwalkers
This website provides a range of resources for hillwalkers. The database itself is available as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet and documentation is provided on how to use it. A range of online maps is available for database users.
What about the Republic of Ireland?
Today the database only includes data from the UK and Isle of Man. Some historic lists have covered the whole of Ireland and including data from the Republic of Ireland would clearly be valuable. The scale of the mountains there is very similar to the UK and so the same prominence and height criteria would be relevant.
Bloomer’s Challenge is a brand new hillwalking challenge based on the UK Prominent Peaks database. As such it has the characteristics of:
An excellent list for people new to hillwalking
A consistent approach applied to the whole of the UK
Demanding prominence criteria meaning distinct peaks and good views
Metric based height and prominence criteria to match modern maps
An increasing number of mountaineers and hill walkers are prioritising hills by prominence. This phenomenon has had its greatest impact in North America but is now moving to Europe and elsewhere.
Many hill lists have less demanding prominence criteria with a stronger focus on height criteria. Bloomer’s Challenge is based on the very demanding prominence criterion of 500 metres. This means that every peak in the challenge will be the major one for a particular area of high ground. Every peak in the list will be topographically distinct from neighbouring members of the list and is therefore likely to be a very good viewpoint.
The famed Munro list misses some of the more interesting hills of the Scottish Islands, Southern Uplands and parts of the Northern Highlands (not to speak of ignoring England, Wales and Northern Ireland) because of its 3000 ft height criterion. Bloomer’s Challenge has no demanding height criterion and therefore includes Prominent Peaks over a wider area of the UK. Summit heights range from Trostan (550 m) in the Antrim Hills to Ben Nevis (1344 m) in Lochaber. Bloomer’s Challenge is made up of the 158 most Prominent Peaks in the UK, which have a prominence of 500 m or more. These hills come from 2 Prominence Group categories. Ben Nevis, Carn Eige and Snowdon are P1000s (with a prominence over 1000 m) and the remaining 155 hills are P500s. Some 133 of the P500s are on the GB mainland and can be considered to be descendants of the 3 P1000s. Four Northern Irish hills are descendants of the P1000 Carrauntoohil in the Irish Republic, which is not included in a UK list of hills.
If you attempt Bloomer’s Challenge, you will achieve tremendous coverage of the UK’s hills (from Devon to Sutherland and Fermanagh to Northumberland) and will have visited the highest point of every landmass over 500 m. Whilst you will not have visited all the highest summits, you will have generally climbed the hills with the most extensive views.
Bloomer’s Challenge hill list is available as a downloadable Excel workbook as part of a set of hillwalking resources available on this site. This workbook can be used to track your progress with the list.