10 Mini Mountains That Pack a Punch

© Al Todd

In hillgoing circles it's a truism that biggest isn't necessarily best - and if you needed any convincing, here are ten good reasons why not. Only one of the following even reaches 500 metres, but for sheer presence these pint sized upstarts easily outshine most hills twice their height. More than just scenic viewpoints with a nice outlook on taller neighbours, these mini mountains really look and feel the part in their own right too.

Dun Caan - 444m

It's not high, but the view is enormous  © Dan Bailey
It's not high, but the view is enormous
© Dan Bailey

High point of the rugged Isle of Raasay (and no, that's not saying much), little Dun Caan is a charismatic craggy character, with an unusual sawn-off summit that serves as a landmark from miles around. Surrounded by sea, with Skye on one side and Applecross to the other, the panorama is disproportionately huge for a summit elevation this modest.

Sgurr na Stri - 494m

Beat that...  © Dan Bailey
Beat that...
© Dan Bailey

Rising steep and rocky straight out of the sea, Sgurr na Stri dominates the head of Loch Scavaig. Tiny it may be, but its strategic position above the outlow of Loch Coruisk gives it an unrivalled perspective on the whole crazy arc of the Cuillin ridge. This is probably the most spectacular summit view in Scotland! Whether you're planning a Cuillin traverse, or reminiscing about one, it's an amazing place to just sit and stare. For best results come by boat - weather depending, there's a seasonal service from Elgol.

An Sgurr - 393m

An Sgurr, Eigg  © Al Todd
An Sgurr, Eigg
© Al Todd, Jul 2014

Lording it over the tiny Isle of Eigg, this striking volcanic inselberg (island mountain) looks quite unlike anything else in the UK. Very few full-sized mountain summits are anywhere near this imposing. Only climbers will want to venture near the 100m cliffs, but despite its impregnable appearance when seen from the east, the walker's ascent is surprisingly achievable.

Ben A'an - 454m

Some people just don't know how to take their hills seriously  © Dan Bailey
Some people just don't know how to take their hills seriously
© Dan Bailey

It's pretty much the smallest thing in the Trossachs, but by a lucky quirk of geology Ben A'an also happens to boast by far the craggiest profile, a steep cone rising over the woods above Loch Katrine. With a scrambly summit block and a great view down the length of the loch to the lumpy skyline of the southern Highlands proper, it easily repays the short-but-steep uphill grunt from the road.

Roseberry Topping - 320m

Sometimes, with tongue in cheek, referred to as the Cleveland Matterhorn, this distinctive conical hill is a much-loved landmark with wide edge-of-the-plain views. Made of soft Jurassic sandstone, Roseberry Topping owes its shape to the combination of a geological fault and an early 20th Century mine collapse. Though the impressive crags are a bit of an acquired taste for climbers, the summit is a justifiably popular objective for walkers.

Helm Crag - 405m

Helm crag emerging from early morning mist.  This was a magical morning after two weeks of solid lakes rain!  © r_o_b_h2
Helm crag emerging from early morning mist. This was a magical morning after two weeks of solid lakes rain!
© r_o_b_h2, Nov 2012

Above the ever-touristy village of Grasmere, and well seen from the Dunmail road, the steep craggy peak of Helm Crag does a good impression of a mountain far larger than its diminutive 400-odd metres might suggest. Crowning glory is the famous Howitzer, an improbable tilted rock that forms the fell's true high point. Reaching the top involves a short but interesting grade 1/2 scramble, while the only way off is back down the way you came; it's a manoeuvre that makes Helm Crag a perfect pocket challenge.

Chrome Hill (425m) & Parkhouse Hill (360m)

Sunrise over Parkhouse Hill from summit of Chrome Hill.  © Jonathan Bean
Sunrise over Parkhouse Hill from summit of Chrome Hill.
© Jonathan Bean, Feb 2019

Small in stature but big in impact, these two neighbouring limestone ridges - the remains of a coral atoll from an era when this part of England was under a tropical sea - Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill are today among the few genuinely peak-like summits in the Peak District. On Parkhouse Hill there's even a bit of scrambling if you stick to the narrow crest...

Yr Eifl - 561m

Sunset over Yr Eifl  © mr mills
Sunset over Yr Eifl
© mr mills, Jan 2014

A tight-clustered trio of peaks on the Llyn Peninsula, Yr Eifl combine the rugged feel of Snowdonia proper with a photogenic coastal location. While only the biggest, Carn Ganol, tops 500m, their sense of height is elevated by their proximity to the sea, with the peak of Garn For rising to 444m within a single craggy kilometre of the shore. Meanwhile, on Tre'r Ceiri (485m) stands one of Europe's most spectacular prehistoric hill forts. Yr Eifl is often mis-translated as The Rivals, but it's probably fair to say that they don't have many.

Craig yr Aderyn - 258m

Craig y aderyn
© Dean Scott, Jan 2009

Poking in an unlikely fashion out of the lush green Dyffryn Dysynni, below the western foot of Cadair Idris, Craig yr Aderyn's craggy profile is strikingly incongruous. The name translates as Bird's Rock, and indeed it's been given SSSI status for its breeding birds, which include the largest inland colony of cormorants in Wales.

Moel-y-Gest - 263m

Moel-y-Gest Main buttresses (South of Tremadog)
© Sarah_Clough, Feb 2005

Directly overlooking the busy town of Porthmadog, an A-road and a railway, the little-talked-about hummock of Moel y Gest may not instantly spring to mind when you've the whole of Snowdonia to choose from. But don't be put off by its trifling summit height; this is a rugged wee hill, with a load of quality climbable rock, for those who like that kind of thing, and an under-appreciated outlook on the idyllic Glaslyn estuary for those who simply like to go up hills for the views.

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15 Aug, 2019

Did think Win hill might have crept into the list, a good work out from the bottom and

arguably one of the best views in the Peak District, from the top.

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