My Favourite Summit View

The high point of a hill may not always provide its most photogenic moments, but the top does tend to be the place you stop for longest to take in your surroundings. Some summit views are just plain in-yer-face impressive, while others may have a more personal meaning. Focusing on one particular favourite is really an impossible task, but that hasn't stopped us asking a number of well-known hill folk precisely that question. So which have they picked...?

Nick Livesey - Y Llethr

Sometimes, the aesthetics of a view are not nearly as important as the emotions they evoke in the viewer and more often than not those emotions are born out of memories, associations and a sense of place. Several times a year I make a special pilgrimage to sit in solitude upon a seldom trodden rib of gritstone which arcs down from the northern slopes of Y Llethr. As I gaze across Llyn Hywel to Rhinog Fach and its towering south ridge (which, at one time, hosted the only rock climb between Cadair Idris and Snowdon) I lose myself in a reverie of thoughts and feelings which on other mountains I studiously avoid and place in a box marked 'do not open'.

Llyn Hywel and Rhinog Fach from Y Llethr  © Nick Livesey
Llyn Hywel and Rhinog Fach from Y Llethr
© Nick Livesey

I am under no illusions; Having travelled extensively through the mountains of Britain I would never suggest that this scene, although undeniably wild and beautiful, is the finest of them all. Indeed, it isn't even the finest in the Rhinogydd. For me, though, it is a poignant place, a significant place and a reminder of how lives can change in an instant.

It was here during a brief conversation on the phone that my fiancé told me that our three year relationship was over and in that moment I made a vow that come what may I would dedicate the remainder of my life to the mountains of Snowdonia.

Six years later that snap decision has served me well and although the fragments of a broken heart can never be completely reassembled the hills offer solace and perspective when I need it the most.

This lonely mountainside, to me, is hallowed ground, the view from which will, for many years to come, remain the one I hold dearest.

Kate Worthington - Buttermere from High Snockrigg

What an indulgence to think about 'a favourite view'. There's so many of them etched in our minds, aren't there. And if you've spent much of your childhood and adult years visiting many new or old favourite mountains with family, friends, loved ones, groups or just wandering on your own, there are so many special places and moments to choose from: that haunting brocken spectre, the bright rainbow in May, the reflective lake water, the clouds blowing off like cotton wool puffs, a pink dawn and amber-glowing hillsides in a setting sun.

Full of memories for Kate, it's a damn fine view too...  © Kate Worthington
Full of memories for Kate, it's a damn fine view too...
© Kate Worthington

But when I think of all these moments captured with my eyes and heart, I do always come back to one particular place. This is not a view from the 'highest' or even the most prominent or spectacular summit on this Lakeland ridgeline above Buttermere. But, for me, this view holds in its heart a stunning vista of all my childhood wanderings across many of the Central and North Western fells, with my parents and older brother. A childhood playground from where my dad gave me confidence to scramble up rocky clefts and steps (he held on to me very tightly) and where I learnt the art of patience and determination at 'getting to the top' with tired legs, tracksuit trousers and 'Cebo' leather walking boots – in whatever weather we went out in that day! Whether I look towards my favourite 'big ones' or cast my eye towards Crummock Water and the more modest Mellbreak and Low Fell, I see all my memories, still atop those summit ridges. I'm running downhill with my hair in bouncy bunches. My dad has now passed away, but I come to this quiet place at least once a year to sit still, to enjoy, to shed a tear and, if I'm very lucky, to bask in sunny warmth and think of days gone and days to come. A magnificent view is where our eyes lay upon what is life, to us; personal and unique.

  • ML and Winter ML Kate Worthington co-owns mountain leading and course providing firm RAW adventures

Adrian Trendall - Am Basteir

Hill names in the Cuillin are dramatic, and none more so than Am Basteir. A dramatic blade of rock rising between the corries, it amply justifies its name, The Executioner. Many seek out its summit as a Munro, many traverse it as part of the Cuillin Ridge.

On Am Basteir looking towards Sgurr nan Gillean, the Red Cuillin and Clach Glas/Bla Bheinn  © Adrian Trendall
On Am Basteir looking towards Sgurr nan Gillean, the Red Cuillin and Clach Glas/Bla Bheinn
© Adrian Trendall

Tough terrain and an evocative name both appeal to me but paramount is its position. When traversing the Cuillin Ridge, arriving on Am Basteir's summit signals the end of the major difficulties; the ridge is nearly in the bag. The view ahead is to Sgurr nan Gillean, the end of the ridge and another Munro. Sgurr nan Gillean is a personal favourite so the view from Am Basteir is perfect. The best route is via Pinnacle Ridge which is visible on the left skyline.

Working as a mountain guide and photographer, the view is really of my office with not just the Black Cuillin visible but beyond are the rounded hills of the Red Cuillin and the jagged majesty of Clach Glas and Bla Bheinn.

Am Bastier is the central peak sandwiched between Sgurr nan Gillean and Sgurr a Bhasteir, part of the very distinctive silhouette visible from Glen level at Sligachan. From below, the peaks look like drawings of stereotypical mountains. From the summit, the views are spectacular, each peak a separate character, 360 degrees of perfection.

    Terry Abraham - Eden from the North Pennines

    There's many summit views I particularly hold dear; some of which I'd rather not share and others that are often recognised for their qualities by the wider public. A favourite place I frequently visit now is one that's close to my home in Cumbria.

    The Eden Valley from the North Pennines  © Terry Abraham
    The Eden Valley from the North Pennines
    © Terry Abraham

    At least three times a week I like to set off on my bike and tackle the bridleways that cross the North Pennines for leisure and food for the soul, particularly the summit of Great Dun Fell which happens to be the location of the highest unclassified road in the UK. I don't always head for the top admittedly, but regularly I can be found exploring its flanks by the old mines whereupon the most awe-inspiring views open up before you. With the various peaks and outcrops of England's last great 'wilderness' embracing your position, one can admire the intimate details and rolling hills of the stunning Eden Valley and to compliment the scene further the Lakeland fells loom above like paternal guardians. Whatever the season, the scenery doesn't disappoint as the westerly fronts envelop and dance about Helvellyn or Blencathra and crepuscular rays beam down on the lush Eden below. There's more to the sights before you too. Barn owls regularly hunt on the flanks of Great Dun Fell, fell ponies and cattle graze amongst the numerous shrubs and trees that have been planted in recent years and if you're lucky you can enjoy the calls and company of black grouse too!

    Up on the largest chunk of high ground in England (geologically speaking at least) you can find peace and solitude unlike most places. Granted the odd shepherd may be about doing their duties but more often than not you'll only chance upon the discerning walker, locals or those tackling the Pennine Way. It really is a special place and it dumbfounds me that it doesn't see more visitors but I'm not going to complain about that too much!

    • Terry Abraham, Outdoors Filmmaker and Photographer - check him out on Facebook

    Rob Woodall - Jebel Shams, Oman

    Being a peakbagger I tend to visit many different places around the world, often only once! Nearer home there are many special places I never tire of – Lakes, Peak and Mid Wales with their patchwork fields draped over steep hillsides. Views from Coigach or Lewis summits where it's a puzzle to trace a route through. On my doorstep, the huge Fenland skies and shorebird-filled East Anglian coasts are special too. In compete contrast are the naked peaks of desert lands baring their multicoloured strata in the sharp clear air.

    The view from Jebel Shams is a bit special...  © Rob Woodall
    The view from Jebel Shams is a bit special...
    © Rob Woodall

    In the relative cool of an early March pre-dawn I set out for the highest point of Oman, Jebel Shams, at 3018m. Unlike my other targets that week, this one has a paint-marked trail, picking its way across rubbly limestone to the lip of the spectacular Saydran Gorge, a tributary of the even more impressive 1000m deep Wadi Ghul - Oman's Grand Canyon. To the west, Jebel Kawr, my 14-hour moon-to-dusk peak of 2 days earlier, is catching the early sun, along with its shapely neighbour Jebel Misht. I'm at the south summit late morning, above another 1000m drop, another deep wadi to my east. The view south is just gorgeous, with waves of precipitous dark ridges softened by translucent mist. Turning north my gaze follows the wadi rim to the main summit, just 10 metres higher and topped by 2 military radomes. On closer inspection the new fence and signs aren't welcoming. I make my way round to the entrance. A vehicle comes out. Any chance of reaching the highpoint? None at all, they assure me, but would I like a lift down? An offer I couldn't refuse! These weren't military, just local workmen, but it seemed expedient to settle for the highest legal point. A memorable ascent, and an unforgettable view.

    • See Rob's ascent details here

    Fiona Russell - Dumgoyne

    It's difficult to choose a favourite summit from the many hundreds I have enjoyed. There have been memorable summits that I have walked to only once but from where I have enjoyed the most incredible views. There have been hard-won summits, such as several in Skye's Cuillin, that have seemed all the more impressive because they have involved tricky ascents.

    "It's my go-to hill for training and for times when I need to clear my head"
    © FionaOutdoors

    Perhaps, then, I should choose the summit of a hill that I have climbed countless times and each time offers a different perspective or view. That hill is Dumgoyne, just north of Strathblane in Stirlingshire. It's a hill that is local to me and although it's not that tall – the summit trig sits at 427m and the elevation gain is some 380m – the path up is steep and the climb always feels like a great challenge.

    Loch Lomond and the Highlands from Dumgoyne  © Dan Bailey
    Loch Lomond and the Highlands from Dumgoyne
    © Dan Bailey

    I have walked and run the volcanic plug solo, with my whippet Wispa and with more friends than I can remember. I have completed multiple ascents in a row – five is the most – and climbed it twice during a long run along the nearby West Highland Way. I have reached the summit in every kind of weather, including blue skies and warm sunshine, rain, mist, a snowy white-out and also on many crisp and clear winter days. Several times I have been treated to a stunning temperature inversion and on one occasion I could not get to the top because the wind was so strong. I have reached the summit at sunset and close to sunrise and pretty much every hour of the day in between. I have also run this hill at night with the aid of a headtorch.

    It's my go-to hill for training and for times when I need to clear my head. Every time it reminds me of the amazing beauty of Scotland – and right on my doorstep.

    Steven Fallon - A' Mhaighdean

    Having been up the Munros several times, you'd think I'd have trouble deciding which would be my favourite summit view in Scotland. No, it's pretty clear, it's the view from A' Mhaighdean.

    Fionn Loch and the distant sea from A' Mhaighdean  © Steven Fallon
    Fionn Loch and the distant sea from A' Mhaighdean
    © Steven Fallon

    I've got some great memories of views from lots of peaks - the view down Loch Tay from the summit of Ben More when I was aged 10, the view from Arkle's summit along its quartzite and sandstone pavement out towards Cape Wrath and beyond, and the 360 degree panorama when standing on Beinn na Caillich being surrounded by Beinn Sgreatheall, the Knoydart peaks and Skye's Cuillin. But it's A'Mhaighdean that really stands out for me.

    A'Mhaighdean, sits in the heart of the Letterewe and Fisherfield wilderness and competes with Lurg Mhor and Seana Bhraigh for the title of the most remote Munro. The effort required to reach A'Mhaighdean is substantial regardless of approach direction. In the main I've headed to A'Mhaighdean from Corrie Haillie, sometimes combining it with other nearby Fisherfield peaks, together known as the "Big 6" (or is it now the "Big 5" with Beinn a'Chlaidheimh being demoted from Munro status ?) and other times also even coming over An Teallach on the way. These routes make for spectacular outings. There's lots of "oh" and "ah" to be had from the other peaks in the "Big 6", but once A'Mhaighdean's summit is gained, it's "wow", or rather "WOOOOOOW !!!".

    Just off A'Mhaighdean's summit, on a little rocky spur that juts out westwards is the best view-point. I've been fortunate many times to be here in clear conditions, where I've stood with the landscape stretched out before me. Ahead and below is Fionn Loch journeying out north-westwards, surrounded on either side by the rocky escarpments on Beinn Lair, Beinn Airigh Charr and Beinn a'Chaisgein Mor. As the view is taken in, your eye is drawn further out, past the sea loch of Loch Ewe to Lewis and Harris on the Outer Hebrides and to the blue line where sky meets sea. It's a view you'd never get bored with, but should you, you just need to turn around and an another view presents itself. Although A'Mhaighdean has a relatively modest height of 948m, it is, as are all the mountains in the north-west of Scotland, rather pointy and the views in all directions are therefore stunning. Just look over your left shoulder and Slioch is vying for your attention, with the shimmering Torridon mountains behind, stretch a little further over your shoulder and you'll pick out the Cairngorm plateaux, most likely covered in snow. Turn right and look north, An Teallach's razor sharp spires and pinnacles dominate the view and if you look carefully, you should be able to pick out Foinaven in the distance beyond. Directly behind you are the Fannaichs with the mass of Ben Wyvis beyond.

    Most people backpack in from near Dundonnell, spending a few days camping and exploring the area. The effort required makes the prize of the views from A'Mhaighdean even more rewarding and special. Recently, I've ran in from Poolewe, which showed a completely different side to A'Mhaighdean - it's quite an intricate mountain, slightly foreboding and with a lot going on. I hope to be back there again this summer !

    Geoff Allan - Beinn Achaladair

    You don't need to travel to far flung places to get fabulous views in Scotland. A personal favourite is the majestic panorama seen from the top of Beinn Achaladair, one of four munros which stand proudly above Bridge of Orchy.

    Rannoch Moor from Beinn Achaladair  © Geoff Allan
    Rannoch Moor from Beinn Achaladair
    © Geoff Allan

    Approaching the crest of the gently arcing summit ridge, the breath-taking sight of Rannoch Moor opens up to the horizon, the ring of mountains on its far boundary: the Black Mount, Glencoe, and round to Ben Nevis and the Mamores, floating above a vast dappled carpet of heather, peat bog, boulders and ribbon lochs. I could spend hours up there watching cloud shadows sweep across the broad, open canvas, and idly working out the names of individual mountains, each familiar like an old friend. And also inevitably reliving past expeditions and exploits. Stumbling back over Creise and Stob Ghabar having been dropped off by coach after my first all-nighter at a university club dinner meet in the village hall; nicking a skittering ascent of Taxus, (a classic ice climb on the north-east coire of Beinn Dòthaidh), and almost knocking my climbing partners block off when I dropped a metal thermos flask from the top belay; breathlessly flying down into Coire Achaladair on a late winter's afternoon; and a mind numbing plod straight up the seemingly endless slope from the roadside, with a masocist friend who just fancied the challenge. So many memories accumulated over the years. On my most recent trip, I linked the ascent with a trip to Gorton Bothy and returned via Beinn a'Chreachain, a long but very satisfying walk combining my two favourite passions!

    Kev Reynolds - Gokyo Ri, Nepal

    I thought about this for several days and came up with a dozen or so contenders – some from the Alps and Pyrenees, others from Turkey and the Caucasus of Russia, a few modest Himalayan tops too, as well as UK mountains on which I learned to climb a lifetime ago. Most are easily reached, for I've never been any great shakes as a climber or mountaineer, content to remain a stumbler and bumbler. But the one summit whose view invades my memory time and again is that of Gokyo Ri in the Khumbu region of Nepal.

    Summit views don't come much bigger than Gokyo Ri's!  © Kev Reynolds
    Summit views don't come much bigger than Gokyo Ri's!
    © Kev Reynolds

    Rising above a cluster of trekkers' lodges two or three days from Namche Bazaar, on a good day you can scale this big 5340m/17,520ft hill with hands buried deep in your pockets. But when plastered with snow and ice it offers a much more serious challenge. Three times I've climbed it; once with a friend when on research for a guidebook, once when leading a group, and once – the best of all – in snow, with my wife and a Sherpa friend. The mountain was all ours, and the view everything I'd promised it would be.

    That summit view is a 360 degree panorama of bewitching beauty. Far below stretches the Ngozumpa glacier – Nepal's longest. Sparkling in its ablation valley lie a string of turquoise lakes, while among an incredible list of peaks on show there are no less than four of the World's eight thousanders: Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Makalu, and Everest itself (seen across the Ngozumpa and the Cho La pass), plus six- and seven-thousand metre peaks with character all their own. The best of these is Gyachung Kang (7922m/25,991ft) on the Nepal-Tibet border, seemingly close enough to touch. I've not yet gazed on it with dry eyes.

    • Kev Reynolds has published countless walking guidebooks. Most recently he was Contributing Editor of the Cicerone anniversary book Fifty Years of Adventure

    And I'll take... Gleouraich

    It would hardly be fair to badger our contributors into choosing a personal favourite view without also having a go myself. I've found the task as hard as anyone - I do climb quite a few hills, and I think they all have their merits - but for sheer impact I'd say the western panorama from Gleouraich takes some beating.

    Loch Quoich and Knoydart's well-named Rough Bounds from Gleouraich  © Dan Bailey
    Loch Quoich and Knoydart's well-named Rough Bounds from Gleouraich
    © Dan Bailey

    At your feet, the long arm of Loch Quoich reaches far out into Knoydart's Rough Bounds, a knotty tangle that forms an effective barrier isolating the peninsular from the rest of the Scottish Mainland. Dominant among them is the sharp cone of Sgurr na Ciche, one of the great sentinel peaks of the western seaboard. Closer to hand stands the corrie-bitten hulk of Sgurr a' Mhaoraich, and behind it looms a jagged hint of the Skye Cuillin. Gleouraich feels like the gateway to Scotland's wild and rocky west, and that view could be the inspiration for a lifetime of exploration...

    This post has been read 1,241 times

    Return to Latest Articles or view other

    17 Jun

    Great article. My own personal favourite view is looking out West from the top of Sgurr na h Ulaidh. The views East and North aren't that bad either!!