The summer solstice has just been and gone, but these long days will last for a while, so why not celebrate with an uber-challenging hill walk? These five mammoth expeditions will leave you sore but happy.
The sun’s shining, the evenings are endless, and your muscles are honed from regular spring tramping sessions. It’s time to tackle a mountain day of epic proportions - so which route will you take on? We’ve come up with a few suggestions...
1. The Fisherfield Five
Shenavall bothy. Pic: Paul Birrell / geograph.co.uk
Ask a compleater about their most memorable Munro bagging trip, and chances are they’ll bring up the Fisherfield Five. Once known as the Fisherfield Six (poor old Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh was stripped of its Munro status back in 2012), these lofty neighbours stand within one of the most remote areas of Scotland. For the physically fit and mentally hardy, it’s possible to bag them all in one expedition beginning and ending at the Shenavall bothy. Treacherous bogs and some potentially tricky river crossings make this a trip best saved for good weather - but when the sun shines and the ground is dry, it’s well worth the effort. Walk in the day before and leave between 12 and 18 hours to complete the circuit from the bothy. By the end of the day, you should have bagged the Munro tops of Sgurr Ban, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Beinn Tarsuinn, A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor (reportedly home to the most remote grid square in mainland Britain) - as well as the Corbett Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh.
2. Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm
The view from the summit of Ben Macdui. Photo: Iain Frazer / Shutterstock
It might not be an epic of Fisherfield standard, but the trek out to Ben Macdui across the Cairngorm plateau still makes for a long and demanding day. Beginning at the CairnGorm Ski Centre car park, it encompasses 11 miles of exposed and navigationally challenging terrain with 932 metres of ascent and two Munros thrown in for good measure. The route crosses moorland, bog, tundra and ridge, taking in incredible views over the Rothiemurchus Forest and the Northern Corries en-route.
3. Ennerdale Horseshoe
Late summer evening light on Ennerdale. Photo: Stewart Smith / Shutterstock
Of all the fabulous hilly horseshoes that Lakeland has to offer, this is arguably the most dramatic and the most challenging. The classic round is circa 23 miles and includes a dazzling line-up of the Lake District’s finest - Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Haystacks, Green Gable, Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar are all ticked off along the way. Allow around fourteen hours to accomplish the full circuit, which will test your endurance to the max with over 7,000 metres of ascent. This is a long and arduous day, but if you find yourself flagging then there are several shortening options and you could consider stopping overnight at Black Sail YHA.
4. Carneddau traverse
The view from Pen yr Ole Wen in the Carneddau, over the Ogwen Valley. Photo: Carey Davies
Snowdonia has its fair share of awesome ridge walks - the Snowdon Horseshoe, the Glyderau traverse and the Nantlle Ridge to name just a few - but if you’re up for a thigh-busting challenging then make a beeline for the Carneddau. Taking in seven of the 15 Welsh 3,000-ers, this linear 14-mile walk is a mish-mash of marvelous mountain scenery. It begins with an ascent of Pen yr Ole Wen before continuing on to bag Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewellyn, Yr Elen, Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf and Foel Fras. The isolated nature of the terrain and the blindingly gorgeous views over towards the Glyders and the Snowdon range make this one of the best days out in North Wales. Bear in mind that you’ll need to arrange transport to ferry you back to the start.
5. Trotternish Ridge
The Trotternish Ridge, Skye. Photo: Hanna Lindon
While the scrambling set takes advantage of long daylight hours to conquer the Cuillin, why not head to the other side of Skye for a different kind of hill walking adventure? The Trotternish Ridge is an unearthly ancient landslip that marches north from Portree. None of its summits rise above 700 metres, but the remoteness and the geological drama of the landscape combine to make this one of Scotland’s most epic hill walks. Most people choose to split the ridge into two manageable days with a wild camp in between - although hardcore hill walkers have been known to squeeze the entire 22 miles into one lengthy day. It’s generally walked from north to south, beginning near Duntolm and ending at Portree, with the pathless terrain and the constant ups and downs adding piquancy to the challenge. Don’t miss the chance to drop off the ridge part way to see the Old Man of Storr and its surrounding rock sculptures.
READ MORE: Get into hill walking with these BMC resources
GO ON A COURSE: Learn from professionals
BMC Active Outdoors: Want to learn all the skills you need to be a confident hill walker at a bargain price? The BMC's Active Outdoor courses include 'Head for the Hills' courses, affordable hill walking weekends for beginners at the famous Plas y Brenin mountain centre in Snowdonia. Check them out here.
Hill and Mountain Skills: The BMC's partner organisation Mountain Training has just launched its new Hill and Mountain Skills Courses. They aim to equip you with the basic knowledge and safety skills required to participate in hill and mountain walking in your own time and are run by providers all over the UK. More info here.
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