Ben Nevis in the Grampian Mountains is the highest mountain in all of the British Isles. The mountain provides a memorable mountain experience for climbers and hikers. The peaks of Ben Macdui, Braeriach, and Cairn Toul follow in height, respectively. These mountains and their cliffs make Scotland the most mountainous region of the United Kingdom. In fact, Scotland has an area called the Highlands where most of the mountain ranges are found. However, the Grampians forms the central belt of mountains in the heart of Scotland, and this belt houses the Cairngorms. Below we look at the highest mountains in Scotland.
The mountain stands at 4,409 feet above sea level. Located on the western side of the Grampian Mountains in Lochaber, the mountain attracts close to 100,000 ascents a year. The cliffs on the northern face are the highest in the Scottish Highlands and provide classic rock climbs and scrambles for except mountaineers and climbers, and ice climbing surfaces. The summit of the mountains was once an observatory built in 1883 until 1904 and a path was made to allow for ponies to deliver supplies. A Ben Nevis Distillery which is a single malt whiskey company is built at the mountain’s foot. Human impact on the fragile mountain environment is the significant environmental threat facing the mountain. The path erosion increases, but there are measures to upgrade the tracks and reduce the erosion.
Ben Macdui, in the center of the Cairngorms, is the second highest mountain in Scotland. With a summit of around 4,294 feet, the peak is wilder than the cliffs of Ben Nevis. Climbers and mountaineers can climb from both the Deeside and Speyside sides. Sources have it that the mountain is haunted by a sort of wraith referred to as the "Old Grey Man". The mountain provides climbs for all kind of experience with a tremendous challenge being the Cairngorm ascent from the Speyside. The best paths lie on the plateau which is exposed and quite tricky to navigate. At the summit of the mountain, there is a direction indicator constructed in 1925 by the Cairngorm Club of Aberdeen in memory of Mr. Alexander Copland its former president.
Ascending to a height of around 4,252 feet, Braeriach is the third highest mountain in the British Isles. The pass of Lairig Ghru separates the Braeriach from Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm. The pass is a wild place with a vast range of beautiful and dramatic corries. From March to November, the mountains provide the best climbing, hiking, and mountaineering. Climbers can take the Sron Na Lairige track which is easier. For the experienced or climbers who love a challenge, the Speyside is the epic challenge.
Rising to an estimated 4,236 feet, Cairn Toul is the fourth highest mountain in Scotland. To get to the mountain, a long walk through a plateau that is full of corries is required. The rough terrain to the Corrour Bothy is extremely tenuous with the rough boulders lying in the Chalamain Gap and the steep ascent to the plateau follows. Also, the exposed terrain suffers from foul weather and reduced visibility. Part of River Dee sources from the Cairn Toul.
Climbing the Mountains
Since these mountains are found in the Grampians and in the Cairngorms, the regions have an alpine maritime climate. The moraine topography is harsh on new climbers, mountaineers, and also experts. Going through the mountains requires an excellent guide and the right gears. In severe weather, the mountains are perilous even to the most experienced climbers.
Scottish Mountain Wildlife
The Cairngorms provide a beautiful alpine semi-tundra moorland environment, and it is home to many rare birds, plants, and animals. Birds here include the golden eagle, red grouse, purple sandpiper, and dotterel. Deep in the forests the black grouse, capercaillie, crested tit, Scottish crossbill, and the parrot crossbill. Ospreys come in the summer and attract crowds of people. The endangered species capercaillie and the endemic Scottish crossbill have a home here.
Threats to Scotland's Highlands Ecosystems
The maritime climate of the mountains in the Cairngorms is unusually cold, being situated at a latitude of 57 degrees North. The present global warming is leading to an increase in temperature and rainfall. Even though the natural population of birds is not disturbed, plans are underway to put the area under conservation. The urban population also threatens the mountainous region of Cairngorms with an increased need for recreation, trampling damage and erosion, littering and pollution to water quality.