I love hill walks but I’m a total unfit beginner. I was desperate to ‘bag’ some of Scotland’s famous munros, but the truth is, I am unfit and unprepared to take on such a big climb. You hear of some of these horror stories of young people underestimating the complexity of Scotland’s landscape, and going out for a hike with only shorts and a mobile phone. (Or that one guy who needed rescuing after climbing Snowdonia in his undies!!).
I did some internet research and decided to start small and easy to see how I could handle less-steep inclines. After all, as much as I’m an active outdoorsy person, hiking up a hill is a different kind of fitness. Not to mention my lack of equipment to tackle big climbs. I’ve compiled a short list of my favourite small hills to climb at weekends, meaning they are within driving distance from Glasgow!
1. Ben A’an – Aberfoyle
I’ve not walked up Ben A’an in a few years but it’s absolutely one of my favourites. It’s known as the ‘mountain in miniature’ and gives you all of the glory with only a little bit of hard work. Perfect for us amateurs! It stands at a modest 454m but please don’t go unprepared. My first time walking up it, I did it in welly boots and it was a huge mistake! (See above for proof of stupidity). Wear some sensible shoes and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over Loch Katrine at the heart of the Trossachs National Park.
2. Conic Hill – Balmaha
Lying in the shadow of Conic Hill is Balmaha and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, so you know it’s easily accessible from Glasgow. It’s about 361m high, so about 2.5 miles in total distance. It also incorporates part of the West Highland Way, but breaks off near the tip where you can get spectacular views over Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills. Once you’ve done the “hard work”, you can reward yourself to food at drink at Cafe St Mocha or the popular Oak Tree Inn across from the car park. You can find a full write-up of my Conic Hill climb here.
3. Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) – Arrochar
The Cobbler is very popular with amateur walkers and is one of the most distinctive mountain tops in the Southern Highlands. The route starts off in Arrochar village and has quite a lot of strict zig zags to begin with. The peak gets very rocky as you ascents to the tip and could require a bit of hands-on. Again, be prepared with the right clothing and information before setting off. See here for more information about tackling the Cobbler.
4. Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh
If you’ve ever visited Edinburgh, no doubt you will have seen Arthur’s Seat in the city’s backdrop. East of the castle and with Holyrood in it’s shadow, the peak sits at 251m and offers views over the city, castle and Firth & Forth. It’s a relatively easy climb with the top getting quite rocky and steep as it is an old dormant volcano. Even better you can get the train into Waverley Station and walk to the start. You can read my full write up of Arthur’s Seat here.