Scotland is a hillwalker’s paradise, from the Trossachs to the Cairngorms, the Torridon Hills in the Highlands to the Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye. With hills and mountains of all sizes and for all abilities, it is little wonder that visitors from all over the world visit Scotland to ‘bag’ the beautiful hills.
But whether you’re looking for Munros within easy driving distance of Glasgow, or a more sedate hill to hike, the different hills and mountains in Scotland have different names. You may already heard of a Munro, but what is a Corbett, Graham, or Donald? They all have different meanings, so let’s have a look!
While all Munros are mountains, not all mountains are Munros. A Munro is a mountain that is over 3,000ft, or 914-metres. The name is taken from London-born aristocrat and mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro, whose family owned land near Kirriemuir.
Sir Hugh loved to explore Scotland’s peaks, and he published a list of all the mountains he had ‘bagged’, which led to the peaks being known as ‘Munros’. Encouraged by Sir Hugh’s adventures, many people have now taken up ‘Munro Bagging’, as they conquer each of Scotland’s 282 Munros.
Of the more well-known Munros, there is Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, and Ben Lomond.
Of all the mountain classifications in Scotland, Munros are the highest. So what do the other names mean?
A Corbett is the next highest of Scotland’s mountains and is also categorised by height. To be classed as a Corbett, a mountain must be over 2,500ft, but less than 3,000ft, and have a drop of at least 500ft between each listed hill and any adjacent higher one.
They were named after John Rooke Corbett, better known as J. Rooke Corbett, who was one of the founder-members of The Rucksack Club and their Convener of Rambles, and he joined the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1923.
In the 1920s Corbett compiled a list of Scottish hills between 2,500 and 3,000ft with a prominence of at least 500ft. In 1930 Corbett became the fourth person to complete all 282 Munros, and there are 221 summits classed as a Corbett.
Grahams are defined as a Scottish mountain between 2,000 and 2,500ft, which is the minimum requirement in the UK to be classed as a ‘mountain’, with a minimum prominence drop of 492ft. There are 224 Grahams in Scotland.
Originally, mountains in this height range were known as ‘Elsies’, which was short for Lesser Corbetts, or ‘LCs’.
The hills now known as Grahams were first listed by Alan Dawson in ‘The Relative Hills of Britain’, published in April 1992 as a list of hills called Marilyns, so all Grahams are by definition Marilyns.
The Grahams are now named after Fiona Torbet (neé Graham), who compiled her own list of 244 hills in the Scottish Highlands, published by The Great Outdoors magazine in November 1992.
And finally, there are 89 Donald’s. These are hills in Lowland Scotland that exceed 2000 feet in height.
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