Sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to slog your way up one of the Highlands’ renowned giants. Smaller peaks, which are frequently easier to reach, are full of character and offer equally stunning views as some of Scotland’s most well-loved hills. Here are our top picks for 10 of the best little hills in the nation; some are well-known and recognized, and some are hardly known, but they are all under 600 meters tall.
1. Ben A’an, Trossachs
The typical “great wee hill” is Ben A’an. A check at a map reveals it’s only a hump on the southern slopes of the negligible higher summit of Meall Gainmheich… However, a trip to the ground demonstrates that height is meaningless.
Forget the parent hill; it’s the stunning rocky cone of Ben A’an that captures everyone’s eye and may be part of the reason the Trossachs are seen as a miniature version of the Highlands. Deservedly popular (the car lot fills quickly on weekends), the ascent gives spectacular views over Loch Katrine.
2. Dumyat, Ochils
The Ochils, with their sheer southern sides and glens concealing a rolling plateau, provide excellent hillwalking and are easily accessible from the central belt. But in the views out from Stirling through the Wallace Monument, their lower outlier, Dumyat, commands much of the attention. It’s a great hill to climb and offers a fantastic view.
3. Eildon Hills, Borders
On the outskirts of Melrose, a stunning Borders town rises a collection of three small hills known as The Eildons. There are few better ways to spend a fine afternoon than visiting each of these three summits, which are located in Walter Scott’s country and are close to his home in Abbotsford.
4. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
We couldn’t miss this, could we? A dramatic rocky climax to the wonderful Holyrood Park, Arthur’s Seat is a fantastic peak to have in the middle of a major city. With Corstorphine Hill, Calton Hill, Blackford Hill, and the Braid Hills, Edinburgh may have an abundance of scenic vantage points, but there is no denying that this volcanic top is the best.
5. Ben Hogh, Isle of Coll
The highest summit of the breathtaking Isle of Coll is Ben Hogh, going from most well-known to possibly least. Rising to only 104m, the island is not an apparent site for hillwalking, but in actuality, the environment is rough and dramatic, not to mention fringed by some of the greatest beaches you’ll ever visit. A climb up Ben Hogh is a good way to get started.
6. Bennachie, Aberdeenshire
For all that Clachnaben has a spectacular summit tor, there is little doubt that Bennachie is the small hill in Aberdeenshire. Although essentially comprising of a tiny range with numerous peaks topped by Oxen Craig, there is no doubt that it is the iron-age fort and majestic peak of the Mither Tap that is its outstanding feature.
7. Eaval, North Uist
The heart of North Uist seems more water- than landscape, making an ascent of Eaval (or Eabhal in Gaelic) a unique hillwalking experience. Although this hill takes a bit more work than some of the other hills on the list, the effort is well worth the view.
8. Plockton Crags, Lochalsh
One of Scotland’s most picturesque villages is set against this group of towering crags and their lower slopes of pine trees. The climb uses trails that go up to the Carn a’ Bhealaich Mhoir summit’s communication mast, but a short distance further offers a stunning view of the settlement below and across Loch Carron to the Applecross peaks.
9. Ben Tianavaig, Isle of Skye
Not far from Plockton sits the bridge to the Isle of Skye — Scotland’s most celebrated island. The best-known elements of a magnificent landscape are the enormous rock summits of the Cuillin, the scree-girt Red Hills, and the dramatic panoramas of the Trotternish peninsula.
This little hill, located south of Portree, is less well-known. Its extraordinary form resembles the much higher Storr to the north, but Ben Tianavaig is a stunning hill to climb in its own right and gives amazing views of much of the island.
10. Conic Hill, Loch Lomond
We’re back into the domain of the familiar for most Scots here. The views from Conic Hill, which look directly along the chain of islands on the Highland Boundary Fault, are absolutely incomparable if you are willing to put in a little extra work. Duncryne (the Dumpling) atop Gartocharn gives a breathtaking vista for little effort.