Bloomerís Challenge is a UK wide challenge, as the qualifying criterion that hills must have at least 500 m of prominence is applied uniformly across the whole of the UK. There are 158 hills in the list and they can be analysed by Height Group, Traditional List, Topography and Nation:
|Height < 610 m||6|
|Carn Eige Group||63|
|Ben Nevis Group||51|
|Isle of Man||1|
The peaks in Bloomer's Challenge include the three P1000s, together with all 155 of the P500s in the UK. As a shorthand, these are referred to as the P500+s. Of these 82% are over 750 m in height and 85% are in Scotland.
Itís important to understand that most of the P500+s have their own family of hills within which they are the most prominent and the highest. In the Lake District (above), Scafell Pike has the largest family with 36 Prominent Peak descendants. Only 14 of the P500+s have no descendants.
For newcomers to hill walking the P500+s offer a varied challenge, which gives enormous geographic coverage of the UK and an opportunity to build a mental picture linking hill groups across the widest area. For established hill baggers with a high tally of summits, Bloomer’s Challenge will doubtless offer new opportunities in new areas.
The 2 P500+s that are closest together (2.5 km) are Carn Mor and Bidein a'Chabair between Lochs Arkaig and Morar. This pair, together with Ben Buie and Creach Bheinn on Mull, are perhaps the best chances of combining 2 P500+s into a single dayís walk.
The most isolated P500+ peak is High Willhays on Dartmoor, which is 139 km from Pen y Fan in South Wales.
|511||578||Earl's Seat||S||Campsie Fells||26A|
|519||574||Mealaisbhal||S||Lewis - Uig Hills||24A|
|555||572||Beinn Mhor||S||Lewis - Pairc||24A|
|526||551||Sidhean na Raplaich||S||Morvern||18C|
If youíre still unconvinced that the P500+ Challenge is interesting, then consider the lowest 6 hills below 600 m in height. Earlís Seat (19 km N of Glasgow) in the Campsie Fells was the subject of a very complimentary review in a leading hill magazine in summer 2008.
[Photo of Mealaisbhal © Jim Bloomer]
Mealaisbhal in the Uig hills of Lewis (together with its nearby descendants) is described in the SMC guide as 'strenuous', 'rocky' with distant views to the Flannan Islands and St Kilda. It has the added advantage that you can explore the UKís best beach after the descent. Also on Lewis is Beinn Mhor, which can be accessed by new paths from Eisgein above the N shore of Loch Shealg (or by canoeing across Loch Seaforth). Again the views are outstanding to the Sound of Shiant and the North Harris hills.
Stob Odhar sits on the Kintyre peninsula in a unique position. Forest tracks on its eastern flanks can be used constructively to get close to the hill. The view provides a new perspective to those who climb it, with Jura's Paps, Arran, Mull and the Cowal hills dominating.
Sidhean na Raplaich is seldom climbed, with a large ancient cairn on its summit. Itís the most southerly P500+ 'north of the Great Glen', again with excellent views across the Sound of Mull and down Loch Sunart to Ardnamurchan.
Trostan in Ulster is visible from the western Lakes on the clearest days and the Galloway hills more frequently. Itís nearer to Scotland than it is to a higher hill in Northern Ireland; try and save it for a fine day!
As mentioned above, there are very few opportunities to combine two P500+s into a single walk. Many hill lovers will eschew the idea of doing an easier P500+ in the morning with another in the afternoon, instead preferring to have an uninterrupted day 'on the hill' (perhaps combining less Prominent Peaks and varying the route of ascent and descent). If you choose to follow this approach then the P500+ Challenge will involve over 150 days out Ė as much as most traditional challenges.