Geographic Issues with Traditional Hill Lists

While Sir Hugh Munro’s tables have been very popular for over a century, they have some geographic limitations. Firstly, he limited himself to Scotland. Secondly, his height criterion of 3000 feet meant that, with some notable exceptions on Skye and Mull, he limited himself to the Scottish Highlands. Even within Scotland, very prominent ranges in Applecross, Arran, Galloway, Greater Ardnamurchan, Harris, Jura, Rum and W. Sutherland were omitted.

Those who came after Munro naturally listed the less high summits, bringing in the areas that failed to qualify for Sir Hugh. The Corbett and Graham lists used similar prominence criteria but they bore no resemblance to those used in Percy Donald’s list of the Scottish Lowland hills. In England & Wales, there have been a number of attempts to categorise summits over 2000 feet. Those in most common use today are the Nuttalls and the Hewitts (which include The Irish Republic). Michael Dewey has listed the English and Welsh summits over 500m. The diagram below illustrates the fragmented nature of hill lists used in the UK.

There are two notable exceptions to this fragmented approach. In 1989, Dr Eric Yeaman produced the first metric-based hill list titled “Handbook to the Scottish Hills”. This applied a unified 100m height and prominence criterion to Scotland’s summits. In 1992, Alan Dawson produced his better known Marilyn list, which covers the whole UK also with a unified height and prominence criterion this time set at 150 metres (very close to the old 500 feet). This has now been extended to the Republic of Ireland by Clem Clements. The result is a popular list with remarkable geographic coverage including hills in Lincolnshire, Kent & E Sussex (although Cambridgeshire and Essex fail to qualify). Dawson & Clements’ height criterion of 150 metres produces a fascinating list but this includes many lower-lying hills that are not typically regarded as peaks and do not fit most definitions for classic hillwalking.

In conclusion, there is no unifying framework for classifying higher peaks in the UK, but mainly geographically fragmented lists based on height criteria in feet (or metric approximations to them).

Disjoint geography of lists

There is a need for hillwalking list framework that covers the whole of the UK (and potentially the Republic of Ireland too) with consistent but demanding criteria for peaks.