I recently read some comments on the Guardian website concerning the definition of a mountain. Someone took exception to anyone calling any UK uplands "mountains". They were s/he felt, merely hills. [To be fair, the poster was mollified by someone suggesting "fell" as an appropriate alternative].
Which got me thinking. Firstly about why I reacted so badly to that view and later about what makes a mountain [and no, tectonics weren't what I meant]. I seem to recall that UK mountains were once defined as such if they exceeded 2,000ft, but I have no idea where that came from.
So, people, what do you think defines a UK mountain? Height? Location? Ruggedness? A combination of factors? Something else entirely?
You know a mountain when you see it. Height isn't relevant.
This is a mountain, even though it is just over 2000ft.
There are 'lumps' higher, but they aren't mountains.
Speaking for myself (and disregarding any 'official' definition), I tend to agree with Wainwright. In his introductory remarks on Scafell Pike, AW writes:
"The difference between a hill and a mountain depends on appearance, not on altitude (whatever learned authorities may say to the contrary) and is thus arbitary and a matter of personal opinion. Grass predominates on a hill, rock on a mountain. A hill is smooth, a mountain rough. <snip> Roughness and ruggedness are the necessary attributes ..."
Recently, I visited Skye and on one of the days went up the Great Stone Chute to Sgurr Alasdair. I know the range is called the Cuillin Hills but if "roughness and ruggedness are the necessary attributes" then as far as I'm concerned the Cuillins are indeed mountains.
Similarly, standing in the amphitheatre of Hollowstones gazing in awe at the grandeur of the towering crags below Scafell, 'mountain' is the word that springs to my mind. Rock scenery like that is simply not my idea of a 'hill'.
The Cotswolds, the Chilterns, the Mendips - those are hills.
Include a little history in your walks. Pecsaetan - Ancient Derbyshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire - http://pecsaetan.weebly.com/
There are no mountains near where I live.
Lots of fells... lots of really excellent fells...
But no mountains.
Fell = Old Norse for 'mountain'. Works for me!
A quick look online says "... large steep hill characterized by remoteness and inaccessibility."
Oxford English Dictionary says: "A natural elevation of the earth's surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relative to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable."Other more formal definitions of a mountain include:1) Height over base of at least 2,500 m (8,202 ft);2) Height over base of 1,500–2,500 m with a slope greater than 2 degrees3) Height over base of 1,000 m – 1,500 m with a slope greater than 5 degrees4) Local elevation greater than 300m (984 ft)Me, I'll stick with Wainwright (see post above)
"Large steep hill, characterised by remoteness and inaccessibility"
..... Snowdon has a station on the top so it's pretty accessible, so not a mountain?
I've been on mountains 10,000ft higher than Snowdon... and still found things like railway stations and car parks on top!
Peregrine Chan MacSproat? wrote (see)
I would even incurr the wrath of many Munro baggers by saying quite a few of the Munro's aren't mountains, even though they are over 3,000ft.
I go by what the 'locals' call it, or a map.
No matter how steep or not, rugged or not. If the locals call it a mountain, or a map names it as a mountain, that is what I'll call it.
Even if I think it's a bit of a streach calling it so.
It seems unlikely that there is a definition of either a mountain or a hill that is universally accepted. My copy of The Penguin Dictionary of Geography describes a mountain thus:A mass of land considerably higher than its surroundings, and of greater altitude than a hill; in Britain an eminence is often considered o be a mountain rather than a hill when its elevation from foot to summit exceeds 1000 feet, but the distinction is arbitrary. The summit of a mountain is small in proportion to the area of its base; in this respect it differs from a plateau, which might be of similar elevation...The same book defines a hill as:A small proportion of the earth's surface elevated above its surroundings, of lower eminence than a mountain...And a fell as:Chiefly in northern England, a bare uncultivated hill or mountain.There is no entry for either ben or beinn.
>It seems unlikely that there is a definition of either a mountain or a hill that is universally accepted.
I think you're right. The Dictionary of Geography (Geddes and Grosset, 1997) describes a mountain as a hill more than 2000ft high, which is rather vague!
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