After 30+ years of visiting hills and mountains there are certain places that I return to time and time again. Maybe the walking and climbing is superb, maybe I have memories of good times there with friends and family or maybe the scenery is stunning. Here are my top 10 places in reverse order.
10. Saas Fee, Switzerland
Surrounded by 13 4000m peaks, challenging Via Ferratas and comfortable mountain huts, Saas Fee is a fun place to spend a few weeks. Saas Fee itself is touristy but not as bad as Zermatt, the facilities are good and there are wild places to be found further east towards the Simplon Pass and south towards Italy. On my last visit in 2019 I did the traverse of the Weissmiess and the Hohlaubgrat on the Allalinhorn, both great routes on 4000m peaks.
9. Zillertal/Stubaital, Austrian Tyrol.
I spent a month in the Zillertal when I was 17. I was supposed to be teaching English to an Austrian lady but in reality I learnt more German than she did English and I spent most days exploring the mountains alone. I came away from that visit with a deep love of Austria and fluent in German, neither of which have quite disappeared. Since then I have been back numerous times, both to Zillertal and also to neighbouring Stubaital. The mountains are respectable with a fair few over 3000m but the glaciers are receding making ascents more difficult. The mountain walking remains some of best in the Alps.
8. North face of Ben Nevis, Scotland
The destination for numerous winter climbing trips in my distant past either staying at the CIC hut or wild camping near by. The place has a real alpine feel to it and long routes such as Tower Ridge are alpine classics in summer as well as in winter.
7. Cuillin Hills, Skye, Scotland
The best place in the UK for scrambling and rock scenery. The traverse of the Cuillin Ridge and the scramble up the Dubhs Ridge must be two of the best routes I have ever done.
6. Lochcarron, Scotland
The west coast of Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on earth when the sun shines and the midges disappear. Lochcarron is where the mountains meet the sea and the peaks between Strathcarron and Torridon are some of my favourites.
5. Caledonian pine forests near Aviemore, Scotland
I know absolutely nothing about trees and anything I wrote about why I like the Caledonian Pines would sound pretentious. Maybe their colour or their size or their beauty. Or the feeling that they have been there forever or the peacefulness of walking through the forests. Someone will now tell me that the photo isn’t of Caledonian Pines at all and that I should stick to mountains 😀.
4. Cwm Dyli, Snowdonia
The Pinnacle Club hut in Nant Gwynant, Snowdonia. One of the few constants in my life over the last 25 years and a place that I shall always think of as home. An old stone cottage with a slate roof and the only noise the stream rushing past the door and the rain on the skylights.
3. Tryfan, Snowdonia
My favourite mountain ever since I first saw it from above Capel Curig when I was 17. So many routes up it, none of them easy and the view of it approaching from Capel along the A5 still fills me with awe.
2. Upper Eskdale, Lake District
One of the last great wildernesses in the Lake District surrounded by mighty peaks and a great place for a wild camp.
1 Ennerdale, Lake District
Not as wild as Upper Eskdale but the view westwards at sunset from a wild camp high on Gillercomb Head is for me the best view in the world.
Copyright of all text and photos – Jane Ascroft, 2020. If you like this blog, please share it 😀.