The ‘Busiest’ Summits

In the last post I listed our twenty favourite mountains in the Top 500 Summits. Two of these summits, Snowdon and Ben Nevis, also feature in the six most popular mountains in Britain and Ireland.

It is difficult to obtain accurate information on the numbers of people climbing any individual summit in Britain and Ireland. There is no device clocking numbers of walkers near the top of any summit . Long may that continue!

To the best of my knowledge, having regard to figures on the internet and numbers of people on the summits, the most popular summits in Britain and Ireland are as follows.

  1. Snowdon (375,000 by foot and an estimated 200,000 more by train)

Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, seems to be the clear winner presumably because it is much more accessible to the majority of the population than Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain and Ireland) or Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England). It is also higher than Scafell Pike and indeed the highest mountain in the British Isles outside of Scotland. The cafe at the top and high start at Pen- y-Pass probably adds to its popularity.



Pen y Fan in the Brecons

Pen y Fan in the Brecons

2. Pen y Fan (250,000 per year)

Some people will be surprised to see Pen y Fan (also in Wales) at number two in the popularity stakes but  this appears to be the case. Pen y Fan’s popularity derives from being the most accessible mountain in Britain and closest to the major population centres in the South of England. There is a high start from the A470 in the Brecon Beacons and a good path, in danger of erosion, runs to the summit.

3= Ben Nevis (150,000 per year)

It is very difficult to split the next three mountains which are all popular and at any time in the summer up to 100 visitors can be seen on their summits. Ben Nevis derives its popularity from being the highest mountain in Britain but it is a hard slog, over 4,000 feet of climbing, to the summit. Large numbers of people can be seen ascending Ben Nevis late on Friday and Saturday evenings in the summer as part of the three peaks challenge (Ben Nevis, Snowdon, and Scafell Pike).

Tower Ridge

Less crowded on Tower Ridge.

Scafell Pike

A Typical summer day on Scafell Pike

3= Scafell Pike (150,000 per year)

Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and one of the British three peaks challenge. This is a popular 24 hour challenge in the summer months. Scafell Pike is not particularly accessible with a long drive to Wasdale Head, the best place to start the ascent, perhaps putting a few people off climbing it.

3= Helvellyn (150,000 per year)

Helvellyn competes with Scafell Pike as the most climbed mountain in the Lake District and therefore England. Walkers seem to reach the summit in similar numbers to Scafell Pike. Although not one of the ‘Three Peaks’ Helvellyn was voted Britain’s favourite walk in a recent poll in January 2018. It is certainly a magnificent walk from Patterdale. Walkers should take care on Helvellyn as its ridges can be dangerous, particularly in winter.

Striding Edge, Helvellyn

Striding Edge on Helvellyn

Croagh Patrick

Car Park at the foot of Croagh Patrick

6. Croagh Patrick (100,000 per year)

Croagh Patrick is generally regarded as Ireland’s most climbed mountain, comfortably ahead of Carrauntoohil, the country’s highest mountain. Around 30,000 pilgrims make the ascent of Croagh Patrick during the last weekend in July and there is a regular stream of visitors throughout the rest of the year. There is a chapel at the 2,500 foot summit.