Earth’s majestic mountains range from the mini-Himalayas of Wiltshire’s Malvern Hills to the European Alpes and the Himalayas (the highest mountains on earth are actually under the sea in Hawaii). A mountain is just a hill, that is over 600 metres.
Nearly all of England’s highest mountains are in Cumbria (home to The Lake District), but none of our mountains are higher than those in north Wales or Scotland. We do have the Cheviot Hills (north of Hadrian’s Wall) which border Scotland and the Pennines, often referred to as ‘the backbone of England’. These are not high (more like hills) and stretch 200 miles.
If you like walking in the mountains, National Trust has good safety tips (wear layers, quality mountain boots and carry essentials (map, compass, whistle, torch). Serious climbers should wear a helmet, and check the weather before you go (walk at the pace of the slowest person).
Mountain-trekking is pretty risky, if you start going up high mountains. Over 300 climbers have died trying to scale Mount Everest (too difficult to bring the bodies down, it’s called ‘Rainbow Bridge’ due to those who didn’t make it, remaining frozen in their brightly-coloured jackets in the snow). And in Europe, avalanches are a serious issue (Pontius Pilates – the Roman official who ordered Jesus Christ to be crucified is believed to be buried on a Swiss mountain). And what of the Yeti in the Himalayas? It’s now believed to simply be different sightings of 3 very different bears, who roam these parts (Asian black, Tibetan brown and Himalayan brown bears). In North America, the Rocky Mountains stretch 300 miles from British Columbia to Alberta in Canada, and down to New Mexico in the US.
Wildlife abound in the world’s mountains: from mountains goats to lions (which rarely attack humans). In Tibet, poor yaks are transported up mountains with dead bodies on their spines, so Buddhist monks can chop up limbs to throw to local vultures).
So how we can help mountains? The best way is to live simply: don’t pollute and take rubbish with you. Leave wildlife alone. If you live near the borders, The Mountains and the People have volunteers who do practical work, or you can adopt a path. Here are some nice books:
- Mountains: A World of Wonder is an illustrated guide to the world’s mountains, from Tibet to America to China.
- From a Mountain in Tibet is the story of a Buddhist monk who lives in Scotland. However he grew up in a quiet Tibetan village, escaping after the uprising, landing in India as one of just 13 survivors.
- The Living Mountain has been called a masterpiece of nature writing. Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Scottish Cairngorms.
- The Secret Life of the Mountain Hare also takes us over the border to these shy and charming creatures, which can run like the wind. They are at risk from shooters on grouse estates, as they carry ticks.