Aber Camp : Camp built by members of Glasgow HF on land at Gartocharn near shores of Loch Lomond in 1953.

Alba : Gaelic for Scotland .

Aonach : Narrow ridge , ie Aonach Eagach


Bealach: A pass, often crossing a low point between hills. Sometimes referred to as a Col.

Bearing: If using a compass to navigate by a bearing or number would be read in conjunction with a map, when this reading (number) is followed for a set time or distance it should lead you along your chosen course. This particularly useful in bad weather or whiteout conditions.

Bivouac: An overnight stay in the mountains with minimal equipment; may be voluntary or involuntary due to accident, nightfall, bad conditions etc.

Bivvy-bag: This can be as simple as a large plastic bag costing very little carried on hills and usually used in an emergency if caught out in an unplanned overnight stay on the hill.

Bothy: Old buildings, sometime an old crofters or shepards dwelling. Mainly used by walkers to shelter from bad weather are free to use and are maintained by volunteers. Very basic inside with not much in the way of  furniture, you will probably have to carry your own food, drink, bedding (sleeping on the floor) and fuel for the fire or stove.

Brocken spectre: A natural weather phenomenon very rarely seen on hills. Specific conditions are required to produce this effect. The walker standing on a hill would require the sun behind them and casting a shadow onto a veil of mist in front of them, this would result in a rainbow halo effect around the walker’s shadow.


Cairn: A pile of rocks from very small of a half dozen stones to very large over one-metre-tall marking a path and sometime but not always the top of a hill.

Col: The low point on a ridge between two peaks.

Compass bearing: A direction given as an angle relative to magnetic north.

Contour: A line joining points of equal height on a map. This makes it easy to see the shape of hills.

Coire: This a hollow in a mountain side which sometimes has a small pool of water (Lochan)at its foot. This is from the Gaelic language which is found marking many place name on maps of the central belt of Scotland.

Corbett: A hill over 2500 feet with a descent of 500 feet on all sides. See Key-Facts.

Cornice: Usually formed when wind blows a build-up of snow over the edge of a hill edges or narrow crest.

Crampon: Spiked metal attachment tied to the walkers boots with straps to enable walking on ice and hard packed snow.


Daysack: A small light rucksack, suitable for short walks.

Distress Signal: Britain uses the International Alpine Distress Signal. Using a torch or whistle, give six signals in fairly quick sequence, wait one minute and repeat.

Donald: A hill over 2000 feet high in the Scottish Lowlands, originally listed by P. Donald.

Driech : Wet , gloomy dismal weather

Drumkinnon Camp : A camp built by members of The Glasgow Group of Holiday Fellowship in 1926


Fellowship : Friendly association especially with people who share the same interests .

Fleece: A man made material used in jackets gloves hats and scarves, dries very quickly, is lightweight and warm.

Frostbite: If poorly protected skin or bare skin is exposed to very cold or severe cold weather the skin circulation is interrupted resulting in numb feeling and possible loss of fingers or toes.


Gabbro: Rough, crystalline igneous rock forming much of the Cuillin Ridge in Skye. Generally dark brown or black in colour.

Gaiters: Worn over the lower part of the leg around the calves, good for keeping snow, stones and mud out of your boots.

Glen: Scottish term for a valley.

Granite: An igneous rock forming much of the Cairngorm mountains and other hills in Scotland. Generally, gray in colour and crystalline.

Grid reference: A grid reference is a way of specifying a location in the United Kingdom. Each area in a 1: 50 000 map is subdivided into one kilometre squares. Using these squares, mentally divided into tenths, a location can be quoted as a six-figure grid reference accurate to 100m.


Haugh : Land beside a river

Hillwalking: Usually describes walking up or around hills for the enjoyment of the outdoors, does not usually include technical climbing.

Howff : Regular meeting place , usually a pub .

Hypothermia: A sometimes fatal condition experienced in severely cold temperatures when the body’s core temperature falls dangerously low due to exposure, sometime to wind chill and not wearing proper protective clothing against extreme elements.


Ice Axe: A long handled axe used when walking over snow and ice, usually used in conjunction with crampons. Used for stopping the walker from falling or sliding down an Icey or snowy slope, known as an ice axe arrest.


Loan : A cattle track

Loch: A large expanse of enclosed water including sea lochs which open directly onto the sea.

Lochan: A small inland loch

Layer Principle: The most common way of wearing clothing for the mountains is to wear three or more layers, each with their specific function. From base layer next to skin to outer garments then we find: underwear, not only to keep warm, but to help wick moisture from perspiration away from the body; a shirt or fleece zipped top for warmth; a fleece jacket for warmth sometimes wind proof ; and an outer shell, which is wind and waterproof. Most of these garments are man made synthetic material although merino wool is popular as a base layer next to the skin .

Lightning: Very rarely a hazard in Scotland, you will be relieved to hear. An approaching electrical storm is normally accompanied by thunder, heavy rain, extra static in the air. Leave high and exposed points before it hits.


Magnetic variation/declination: The difference between true north and magnetic north. About 2° to 4° west (in 2016) throughout much of Scotland.

Midge: An annoying little biting insect very prevalent in the highlands of Scotland, particularly on the west coast. Harmless to most people but other can have an allergic reaction. Various sprays are available to counteract the effect of these pests as well as nets to cover your head and face with.

Mountain rescue: A  rescue service operated by volunteers and usually under the control of the local police force and very often backed up by the R.A.F for major search and rescue missions requiring helicopters .

Mor/Mhor : Big or large , ie Buchaille Etive Mhor

Munro: A hill included in Munro's tables. Approximately, this means distinct peaks over 3000 ft high.


Pass: A low point between to mountains, usually part of an easy walking route.

Plateau: A large flat area of ground sometimes found at the top of a hill but also can be found below the summit.

Pre decimal currency : Before 1971 , Britain use the following form of currency :-

Pound : A coin known as a Sovereign and contained gold , also known as a 'quid'

Shilling : A coin , also known as 'one bob' ,  20 shillings made 1 pound . Three shillings written as 3'/-  was the cost of the entry fee and annual subscription to The Glasgow Group of Holiday Fellowship in 1930. The cost of an Ordnance Survey Map in 1930 was 3'/-  . A 2 shilling coin was known as a florin .

Sixpence : A coin containing silver , also known as a 'tanner' . The cost to stay at the clubs Drumkinnon Camp at Loch Lomond in 1926 was 2 shillings and sixpence , written as 2'/6 , this amount was also called a half crown .

Penny : A coin , 12 pennies made 1 shilling . The cost of the clubs newsletter issued quarterly in 1928 was 3 pennies ,written as 3d . The 'd' denotes 'denarius' derived from Roman currency . The cost of a bar of chocolate in 1930 was 2d ( 2 pennies). The cost of tram travel in Glasgow to any terminus in 1930 was 2d .


Ridge: A narrow strip of rock sometimes called an arête connecting two hills. This can be precariously narrow particularly on Skye Cuillin ridge.

Rucksack: A word derived from German use. Used to carry all equipment for a day or more walking, they can be any size from 10Litres to 65Litres for major expeditions and wild camping.


Saddle: A saddle is a low col.

Scramble: Using hands to scale a rocky outcrop on part of walk without technical equipment.

Scree: Very small shards of broken rock on a hillside formed a result of weathering and erosion. Can make walking uphill on this type of terrain very difficult and tiring.

Smir : Light drizzly mist like rain

Spindrift: Beautiful, if sometimes uncomfortable presence of dry snow being blown into air-borne plumes and banners. Very uncomfortable if coming down a gully when you are going up the gully. Seeks out any tiny gap in clothing and melts immediately on contact with warm skin. If you see such a plume of snow blowing from a mountain summit, you know the high weather is severe.

Spot height: The height of a specific location marked on a map. Often this will be somewhere like the summit of a mountain.

Stile: A wooden step used for crossing over fences and walls.

Stravaig : To wander about aimlessly .


Tramp : To walk with a firm heavy step .

Traverse: A long walk at height, often connecting several summits. Outstanding Scottish traverse is that of the Cuillin Ridge in Skye. Can also mean a short section on a hillside where one cuts directly across a steep slope . Also known as contouring, as one is taking the line of a contour or line on a map marking points on a slope at the same height.

Trig point: Triangulation pillar a static concrete pillar used as a permanent survey station used by ordinance survey for marking position height and distance of other hills as well as positions of other landscape features.


Verglas: A covering of ice on rock, usually very thin and hard to spot and very dangerous to walk on.


White out: When falling snow or thick mist can obliterate the features on the ground, in fact it can reduce visibility to virtually zero making it difficult to even locate your walking companions, very hazardous walking conditions and good navigation skills and experience required.

Wind-chill: Very much a problem when walking in Scotland. In cold temperature wind chill can be a very dangerous situation to find oneself in with a cold wind buffeting the body, without the proper protective layers on it can prove potentially fatal.

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