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Fiona bagging: Great winter walks in Scotland

Written by Fiona

January 28 2024

Scotland is blessed with an incredible landscape of hills and mountains. Many people enjoy ticking off lists of the summits, including Munros (Scottish mountains of at least 3000ft /914m height)  and Corbetts (between 2500ft and 3000ft / 762m and 914m). There are other hill lists and these include the Fionas (Grahams) and Donalds. Recently, I’ve enjoyed a few adventures to bag Fionas.

What are the Fionas?

There is a bit of a story here. The hills of between 2000ft (609m) and 2500ft (762m), with a 500ft (150m) prominence,  were first listed as “Grahams” by Alan Dawson in The Relative Hills of Britain, published by Cicerone Press in 1992. The list was named after Fiona Torbet (nee Graham) (1931-1993).

Both Alan and Fiona had been ticking off hills of 2000ft stature across the UK and then came together to formalise a list. 

Fiona’s initial list had included 244 hills, all in the Highlands, with a distance qualification used as well as relative height. In the revised version of the Grahams from early 1993 onwards, 34 were added to her list – 22 in southern Scotland and the Ochils, plus 12 that had been overlooked – while 54 hills that had less than 150m drop were removed. 

As a side note, in the Scottish Lowlands, the hills of 2000ft to 25000ft height are called Donalds. They were defined in 1935 by Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) member Percy Donald. 

Anyway, the Grahams story continues: In the early 1990s, aged just 62, Fiona Talbot was murdered. while staying at a Highlands B&B for one of her frequent walking holidays.

Meanwhile, Alan continued to maintain the list of Grahams. From 1995 to 2014 there were 224 Grahams. There were a few changes in the following years as hills were more accurately measured and the list became 219.

Then in 2022, Alan decided to change the defined height of the Grahams from 2000ft (609.6m) to a metric height of 600m. There is now a list of 231 Grahams defined as Scottish hills between 600m and 762m in height, with a minimum prominence, or drop, of 150m.

Not everyone agreed with the change in the definition, including a prominent walking routes website Walk Highlands, which decided to stick with the previous imperial definition  and now refers to the Old Grahams as Fionas.

Given my name, I rather like the idea of bagging Fionas.

Bagging Fionas with friends.

Fiona bagging: 3 hikes, four Fionas

I have been busy bagging Fionas recently. In winter, when cloud is low or it is windy, the lower summits of 2000ft to 2500ft can offer a more sensible outing, compared to the higher Corbetts and Munros.

There are also plenty of Fionas to walk and run fairly close to my Highlands home and they provide a new list to focus on.


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