If you want to hike in Scotland, you need to learn some basic Gaelic words so you can read a map. The maps of Scotland published by the UK’s Ordnance Survey are full of Gaelic place names like Lairg Ghru, Beinn Bhreas, and Monadh Mor. Once translated, these names can give you important clues about the terrain you are likely to encounter and how to match what you are seeing in the landscape to your map.
The most important words to lean are those that describe mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, mountain passes and notches, valleys and colors. They’re easy to pick up with a little practice and prove invaluable when route planning and navigating.
Here’s a glossary of the basic Gaelic words that you need to read an OS map of Scotland. If I’ve left out any words that you think are important to add, be sure to leave a comment.
|aonach||ridge, steep hill|
|ban, bhan||white, fair|
|beag, beg, bheag||small|
|bealach||pass, glen, gap|
|ben, beinn, bheinn||mountain, peak|
|carn||cairn, hill, pile of stones|
|cnoc||round hill, knoll|
|coire, choire||corrie, hollow|
|creag||crag, cliff, rock|
|eag, eige||notch, gap|
|fionn||white, blessed, holy|
|glas, ghlas||grey, green|
|linn||pool, pond, channel|
|mor, mhor||big, large|
|na, nam, nan||the, of, of the|
|sgurr, stob, stuc||rocky peak|
|srath, strath||wide valley|
|stob, stuib||point, stake|
|tobar, tobair, tobrach||well, spring|
|torr||hill, mountain, mound|
Written 2010.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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