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|
Editor’s note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!