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The Munros: Introduction

Introduction & Information regarding the Scottish Munros

What are the Munros?

The Munros are a list of Scottish mountains which were named after Sir Hugh Munro who surveyed and catalogued the mountains in 1891. The Munros are all mountains over 3000ft. There are 282 Munros in total. The highest Munro is Ben Nevis standing at 4411ft. Here are the Munros listed in height order.

Who was Sir Hugh Munro?

Sir Hugh Munro was an original member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) and in 1891 he wrote an article for their journal with a definitive list of all the mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet. He created the list using maps and by taking barometer readings at the top to check the heights of mountains whose summits were of “sufficient separation” from their neighbouring tops. His original list was made up of 538 summits with 282 being “Munros”. It is not clear when these mountains first became known as Munros.

What is Munro Bagging?

Munro bagging is a popular pastime in Scotland where walking enthusiasts challenge themselves to climb as many of the Munros as they can.

The popularisation of “Munro-bagging” seems to have started with the publication of a book by Hamish Brown, Hamish’s Mountain Walk, in 1974. It documented his four-month self-propelled journey round all the Munros. By the 1980s Munro-bagging was becoming a very popular hobby. So much so that there was even a BBC series called the Munro Show presented by Muriel Gray in the early 1990s. The first person to complete the Munros is said to be the Rev. A.E Robertson of Rannoch in 1901, but there is some doubt if he did them all. The first confirmed completion (plus the tops) was in 1923 by Ronald Burn. If you're a mountain goat and want to challenge the quickest round record, set by Munroist Stephen Pyke in 2010, you'll have just 39 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes! The beauty of wanting to bag all 282 of them is that in committing to do so, you open up the opportunity to see an incredible breadth of Scotland’s outstanding and dramatic landscape. When you’ve bagged all 282 Munros, you’re considered a Munroist.

Beginner Munros

Want to get started on the Munros? Here is a list of the Munros that are considered 'easier' and suitable for beginners. I chose Ben Lomond as my first Munro since it is meant to be one of the easier Munros and so I will put that Munro at the top of my list, from experience -

  1. Ben Lomond - Together with the highest – Ben Nevis – Ben Lomond ranks as the most ascended of the Munros, and is very popular with first-time Munro-baggers, particularly at weekends when finding a space in the car park can be difficult – or impossible without an early start. The reasons are obvious – it is close to Glasgow, there is a very popular path aiding the ascent in summer, and the views over Loch Lomond and its islands are simply superb.

  2. Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) - Not to be confused with the other Ben Vorlich at Loch Lomond. The start point for this Munro is Ardvorlich and there is some verge parking near the start. It has a good path and an enjoyable walk to the summit which provides an excellent viewpoint for much of central Scotland. A trig point marks its 985 metre summit. From a distance Ben Vorlich and its neighbour Stuc a’Chroin look like twins but this is not the case, Stuc a’Chroin is a much more difficult Munro to climb and would not recommend this until more experience is gained.

  3. Ben Chonzie - Ben Chonzie is a very different hill – the highest summit of the vast area of hills and moorland between Lochs Tay and Earn. Again it is very accessible from the central belt. Although less dramatic than Ben Lomond, Ben Chonzie can make for a great walk too – look out especially for mountain hares, as Chonzie is home to a huge population of these delightful creatures. It’s also a popular choice for those making the transition from summer into winter hillwalking.

  4. Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas - Ben Lawers is one of the very highest Munros, but the high pass between Loch Tay and Glen Lyon means that walkers can begin their climb from the car park at over 400m and bring it within reach of a fairly straightforward hillwalking day. It is another hugely popular ascent, with the added bonus of taking in another Munro – Beinn Ghlas – along the way.

  5. Mount Keen - A vast dome rising out of the open countryside, Mount Keen is Scotland's most easterly Munro and ideal for beginners as it has a relatively straightforward path to the top. The simplest and quickest route is to tackle it from Glen Esk, but you also have the option of ascending via scenic Glen Tanar.

Note: Please only ever undertake hikes that are within your capabilities and assess and prepare for any risk associated with the hike that you are planning to undertake. If hillwalking when there is snow lying then an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly is required.

Most difficult Munros

These are a couple of the Munros that are considered the most difficult/ most technical -

  1. The Inaccessible Pinnacle (Black Cuillin) (pictured above)- In the heart of Skye's famed Black Cuillin range, a vertical blade of rock rests on Sgurr Dearg. Known as the 'Inaccessible Pinnacle', this intimidating fin of basalt rock is regarded not only as the hardest Munro to attain, but also the most difficult major peak in the British Isles.

  2. Ladhar Bheinn (known as Larven) - Ladhar Bheinn is the dominant mountain in Knoydart - a peninsula on Scotland's west coast not reachable by road. The mountain's topography is complex with many spurs, corries and summits and not a place to be lost in mist! The most rewarding route is via the winding path along the southern shore of Loch Hourn. Alternatively you can take a boat in from Mallaig and stay somewhere in Knoydart - beware the midges are fierce here!!

  3. Aonach Eagach - 'Mainland Britain's narrowest ridge' is how the Aonach Eagach is often billed. Running along the northern side of Glencoe, the ridge has two Munros either end - Meall Dearg and Sgor nam Fiannaidh. Regarded as a classic summer scramble, the toughest part of the ridge is the 'Crazy Pinnacles' - an exposed section with some tricky moves on sound rock. It should also be noted that there are no safe 'opt-out' routes on the south side of the ridge between Meall Dearg and Stob Coire Leith!

If you have any questions about the Munros or anything else then please do use the contact form to drop me a line, I will get back to you as soon as possible. You can follow my adventures live over on my Instagram @hiker_heather


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