The Munros, ~1987-2014
Did you know that my Hill Lists app was written specifically for me to track my own Munros (the 282 Scottish hills at least 3000 feet in height)?
After ~27 years, I finally “compleated” them on 19th November, so thought I would write up my journey. In it I include some links to photos. You can either click on these separately, or feel free to browse them all on Twitter.
The Early Years (~1987-2002)
I can’t actually remember when I did my first Munro, other than knowing it was before we were married. We had a trip around the Highlands (a long way from Cambridge at the time) and I remember doing the Five Sisters of Kintail and Ruadh-stac Mor on Beinn Eighe. It might have been Beinn Alligin, or perhaps Cairn Gorm while there on a University ski trip.
We moved to Edinburgh in 1993 and it then became a lot easier. I carried my (then first) son up Ben Hope and Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), something I’d struggle to do now! I picked off a lot of the eastern Munros on orienteering trips to Deeside, most notable was the complete plane wreck on top of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. A good few others were climbed during family holidays (Liathach, Sgurr nan Gillean … etc). I remember spotting ring ouzels on the Aonach Eagach ridge and also on Beinn Eunaich, but haven’t seen them since.
In September 2000, my work took part in a Guinness Book of Records attempt on the most hills climbed simultaneously, where we had to be on a particular summit at midday. We did the two Munros on Buachaille Etive Mor. And yes we got the record!
Munro Bagger (2003)
I only really started counting in 2003. I did all the central Cairngorms in one trip, staying at the Falls of Avon and Corrour bothies.
The next few years saw a steady 15 per year. Loads of mountain hares on Ben Chonzie (2004). The kids made it up An Caisteal (2004) and a very boggy Ben More on Mull (2006). Spotted a male hen harrier coming off Carn Liath (2006). My worst yearly total was 6, including a wet Beinn a Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach (2008).
In 2009 things picked up again. All those beginning with F (on 21st Feb), the western Mamores and those around Bridge of Orchy. While doing the Black Mount, I almost stood on a red deer calf before it ran off to its mother. Later that day I followed a cuckoo a long way down the West Highland Way.
A family trip to Skye in 2010 to do the southern Cuillins, where I took the whole family up and over the Inaccessible Pinnacle. 2010 was the first of many trips to Cluanie, with its 20-odd Munros all in the one valley.
We had a holiday cottage in Ullapool in early 2011, and I did Beinn Dearg, the western Fannaichs and Ben More Assynt and Conival. The Etive peaks were finished after a speeding ticket going through Lochearnhead. 😦
Only 100 to Go (2012)
Going in to 2012 I had just over 100 to go. I finished the Mamores and did the remote Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch from Linn of Dee (one of my favourite places). A few days later I finished the Fannaichs. My final trip of the year involved getting the train in to Corrour station, staying at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel and doing the 5 Munros between there and Fersit, getting the train back from Tulloch. Certainly a different and romantic way to do some hills.
2013 started with the whole family doing Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach by Loch Quoich in glorious sunshine, as well as Maol Chean-dearg in Strath Carron. A similar trip north saw us doing the 7 Munros of the South Cluanie Ridge on another very hot day. After Gairich we saw a pine martin by Loch Garry, and after Beinn Sgritheall we spotted a sea eagle by the Glenelg ferry. We did the Strathfarrar Munros on a windy day, and my last trip of the year was to Culra bothy to do the Ben Alder six. I don’t know why I finished so early (July) – I guess 28 Munros was a pretty good yearly total!
A Big Push (May-September 2014)
So this brings me to 2014. I had always wanted to finish the Munros before I was 50 (next year), but with 47 to go it was going to be a stretch. Looking back at my many trips, the year has been a blur, but with some really spectacular hills. Almost all were climbed in excellent weather too. 🙂
Gulvain was the first, followed by the spectacular Sgurr na Ciche (that Loch Arkaig road is a real roller coaster). A complete Loch Mullardoch round with a very cold high camp saw me complete Glen Affric too, surely one of Scotland’s prettiest valleys? Brocken spectres on Carn Eige, a golden eagle in Knoydart, ptarmigan chicks and a merlin on Bla Bheinn, spectacular cloud inversion on a round of Corrie Laggan, the Grey Corries, the Aonachs and Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg arete, Lurg Mhor to Maoile Lunndaidh with a high overnight camp, Slioch with its goats, and finally Fisherfield with an overnight camp on the summit of A’Mhaighdean and the best sunrise ever!
“Compleation” (18-19th November 2014)
And then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. My last 3 were all near Ullapool, a long way to go if the weather wasn’t settled. I was beginning to think there was no chance before the end of the year. But then the weather gods smiled on me, with three days of sunshine forecast for the west coast. We drove north and did Seana Bhraigh from Oykel Bridge (by bike) on Tuesday 18th November. It had to be an early start as we only had 8 hours of daylight, but the weather was good, and we saw more Brocken spectres on the summit.
Finally on Wednesday 19th November, we drove to Dundonnell in the dark, and started walking at 8:30am. Apart from a tiny bit of cloud sitting on the tops (that cleared), it was a beautiful sunny day. An Teallach, with its 2 Munros, is a mountain I have read about for years. I have looked at it from all the surrounding hills, studied the pictures and I knew exactly what to expect. After an enjoyable walk up, it didn’t disappoint at all. 🙂
It would have been nice to have arranged more of a summit party, but due to my incredibly bad planning, the dubious weather and leaving such a remote hill until last, it just turned out to be too difficult. But I did get to share my moment of glory with my wife (of course). Plus the “entire” British Army on training!!
So What Next?
It will be nice to do hills and routes that I fancy doing, rather than being driven by a list. So I am really thankful there aren’t any other lists of hills to be done!
Oh, hang on …