A “Munro” is a Scottish mountain with a height of over 3,000 feet or 914.4 metres. They are named after Sir Hugh Munro (1856–1919), who in 1891 listed all mountains fulfilling this criterion in his Munros Tables. The Scottish Mountaineering Club revises the tables periodically. The 2009 revision resulted in a number of 283 confirmed Munros. The term “Munrobagging” describes the activity of somebody who aims at climbing all the listed Munros. The person is called a “Munrobagger”. Some people manage this feat in record time while others spend their lifetime on achieving this goal.
The height of these mountains is relatively modest, above all if compared to Alpine mountains in Central Europe. However, the Scottish climate may provide for challenging conditions, especially in winter. Also, a great number of these mountains has to be climbed starting at sea level. Every year people suffer fatal accidents.
At the same time, hill-walking and Munrobagging can be among the most pleasant Scottish outdoors experiences. Hardly surprising, there is a great variation in the difficulty of climbing them – from straightforward hill walks to demanding and tough mountain climbs. If you have never climbed a Munro before, start gently and choose an easy one.
A word of warning: Although these walks are fairly straightforward, you should never underestimate weather conditions nor leave without basic hill walking gear, including: a map, a compass, a torch, raingear and adequate footwear and clothing. Also, tell someone where you are heading and roughly when you expect to be back. If possible, avoid walking on your own.
Here is a list of 5 suggested mountains for the beginning Munrobagger:
This is one of Scotland’s most popular mountains, situated in Pertshire. It is also one of the easiest to climb. Schiehallion is a famous mountain because it was at the centre piece of an experiment by the Astronomer Royal Maskelyne back in 1774. He measured the mass of the earth by observing the deflection of a pendulum by Schiehallion’s mass. As a by-product, the experiment also resulted in the invention of contour lines by Charles Hutton.
The walk starts at the Braes of Foss car park. Most of the way you can follow an excellent path that leads you up a broad ridge. Schiehallion’s distinctive conical appearance is only visible from Loch Rannoch. The climb rewards you with excellent views across Glencoe and Rannoch Moor.
2. Carn Aosda
In terms of accessibility, this is one of the easiest Munros to get to. Start at the Glenshee Ski Area car park and follow the ski tow right up to the summit. There are two more Munros, The Cairnwell and Carna’Gheoidh that can be included in the walk.
Carn Aosda is one of the lowest Munros, with 917 metres barely making the cut. Besides, the climb starts not at sea level which means that effectively you have only 580 height metres to climb. Unfortunately, aesthetically speaking this is a rather dull and unpleasant walk. Ski tows, snow fences and vehicle tracks are responsible for the hill’s reputation as one of the most despoiled Scottish mountains.
However, it is possible to access the mountain from the A93 at the start of the track to Baddoch. This approach follows the long north ridge right up to the summit, thereby avoiding the ski area altogether.
3. Ben Lomond
This is another classic Scottish mountain. Located on the east shore of Loch Lomond and part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, it is the most southerly Munro. There is an easy tourist path starting at Rowardennan and leading all the way up the summit. Although that path is not difficult, inexperienced walkers should be careful in poor weather conditions. Its proximity to Glasgow and the relative ease of the climb make it one of the most popular Scottish mountains.
4. Bruach na Frithe
This Munro is part of the famous Black Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye. Unlike most of Skye’s Munros, Bruach na Frithe can be ascended without any particular rock climbing or scrambling abilities, although you will have to cross some steep ground and scree, fragments of broken rock. If you have heard about the spectacular Skye summits and want to give it a try, this is your best option if you are not an experienced Munrobagger. Start your ascent from the car park at Sligachan Hotel.
This Munro is part of the Grampians of Scotland. Located a few miles north of Kirriemuir in Angus, it is one of the most easterly Munros and can be easily reached from Dundee. Leave your car at the walkers’ car park in Glen Doll. The ascent is very picturesque and straightforward over moor and forestry through the Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve. Another Munro, Mayar, can be included in the walk.
Please let me know what you think of the walks! Good luck with your first Munro!