Over 17 years have passed since I first completed my first munro aged 16, climbing Ben Lomond with a family friend. At the time I didn’t know really what a munro was or how many existed. It certainly didn’t entered my imagination that I would begin to make an attempt to summit all of them.
Recently I completed climbing my 100th munro summit in Beinn A’Ghlo, near Pitlochry in Scotland. Becoming a munro centurion feels like a good moment to take a pause and look back on the journey so far.
Time stand still
Life works in cycles. My first munro in Ben Lomond led to three or four more but the focus was on lower level walking and longer routes, such as the West Highland Way. I hadn’t come across the term munro bagging at that point and the popularity of hitting the hills wasn’t something most teenagers discussed.
By my late twenties I began to revisit some old memories and build up both my personal fitness and mental health. An organised climb of Ben Nevis with some work colleagues for charity reawakened my love of the hills. Despite the lack of view near the summit and the thousands of people on the mountain that day it was good to be back.
After almost a ten year lay off I had reignited my interest in the mountains and outdoor pursuits. More munros followed, mostly as a solo walker and I quickly became hooked on the addiction of munro bagging. Only a fellow addict / munro bagger can understand the fitness, mental strength and determination needed to plan and execute making it to the summit of one of these Scottish mountains over 3000ft.
Hitting number 100 I now have a further 182 to savour before I can claim to have completed my round. Some rush through them in a year or two, others take a lifetime or maybe never finish them at all. The story and timeline I will leave behind is uncertain but it will be an adventure finding out as the journey continues.
1 to 100 summits
Beinn A’Ghlo is a range of hills near Loch Moraig near Pitlochry in Perthshire Scotland. Containing three munro summits its an excellent but longer day out in the mountains. With a distance of 22km and over 1200m ascent, it is more challenging hike but could be made easier by using a mountain bike on the approach roads.
On my visit I was fortunate to have both dry weather and excellent visibility, making for the perfect conditions to reach 100 summits. The terrain consists of largely grass slopes, with some small sections covered by bog and thinly lying snow. Progress to the first summit is straight forward along a well made mountain path, followed by a broad ridge walk out to the second munro peak. A small amount of descent is then made to the bealach before approaching the third and final summit. The return route to the car is a further 8km along fairly flat ground, adding to the day light time required to complete the circuit.
Views are fantastic from the munro summits across Glen Tilt and beyond. I would recommend spending more time in the area if you can as Loch Moraig is particularly picturesque. Wildlife seems to be everywhere, I came across a huge variety on my hike including; mountain hares, oyster catchers, ravens and deer. If time permits consider camping overnight to reduce the rush in the morning. I made good use of my converted car camper, making it only a short two mile drive to the starting point, instead of a three hour drive.
Getting to 100 munro summits unless you a Royal Marine or fell runner doesn’t happen over night. Over the years I’ve met some great people in the mountains of Scotland and had amazing experiences that will last a lifetime. I will always appreciate the sense of freedom offered by being able to disconnect from a world that is now online 24/7. I’ve enjoyed my time in the great outdoors but there are of course highlights you will always look back on.
An Teallach / Fisherfields
The Dundonnel and Fisherfield Forest covers a large mountainous area within Wester Ross. With a well earned nickname The Last Great Wilderness, this is one of the remotest yet stunning and unspoilt areas of the United Kingdom. Access is easiest by taking the A9 north of Inverness and then the A835 in the direction of Kinlochewe.
In the area there are some of the most famous mountains in the United Kingdom. An Teallach, which can be climbed from Dundonnell contains two summits of munro status and is an excellent option for those looking for a technical scramble with its pinnacle ridge. To the south of the area, the group of five munros known as the Fisherfield Five, offer the ultimate challenge in fitness and navigation. The entry requirement being either an 18 hour day of continuous hiking with ascent over 2000m or an overnight wild camp within the remotest grid square in the United Kingdom mainland.
Glenshee Mountain Biking
The idea was to put the mountains into mountain biking with my first munro summit on two wheels. Why do one when you can do four? The plan was to take on four munros located beside the ski centre in Glenshee, sitting south east in the Cairngorms National Park Scotland. These include summits Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Glas Maol and Creag Leacach. With a distance of around 13 miles and ascent of 900m its a good option, as the terrain is fairly flat between the four summits once you climbed onto the plateau making for good progress. Want to try it yourself? Then check out my field report.
Summit camping Ben Lawers
Any list of munro highlights wouldn’t be complete without a summit camp. My first took place in the Lawers mountain range and was a perfect introduction. Epic sunset, early morning on the summit cairn and excellent visibility. You can’t get much better than being the first person to the top and having a whole mountain to yourself, with views of Loch Tay and beyond. If you haven’t already, definitely add a summit camp to your munro bucket list.
Onwards and upwards
Whats next for me in my munro journey? Well the next target is 50% completion by the end of the year. Planning is underway with options including; the abandoned Knoydart trip from last year, Skye, Torridon, Mull and Northern Cairngorms, to name but a few. Its fair to say there are plenty of mountains to keep me busy for some time. If you would like to join me for the trip please subscribe to the newsletter or follow me on the social media links above.
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