Bagging Munros

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds make our feet twitch and our minds drift off to the year ahead; those crisp Spring days when we can fill our nostrils with clean air and set ourselves walking challenges. Why not do something different in 2019? How about bagging a few Munros?
The Munros are the 282 Scottish mountains that are above 3000ft (914m), named after Sir Hugh T Munro, who surveyed and catalogued them in 1891. Experienced hill walkers like to work towards collecting the full set or just the top 10 highest, or they cherry pick based on area. The challenge of climbing Munros is generally known as “bagging Munros” and most walking enthusiasts will be able to tell you how many they’ve managed so far.

How long does it take to bag all 282 Munros?

This depends on how much spare time and stamina you’ve got! The current record was set on 3rd June 2010 when Stephen Pyke took just 39 days 9 hours and 6 minutes to reach the final Munro summit cairn on Ben Hope in Sutherland. The previous record was 48 days 12 hours set by Charlie Campbell in 2000.

Top 10 highest Munros

These are the ten highest Munros in descending order:

Height Rank Name Section / Region County Height(m) Height(ft)
1 Ben Nevis 04A: Fort William to Loch Treig & Loch Leven Highland 1,345 4,411
2 Ben Macdui 08A: Cairngorms AberdeenshireMoray 1,309 4,295
3 Braeriach 08A: Cairngorms AberdeenshireHighland 1,296 4,252
4 Cairn Toul 08A: Cairngorms Aberdeenshire 1,291 4,236
5 Sgor an Lochain Uaine 08A: Cairngorms Aberdeenshire 1,258 4,127
6 Cairn Gorm 08A: Cairngorms HighlandMoray 1,245 4,084
7 Aonach Beag 04A: Fort William to Loch Treig & Loch Leven Highland 1,234 4,049
8 Aonach Mor 04A: Fort William to Loch Treig & Loch Leven Highland 1,221 4,006
9 Carn Mor Dearg 04A: Fort William to Loch Treig & Loch Leven Highland 1,220 4,003
10 Ben Lawers 02B: Glen Lyon to Glen Dochart & Loch Tay Perth and Kinross 1,214 3,983
Although the highest Munro is Ben Nevis, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the most challenging. Climbers often site the 12 peaks of the Black Cuillin on Skye, the highest of which is 3,255ft and only 154th on the list, and the UK mainland’s narrowest ridge walk, Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe which is 3,175ft and only 187th on the list, as far more challenging.

Munros: some interesting facts

  • Over 6,000 people have climbed all Munros. They are known as “compleatists” which is an archaic version of “complete” and illustrates how long-served the tradition of bagging Munros is.
  • Completions are recorded with the Scottish Mountaineering Club and compleaters are eligible to join The Munro Society.
  • Sir Hugh did not manage to complete all the summits on his list. It was the Rev. A. E Robertson who became the first person to complete The Munros in 1901.
  • The mountains are scattered all over Scotland, from Ben Lomond in the South to Ben Hope in the north, and Sgurr na Banachdich in the west to Mount Keen in the east
  • Subsidiary summits of Munros are given the status of Munro Tops, all of which are also above 3,000ft but they don’t form a separate mountain. There are 227 Munro Tops which are also recorded with the Scottish Mountaineering Club, in addition to the 282 Munros.

Are Munros suitable for less experienced walkers?

As mentioned above, the fact that Munros are all over 3,000ft doesn’t mean that less experienced walkers should avoid climbing them. Although tackling any Munro will require a fair amount of walking experience and navigation skills, Visit Scotland have identified the following as suitable for Munro beginners:
  1. Ben Lomond 3,195ft
  2. Schiehallion 3,547ft
  3. Ben Chonzie 3,054ft
  4. Ben Vorlich 3,231ft
  5. Cairn Gorm Mountain 4,084ft
  6. Mayar 3,044ft
  7. Driesh 3,106ft
  8. Mount Keen 3,080ft
  9. Broad Cairn 3,274ft
  10. Ben Wyvis 3431ft
  11. Fionn Bheinn 3061ft

What clothing and equipment will I need for bagging Munros?

It’s extremely important that you are fully prepared and equipped for bagging Munros. None of them are easy! BCH Camping can supply everything that you will need for a successful Munro experience. Here is a list of some essential items (there will be additional items needed for winter climbs which BCH Camping staff can advise you on).
Clothing:              Waterproof jacket
                                Waterproof trousers
Boots with ankle support
Walking trousers (not cotton or jeans)
Thermal base layers
Fleece top
Warm hat
Spare layer (maybe another fleece top)
Equipment:        Rucksack (probably around 35 litres)
                                Compass and map
                                Your watch
                                Head torch
                                Hand held torch
                                Food and drink
                                Survival bag
                                Storm shelter
                                First Aid kit
                                Your fully charged mobile phone (don’t rely on its GPS!)

Safety first

Bagging Munros should be an enjoyable, if challenging, experience but from time to time problems can occur. You can never foresee problems, but you can prepare for them.

  • Make sure your navigation skills are up to scratch. Your mobile phone will only provide minimal assistance on a mountain!
  • Have some level of first aid experience so that you can help yourself and others.
  • Use the services of a guide if you feel safer, but research their experience and credentials.
  • Understand the impact of weather and don’t just use the BBC National Weather forecast as your guide! Use a mountain weather guide such as the Met Office to fully understand what you will be facing.
  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for Police and Mountain Rescue. Alternatively, you can contact the 999 emergency services using a text from your mobile, but only if you have already registered with the emergency SMS text service. To register, text the word 'register' to 999 and follow the instructions you are sent in reply.

Enjoy your Munro bagging and let us know how you got on.

At BCH Camping we’re always delighted to get feedback on our blogs and hear stories of customers’ adventures. If you decide to tackle the Munros and you need any advice or would like to let us know how it went, do get in touch. It’d be great to hear from you.