- A General Overview
- Full List of the Hills
- Useful Links
- My Personal Journey
- The Big Tours
- Trips on my Own
- Completing the Tops
A General Overview
The Munros are generally recognized by the classification set out by Sir Hugh Munro which detailed over 500 separate hills in Scotland over 3,000 foot high. He separated his list in to main and subsidiary summits so in effect there are 2 lists now commonly referred to as the Munros and the Tops. Over the years the lists have been tampered with by the Scottish Mountaineering Club and its associates either due to errors in the actual heights of the hills recognized by the Ordnance Survey or a more arbitrary re-classification based upon ‘fairness’. Whether we have all approved of these changes is almost irrelevant but we are now left with 283 Munros and 225 Tops. The Munros is the main challenge but a Top Tip is not to miss out on some of the nearby Tops when you are up there – once completed you may find the desire to return to many of the summits and tick the Tops. I did, as did Hamish Brown (the most famous Munroist) with 6 complete rounds to his credit issued his now infamous comment.” when someone tells me if they have done the Munros I ask them if they have competed the Tops as well”. Hamish’s Grand Slam is the Munros, Tops and Furth (3,000 foot mountains in England, Wales and Ireland) – a worthy challenge!
In these Munro pages I have included some excellent books on the subject including what is commonly known as the ‘bible’, a personal account of my Munros and a downloadable table with all the Munros on for your own personal records.
There have been many worthy books written about the Munros but the following 2 are essential purchases:
The Munros: Published by the SMC this is commonly known as the ‘bible’ for Munroists with excellent day walks detailed to all 283 summits.
Hamish’s Mountain Walk by Hamish Brown. Although published in 1975 this is still the best account of climbing the Munros. Hamish did this in one single journey but the true worth of this book is how he captures the pleasure of just walking in the higher lands of Scotland. Buy Book
www.smc.org is the official web site of the Scottish Mountaineering Club with, amongst other information a list of all compleaters
Full List of Munros
|Height (ms)||Height (ft)||1/50,000 Map||Ref trig point|
|Section 1||Loch Lomond to Loch Tay|
|16||Ben More||1174||3849||51||432 244|
|18||Stob Binnein||1165||3820||51/57||434 226|
|27||Ben Lui||1130||3705||50||266 263|
|85||Cruach Ardrain||1046||3430||50/51/56||409 211|
|101||Ben Oss||1029||3374||50||287 253|
|118||Beinn Ime||1011||3315||56||255 085|
|147||An Caisteal||995||3262||50/56||379 193|
|163||Ben Vorlich||985||3230||51/57||629 189|
|174||Beinn Dubhchraig||978||3207||50||308 255|
|178||Stuc a’ Chroin||975||3197||51/57||617 175|
|182||Ben Lomond||974||3193||56||367 029|
|216||Beinn Bhuidhe||948||3108||50||204 187|
|220||Beinn Tulaichean||946||3102||56||416 196|
|229||Ben Vorlich||943||3092||50/56||295 123|
|231||Beinn a’ Chroin||942||3089||50/56||394 186|
|244||Beinn Chabhair||933||3059||50/56||367 180|
|249||Ben Chonzie||931||3052||51/52||773 309|
|258||Beinn Narnain||926||3036||56||272 067|
|280||Beinn a’ Chleibh||916||3003||50||251 256|
|282||Ben Vane||915||3000||56||278 098|
|Section 2||Loch Tay to Rannoch Moor|
|10||Ben Lawers||1214||3980||51||636 414|
|34||An Stùc||1118||3666||51||639 430|
|35||Meall Garbh||1118||3666||51||644 437|
|47||Bheinn Ghlas||1103||3616||51||626 404|
|61||Beinn a’ Chreachain||1081||3544||50||373 441|
|62||Ben Heasgarnich||1078||3534||51||413 383|
|64||Ben Dorain||1076||3528||50||326 378|
|67||Meall Corranaich||1069||3505||51||616 410|
|83||Creag Mhòr||1047||3433||50/51||391 361|
|89||Meall nan Tarmachan||1044||3423||51||585 390|
|91||Càrn Mairg||1041||3413||51||684 512|
|93||Meall Ghaordie||1039||3407||51||514 397|
|94||Beinn Achaladair||1038||3403||50||344 432|
|102||Càrn Gorm||1029||3374||51||635 501|
|106||Ben Challum||1025||3361||50||386 322|
|129||Beinn an Dothaidh||1004||3292||50||332 408|
|135||Meall Greigh||1001||3282||51||674 438|
|167||Meall nan Aighean||981||3216||51||695 496|
|186||Meall Garbh||968||3174||51||646 517|
|195||Stuchd an Lochain||960||3148||51||483 449|
|198||Meall Glas||959||3144||51||431 322|
|210||Beinn Mhanach||953||3125||50||373 412|
|248||Meall Buidhe||932||3056||51||498 499|
|259||Meall a’ Choire Leith||926||3036||51||612 439|
|269||Sgiath Chùil||921||3020||51||462 317|
|Section 3||Strath Orchy to Loch Leven|
|23||Bidean nam Bian||1150||3770||41||143 542|
|31||Ben Cruachan||1126||3692||50||069 304|
|45||Meall a’ Bhuiridh||1108||3633||41||251 503|
|54||Stob Ghabhar||1090||3574||50||230 455|
|63||Ben Starav||1078||3534||50||126 427|
|65||Stob Coire Sgreamhach||1072||3515||41||155 536|
|90||Stob Coir’ an Albannaich||1044||3423||50||169 442|
|107||Sgorr Dhearg||1024||3357||41||056 558|
|109||Stob Dearg||1022||3351||41||223 543|
|136||Sgorr Dhonuill||1001||3282||41||040 555|
|141||Stob Diamh||998||3272||50||095 308|
|144||Glas Bheinn Mhor||997||3269||50||153 429|
|148||Sgor na h-Ulaidh||994||3259||41||111 518|
|155||Beinn Eunaich||989||3243||50||136 328|
|171||Beinn a’ Chochuill||980||3213||50||110 328|
|187||Sgorr nam Fiannaidh||967||3170||41||141 583|
|196||Beinn nan Aighenan||960||3148||50||149 405|
|199||Beinn Fhionnlaidh||959||3144||50||095 498|
|200||Stob Dubh||958||3141||41||179 535|
|205||Stob na Broige||956||3134||41||191 526|
|211||Meall Dearg||953||3125||41||161 584|
|224||Stob a’ Choire Odhair||945||3098||50||258 461|
|237||Beinn Sgulaird||937||3072||50||053 461|
|252||Meall nan Eun||928||3043||50||192 449|
|262||Stob Coire Raineach||925||3033||41||191 548|
|Section 4||Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht|
|1||Ben Nevis||1343||4403||41||166 713|
|7||Aonach Beag||1234||4046||41||196 715|
|8||Aonach Mor||1221||4003||41||193 730|
|9||Carn Mor Dearg||1220||4000||41||177 722|
|15||Stob Choire Claurigh||1177||3859||41||262 738|
|25||Ben Alder||1148||3764||42||496 718|
|28||Binnein Mor||1130||3705||41||212 663|
|37||Stob Coire an Laoigh||1116||3659||41||240 725|
|38||Aonach Beag||1116||3659||42||458 742|
|39||Stob Coire Easain||1115||3656||41||308 730|
|46||Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin||1105||3623||41||316 736|
|48||Beinn Eibhinn||1102||3613||42||449 733|
|51||Sgurr a’ Mhaim||1099||3603||41||165 667|
|52||Sgurr Choinnich Mor||1094||3587||41||228 714|
|56||Beinn a’ Chlachair||1087||3564||42||471 781|
|74||Na Gruagaichean||1056||3462||41||203 652|
|80||Geal Charn||1049||3439||42||504 812|
|86||Chno Dearg||1046||3430||41||377 741|
|98||Carn Dearg||1034||3390||42||504 764|
|99||Am Bodach||1032||3384||41||176 651|
|112||Beinn Bheoil||1019||3341||42||517 717|
|120||Sgurr Eilde Mor||1010||3311||41||231 658|
|138||Stob Ban||999||3275||41||148 654|
|165||An Gearanach||982||3220||41||187 670|
|168||Stob Coire a’ Chairn||981||3216||41||185 661|
|172||Stob Coire Sgriodain||979||3210||41||356 744|
|176||Stob Ban||977||3203||41||266 724|
|208||Sgor Gaibhre||955||3131||42||444 674|
|230||Binnein Beag||943||3092||41||222 677|
|232||Carn Dearg||941||3085||42||418 661|
|234||Mullach nan Coirean||939||3079||41||122 662|
|241||Beinn na Lap||935||3066||41||376 696|
|264||Creag Pitridh||924||3030||42||488 814|
|Section 5||The Drumochter Mountains|
|119||Beinn Udlamain||1011||3315||42||579 739|
|154||Sgairneach Mhor||991||3249||42||599 731|
|179||A’ Mharconaich||975||3197||42||604 763|
|214||Meall Chuaich||951||3118||42||716 879|
|233||Carn na Caim||941||3085||42||677 822|
|240||A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag||936||3069||42||661 776|
|Section 6||Grampians: Blair Atholl to Braemar|
|32||Carn nan Gabhar||1121||3675||43||971 733|
|66||Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain||1070||3508||43||946 724|
|79||Glas Tulaichean||1051||3446||43||051 760|
|88||Beinn Iutharn Mhor||1045||3426||43||045 792|
|103||Carn an Rìgh||1029||3374||43||028 772|
|124||Beinn Dearg||1008||3305||43||853 778|
|126||An Sgarsoch||1006||3298||43||933 836|
|149||Carn an Fhidhleir||994||3259||43||905 842|
|180||Carn Liath||975||3197||43||936 698|
|181||Carn a’ Gheoidh||975||3197||43||107 767|
|192||Carn a’ Chlamain||963||3157||43||916 758|
|221||Carn Bhac||946||3102||43||051 832|
|227||An Socach||944||3095||43||079 799|
|245||The Cairnwell||933||3059||43||135 773|
|279||Carn Aosda||917||3007||43||134 792|
|Section 7||Glenshee to Mount Keen|
|42||Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach||1110||3639||44||226 845|
|69||Glas Maol||1068||3502||43||166 765|
|71||Cairn of Claise||1064||3489||43||185 789|
|84||Carn an t-Sagairt Mor||1047||3433||44||208 843|
|113||Carn an Tuirc||1019||3341||43||174 804|
|117||Cairn Bannoch||1012||3318||44||223 825|
|142||Broad Cairn||998||3272||44||240 815|
|157||Creag Leacach||987||3236||43||155 745|
|203||Tom Buidhe||957||3138||44||214 788|
|235||Mount Keen||939||3079||44||409 869|
|Section 8||The Cairngorms|
|2||Ben Macdui||1309||4292||36/43||989 989|
|4||Cairn Toul||1291||4233||36/43||963 972|
|5||Sgor an Lochain Uaine||1258||4125||36/43||954 976|
|6||Cairn Gorm||1245||4082||36||005 040|
|11||Beinn a’ Bhuird||1197||3925||36||920 005|
|13||Beinn Mheadhoin||1182||3875||36||240 016|
|17||Ben Avon||1171||3839||36||132 019|
|19||Beinn Bhrotain||1157||3793||43||954 923|
|21||Derry Cairngorm||1155||3787||36/43||179 980|
|36||Sgor Gaoith||1118||3666||36/43||903 989|
|40||Monadh Mor||1113||3649||43||938 942|
|55||Bynack More||1090||3574||36||420 063|
|59||Beinn a’ Chaorainn||1083||3551||36||450 013|
|95||Carn a’ Mhaim||1037||3400||36/43||994 952|
|114||Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair||1019||3341||35/36/43||883 927|
|130||The Devil’s Point||1004||3292||36/43||976 951|
|250||Beinn Bhreac||931||3052||43/36||589 970|
|Section 9||Monadh Liath & Creag Meagaidh|
|30||Creag Meagaidh||1128||3698||34/42||418 875|
|75||Stob Poite Coire Ardair||1054||3456||34/42||429 888|
|81||Beinn a’ Chaorainn||1049||3439||34/41||386 851|
|127||Carn Liath||1006||3298||34||472 903|
|225||Carn Dearg||945||3098||35||635 024|
|251||A’ Chailleach||930||3049||35||681 041|
|260||Geal Charn||926||3036||35||561 988|
|271||Carn Sgulain||920||3016||35||684 059|
|283||Beinn Teallach||915||3000||34/41||360 859|
|Section 10||Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|
|92||Sgurr na Ciche||1040||3410||33/40||902 966|
|104||Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich||1027||3367||33||984 065|
|110||Aonach air Chrith||1021||3348||33||510 083|
|111||Ladhar Bheinn||1020||3344||33||824 040|
|116||Garbh Chioch Mhor||1013||3321||33/40||909 961|
|121||The Saddle||1010||3311||33||936 131|
|122||Sgurr an Doire Leathain||1010||3311||33||150 099|
|131||Sgurr an Lochain||1004||3292||33||510 104|
|132||Sgurr Mor||1003||3289||33/40||965 980|
|146||Spidean Mialach||996||3266||33||660 043|
|159||Druim Shionnach||987||3236||33||740 085|
|169||Maol Chinn-dearg||981||3216||33||320 088|
|183||Beinn Sgritheall||974||3193||33||836 126|
|193||Sgurr Thuilm||963||3157||40||939 879|
|206||Sgurr nan Coireachan Finnan||956||3134||40||903 880|
|212||Sgurr nan Coireachan||953||3125||33/40||933 958|
|219||Creag a’ Mhaim||947||3105||33||880 078|
|222||Meall Buidhe||946||3102||33/40||849 989|
|223||Sgurr na Sgine||946||3102||33||946 113|
|236||Luinne Bheinn||939||3079||33||869 008|
|238||Sron a’ Choire Ghairbh||937||3072||34||222 945|
|273||Meall na Teanga||918||3010||34||220 925|
|274||Creag nan Damh||918||3010||33||983 112|
|Section 11||Glen Affric & Kintail|
|12||Carn Eighe||1183||3879||25||123 262|
|14||Mam Sodhail||1181||3872||25||120 253|
|22||Sgurr nan Ceathramhan||1151||3774||25/33||572 228|
|33||A’ Chralaig||1120||3672||33||941 148|
|41||Tom a’ Choinnich||1112||3646||25||163 273|
|44||Sgurr nan Conbhairean||1109||3636||34||129 139|
|49||Mullach Fraoch-choire||1102||3613||33||951 171|
|70||Sgurr Fhuaran||1067||3498||33||978 167|
|76||Toll Creagach||1054||3456||25||194 283|
|96||Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg||1036||3397||33||351 143|
|100||Beinn Fhada||1032||3384||33||181 192|
|105||Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe||1027||3367||33||984 149|
|128||Beinn Fhionnlaidh||1005||3295||25||115 282|
|133||Sgurr na Carnach||1002||3285||33||977 159|
|134||Sail Chaorainn||1002||3285||34||133 154|
|137||Aonach Meadhoin||1001||3282||33||491 137|
|166||Mullach na Dheargain||982||3220||25/33||812 259|
|173||Ciste Dhubh||979||3210||33||621 166|
|204||Carn Ghluasaid||957||3138||34||146 125|
|270||An Socach||921||3020||25/33||882 230|
|275||A’ Ghlas-bheinn||918||3010||25/33||823 231|
|Section 12||Glen Cannich to Glen Carron|
|24||Sgurr na Lapaich||1150||3770||25||161 351|
|29||An Riabhachan||1129||3702||25||134 345|
|60||Sgurr a’ Choire Ghlais||1083||3551||25||259 430|
|68||An Socach||1069||3505||25||100 332|
|78||Sgurr a’ Chaorachain||1053||3452||25||087 447|
|82||Sgurr Fhuar-thuill||1049||3439||25||236 437|
|125||Maoile Lunndaidh||1007||3302||25||135 458|
|139||Sgurr Choinnich||999||3275||25||076 446|
|150||Sgurr na Ruaidhe||993||3256||25||289 425|
|151||Carn nan Gobhar||992||3252||25||182 344|
|152||Carn nan Gobhar||992||3252||25||273 439|
|161||Lurg Mhor||986||3233||25||065 404|
|226||Bidein a’ Choire Sheasgaich||945||3098||25||049 412|
|284||Sgurr nan Ceannaichean||915||3000||25||087 480|
|Section 13||Coulin & Torridon|
|77||Spidean a’ Choire Leith||1054||3456||25||929 579|
|108||Mullach an Rathain||1023||3354||25||912 577|
|123||Ruadh-stac Mor||1010||3311||25||951 611|
|164||Sgurr Mhor||985||3230||19/24||866 613|
|185||Spidean Coire nan Clach||972||3187||25||965 597|
|197||Sgorr Ruadh||960||3148||25||959 504|
|246||Maol Chean-dearg||933||3059||25||924 498|
|263||Beinn Liath Mhor||925||3033||25||964 519|
|268||Tom na Gruagaich||922||3023||19/24||859 601|
|Section 14||Loch Maree to Loch Broom|
|43||Sgurr Mor||1110||3639||20||203 718|
|53||Sgurr nan Clach Geala||1093||3584||20||184 715|
|72||Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill||1062||3482||19||069 843|
|73||Sgurr Fiona||1060||3475||19||064 837|
|115||Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair||1018||3338||19||052 735|
|140||Sgurr Breac||999||3275||20||158 711|
|145||A’ Chailleach||997||3269||20||136 714|
|156||Sgurr Ban||989||3243||19||055 745|
|188||A’ Mhaighdean||967||3170||19||007 748|
|209||Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich||954||3128||20||219 724|
|215||Meall Gorm||949||3111||20||221 696|
|239||Beinn Tarsuinn||937||3072||19||039 727|
|242||Meall a’ Chrasgaidh||934||3062||20||184 733|
|247||Fionn Bheinn||933||3059||20||147 621|
|266||Sgurr nan Each||923||3026||20||184 697|
|267||An Coileachan||923||3026||20||241 680|
|276||Ruadh Stac Mor||918||3010||19||018 756|
|281||Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh||916||3003||19||061 775|
|Section 15||Loch Broom to Easter Ross|
|57||Beinn Dearg||1084||3554||20||259 812|
|87||Ben Wyvis||1046||3430||20||463 684|
|175||Cona Mheall||978||3207||20||274 816|
|177||Meall nan Ceapraichean||977||3203||20||257 825|
|213||Am Faochagach||953||3125||20||303 793|
|256||Eididh nan Clach Geala||927||3039||20||257 842|
|261||Seana Bhraigh||926||3036||20||281 878|
|143||Ben More Assynt||998||3272||15||318 201|
|194||Ben Klibreck||962||3154||16||585 299|
|257||Ben Hope||927||3039||9||477 501|
|Section 17||The Islands|
|153||Sgurr Alasdair||992||3252||32||450 208|
|162||Inaccessible Pinnacle||986||3233||32||445 215|
|184||Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh||973||3190||32||445 231|
|189||Ben More||966||3167||48||525 330|
|190||Sgurr na Banachdich||965||3164||32||440 225|
|191||Sgurr nan Gillean||964||3161||32||471 253|
|202||Bruach na Frithe||958||3141||32||461 252|
|217||Sgurr Mhic Choinnich||948||3108||32||450 210|
|228||Sgurr Dubh Mor||944||3095||32||458 205|
|243||Am Basteir||934||3062||32||465 253|
|265||Sgurr nan Eag||924||3030||32||457 195|
|277||Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh||918||3010||32||447 235|
My Personal Journey
As I have walked up mountains fairly much from the cradle I guess it is not surprising that I ended up doing the Munros. Family holidays in the Lake District inevitably involved a visit up to some peak or another. Even though my dad’s knees were becoming increasingly creaky he still took me, often JP, sometimes my cousins up a hill or two. At some stage round about 14 I was let loose on my own and over the next few years gradually became keener and keener on the achievement of making the summit. This became more fanatical as I discovered the Wainwright Guides and frankly they all had to be ticked! At some stage during my university days walking and drinking rather than just drinking became the main reason for a visit to the cottage. My parents had brought a cottage in the village of Threlkeld, near Keswick when I was 6 and we still have it today – possibly the best decision my dad ever made as the alternative was a caravan near Ambleside!
During my college days the Pyman family had taken a large house for a week on Mull. One day we slogged up Ben More in the rain – my first Munro. However at the time it meant nothing to me as it was a few years later when Barry picked us up at Carlisle for a day’s sojourn to the twin peaks of Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulachaen. Again it poured but the pattern was set and myself and Jonnie started making some high mileage, low mountain volume trips north. Barry then bought me the guide and the damage was done – I was hooked. For the next 15 to 20 years climbing the Munros became a major feature of my life.
So what was it about the Munros which hooked me. Frankly the first few visits were unutterably miserable – each climb was very wet, steep and aside from a tick in the book very unrewarding. The beer afterwards was always welcome but too much beer only made the following day’s climb even more miserable. I particularly remember a long night in Dalwhinnie, a night spent either in or outside a car, and then a hike up Geal Charn at Drumochter feeling like death. The pleasure of the actual upwards climb has never thrilled me; in reality climbs vary between bearable to an orgy of pain with only the drive to complete the upwards section keeping me going – along with humiliation of turning back because I was too tired. However, once up the initial pull the walk only ever got better. Striding out along ridges (even ones that involve up and down) was great, the final approach to the summit always a relief and often a joy. If there was a view so much the better but even if I was walking in cloud there was something thrilling about being so high and so away from civilisation. On the very rare occasions the sun shone it was a delight and nowhere is better, sitting on the westerly Sister with someone playing the bagpipes as the sun set over Skye is one of those memories to be always treasured. The pub at the bottom may always beckon but sometimes I was more than happy to dawdle or simply sit and look. The views in Scotland are unsurpassed, the contrast between sea and mountain not bettered anywhere.
The variety of the Munros is worth a mention at this stage. I have been very fortunate in that many of the best mountains I have done in good weather . The Aonach Eagach and the Cuillin were both bathed in hot sunshine, as was my most enjoyable day on the hills on Ladhven. I also had some great weather on my Cairngorm 2 day trip, the Letterewe Forest was good the first time and even the North Mullardoch hills gave good views. By contrast Lurg Mhor and Sgurr na Ciche were bloody awful. So if I was blessed on the good hills how about the majority. The figures I have detailed below tell a story but 54% of all my summits had no view at all, maybe this is not so bad. There is no doubt the mountains get better the further north and west you get and any hill north of the glen is usually worth double its southern neighbour. Not only do the north western highlands have the advantage of sea scape but they are also sharper, more dramatic often with a little entertaining scrambling to boot. The Cuillin are the best and I will always return to them but the landscape in the Far north, particularly Sutherland is unsurpassed. However, south of the Great glen I have always enjoyed the Cairngorm plateau, striding out endlessly being a real pleasure. Further south it becomes more difficult to generate so much enthusiasm. Part of this is because they were climbed more often than not on 2 day escapes from Yorkshire on my own with a night or two spent in the car. Of those south of the Glen there are very few I will revisit (although ironically my only threeser is Ben Starav!)0
However the pleasure on the hill is only part of the attraction I have for the Munros. Even though Scottish pubs are almost uniformerly awful there is a great pleasure being sat in one having had a hard day on the hills. There are exceptions but more often than not they are cold, have undrinkable bitter, serve bland food and empty. Although I am at my happiest on my own (or with the dog) on the mountain it is at night when company is good. Even driving up and back is good: on the M74/A9 there is that slight knot of anticipation which grows as the hills get bigger, that feeling that you are pitting yourself against the mountain and also your own mental strength. Particularly if I am on my own this is a very strong feeling. Even travelling back there is the satisfaction of a good job done.
I also enjoy the Munros when I am at home. I am always thinking of the next trip. As I write this in November I am contemplating a two day trip to knock off 3 remaining tops on Aonach Mhor and Bynack Mhor – the maps have been out and it all looks very easy. You forget at home how bloody tough these things are when you are actually on them. I also read all the books, often have maps out just for the hell of it and talk about them to anyone who has heard of them. Finally of course it is a challenge, a worthy challenge that is good for you. 284 ticks have to be made and each one has its own character. The satisfaction of completion is great but only really entices you into the next chapter, whatever that happens to be. For me it is the Marilyns (obviously including Corbetts) and the Tops. I have 7 Tops to complete (and Hamish’ Grand Slam) but around about 1200 Marilyns – plenty to keep me going.
The 2904th Munroist
1. Ben More, Mull 1985
50. Sgurr na Ciche, Knoydart 1989
100. Sgurr an Dire Leathain – South Glenshiel Ridge 1992
150. Cairn of Claise – East of Glenshee 1995
200. Sgurr a Chaorachain – Achnashellach 1998
250. Cairn Mairg – Glen Lyon 2001
284. Sgurr na h’Ulaidh 2003
|Best Days||Ladhar Bheinn, Mamores 2, Cairngorm Crossing, various on Skye|
|Most Dramatic Summits||Sgurr nan Gillian (and others on Skye), Seana Braigh, the Saddle|
|Ridiculously hot weather||Aonach Eagach, Saddle, Cairngorm Crossing|
|Worst Weather||Conival, Lurg Mhor, Sgurr na Ciche, snow west of the Spittal|
|Worst Terrain||Sgurr Ban in the Fisherfield, Cairn Toul|
|Worst Injuries||Ankle Meall Chean Dearg south of Torridon and blisters from the Fidler|
|Most Exhausted||Walk from Sheneval, road out west of North Mullardoch, climb to the Bealach Bhearnais|
|Most Pointless Area||Monadh Liath, Drumochter|
|Best Bothy||South of the Fidler|
|Oddest Moments||Bagpipes on the Sisters, bare feet on Alligan, wild horses on Lurg Mhor|
|Worst Pubs||Kinlochewe, Crianlarich and Arrochar stand out as being particularly awful|
Weather on Summits:
No View 104 (37%)
Rain 47 (17%)
Clear but Cloudy 96 (34%)
Sunny 37 (13%)
None 103 (36%)
Pyman 132 (46%)
Barry 95 (33%)
Alistair 41 (14%)
Bracken retired on 116
The Big Tours
1989 The Cuillin
3 days on Skye.
Day 1 over Bruach na Frithe to Gillean over the West Ridge.
We hired a guide for Day 2 over the Inaccessible Pinnacle to Sgurr Alasdair. After the midge JP and myself then climbed Blaven
Day 1 My first taste of the Cuillin – fantastic conditions and a great circuit from the north. A long and slow walk in took us on to the summit of Bruach na Frithe where Robert suddenly produced an enormous spread of food. His pack appeared to carry the proverbial kitchen sink which was fine if he was carrying it but it did make the trip slow. On the ridge we were able to locate Am Basteir but not any Route up to the Tooth. Robert left us and myself Barry and JP attempted the famous west ridge of Gillean…unroped. It was steep and distinctly hairy, particularly at one moment when Jp lost it after shooting up a chimney and then being confronted with a 1,000foot drop – not good. Barry did not help by telling him to get a move on. I had gone up a parallel chimney which worked out to be better. The ridge did take a while but eventually we summited on Gillean (a tremendous summit – possibly the best). A weary route down was taken but improved towards the foot when Reg appeared brandishing some cans of beer.
Day 2 A drive round to Glen Brittle and we met a guide for the circuit of Coire Laggan. The weather held with some floaty cloud around the ridges but generally was very good. The guide led us directly up to Beinn Dearg under the Pinnacle and there we stopped to consider the climb. In fact all you can see from Dearg is a steep jagged fin which is the side most people abseil off from. In reality the main consideration is how narrow it is and the exposure on the climb , in fact only a couple of foot across. We got roped up and the guide led a none too difficult assault on the summit from the easy south side. It is easily doable technically with the rope only for comfort or if anyone succumbs to vertigo. None of us had any problems and we abseiled off the short side. We then circuited Coire Laggan along Collies Ledge , over Sgurr Mhic Connich towards Sgurr Alasdair. The ridge was narrow but not exposed with the only problem I could foresee being potential route finding difficulties in cloud. The gabbro though is amazing for grip and security. Alasdair was peaked and then a rough, but very quick descent down the Great Stone Shoot brought us back in to the corrie and a short walk back to the Youth Hostel.
Back at Sligachan a terrible night ensued with the midge simply ruining any chance of sleep. Midge got in the tent, the weather was too hot and sticky to cover up in the sleeping bag and then both JP and myself bailed in to the car for an extremely uncomfortable night.
Day 3. The terrible night was followed by a pleasant walk up Blaven. Easy compared to the previous 2 days and we did not continue along the ridge to Clach Glas where there are some considerable difficulties. Drove down to the Kinghouse for the night.
Day 4 A relatively simple walk from Glencoe on to Creise and its mate was complicated when myself and Jonnie drank from the River Etive and 24 hours almost to the hour both became extremely ill. Sickness for 12 hours from work, on the tube and at home – probably the most extreme sickness I have suffered from.
1990 Glen Dessary
An epic 2 day trip in shocking weather and carrying an old, ill fitting red back pack with a rigid aluminium frame. Day 1 we walked in to the bothy and climbed over the Corbett to Gairich and back. Overnight the weather became wet and we tramped along the long ridge (4 Munros) to Sgurr na Ciche. The return was interminable.
I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for on these 2 days. This was the first real trip of inland Scotland in the rain. To be blunt I had never experienced anything like it. My previous long day walks were in the Lakeland hills, never an overnight in poor conditions . The previous year in the sun on the Cuillin was also a very different experience. There are a number of things though that stood out on this 2 day visit. The first was the interminable walking along the wide Chioch ridge on Day 2. In particular I remember clearly the undulating nature of the ridge, the lack of tracks and the driving rain. At the end of the ridge Sgurr na Ciche was a major disappointment, as one of the best hills in the Highlands was done when I was exhausted , in pain and very very wet. The other bit of Day 2 was that the hours just seemed to pass, I think we were out for about 10 hours with a 3 hour return walk from Ciche.
The bothy at Kinbreack was an experience but a welcome spot out the rain; over the years I have recognized it as one of the best. We left the pack at the bothy and headed off for the Corbett and Gairich having come over from the car. Returning to the bothy I cooked my traditional savoury rice and shared some Scotch which someone produced – we were upstairs. One of the other guys was waiting for his friend who never arrived and we found out that the next day he had become benighted about 200 yards from the bothy and slept on the hillside. I remember waking up in the night and hearing the rain battering on the roof. It never stopped till we arrived back on the road and the walk back to the car.
I do struggle to remember the hills and summits but whatever happened out there it gave me a completely different experience to any I had ever been used to before. Aside from my very uncomfortable red pack and savoury rice I had an old family sleeping bag (kind of brown), a new stove and pans, a change of clothes (which were wetter than those I wore) and some winter gloves. Fortunately the rain only arrived on Day 2 as I would have had problems if the pack had got wet on Day 2. Another camping lesson learned.
A final day in the Arrochar Alps up Ben Vorlich/BenVane from the train
1991 The Fisherfield Forest
Walked in from Kinlochewe to the Carnmore bothy over Slioch and Beinn Lair. Good, settled weather . The next day we climbed the Big Six, a true Wilderness before staggering back over from Achnegie to the road. 12 hour day.
An epic 2 day crossing from Kinlochewe, coming out in the north near Dundonnel. The crossing is known as the Great Wilderness and many celebrity walkers will not talk about the area in case it becomes too popular. Having been in twice in reasonable weather this seems unlikely to me! The trek started with a calm walk along Loch Maree before heading up the steep slopes of Slioch. The weather was fine, Slioch magnificent and as this was early in my Munro career there was little or no fear of what to come. Stupidly I missed the top on Slioch and many tyears later ploughed up again with Alistair and JP in atrocious weather – lesson learned. Not being much in control of the original trek we traversed Beinn Lair before heading down to Fionn Loch and an overnight stop on the grass outside Carnmore Bothy. Fortunately the weather held as I did not take a tent and the bothy itself was locked! We met Reg and Archie who had taken the low level route in along Lochan Fada.
An early start had us heading up to the col between A Mhaighdean (the pronunciation is something like ‘Virgin’) and Ruadh Stac Mor. Both are relatively straight forward but were not appreciated to their full due to the cloudy weather. A low col connects these two with the main Fisherfield ridge of four. The daunting prospect of what was still to come hit me and I was on the longest day of my Munro challenge. Barry suffered first after Tharsuinn but we brewed up in the col which drove us on. The slopes of Sgurr Ban are horrendous, particularly in the wet with the quartzite treacherous and potentially ankle breaking. Hours later we were fording the stream at Achnegie and then with the walk seemingly done started staggering along the land rover track and the further 1,000 foot climb over the lower slopes of An Teallach back to the Dundonnel Road. I clearly remembered staggering from side to side on the track – possibly as knackered as I ever was on the hills. What keeps you going at this stage who knows but I did and like to think there is an inner determination/automation which just keeps the legs going when the mind was gone. Finally we hit the road at Corrie Halle and back along to Ullapool where only the Chip shop was open and we only had a couple of hours for beers – damn.
Day 3. A relatively straight forward day over the two western Fannichs. It simply surprised me that I could move in the morning
Day 4. I was dropped off at Garve for an ascent of Wyvis. I returned to Garve to find no trains ran on the Sunday so eventually got a hitch and a short train to Inverness for the main line south. The hitch was in the back of a truck with manure in. Lovely
In to Inverie from Mallaig on the boat with a day 1 climb in to the rain over the Meall Buidhe/Luinne Beinn rough ridge. No tent but full pack otherwise. The second day was in retrospect probably my best day on the hills – a classic climb on Ladhar Bheinn in sunny but cool conditions. Long walk out from Barrisdale
Just myself and Barry headed off to Inverie on the boat crossing from Mallaig. Reg and Archie met us at Barrisdale and picked us up at the head of Kinlochhourn. Knoydart has an image of wet weather and large distances but maybe I was as fit as I ever was because I did enjoy the 2 days with the exception of the long loch side walk up Loch Hourn to the end of the road. Inverie I have to say is nothing special although Barry seemed quite excited – however no road links I suppose gave it a certain kudos. The walk east in to the hills was enlivened by Barry breaking his lace which suggested a long and painful 2 days. The interminable valley of Glen Meadail was finally abandoned in favour of a direct ascent through the cliffs. The ascent was exceptionally steep involving at one stage an epic 10 metres scrambling through a waterfall. The ridge over Meall Buidhe, the tops and on to Luinne Bheinn was done in heavy dreich adding substance to the fact that Knoydart is the wettest place in the UK. Glancing longingly at the nearby Corbett, Sgurr a Choire Bheith, at 2,998’ a real danger to being elevated to Munro status we decided to descend quickly and directly to Barrisdale, by that stage basking in some late evening sun. Too early for the midge Mam Barrisdale is a top spot, the bothy good and plenty of places for camping if required – unlike many places visited this is one I would be happy to return to.
Day 2 over Ladhar Bheinn proved spectacular with top weather, a relatively straight forward ascent and then spectacular views over ridge and sea towards Skye all amounting to my most memorable (in terms of enjoyment) day on the hills. We crossed a shallow ridge and on to the second ridge, soon followed up to the excellent summit ridge. The summit was only a few hundred yards along and in reality we should have carried on all the way back to Barrisdale via the main ridge. However we returned the way we had come which was still good. At Barrisdale we picked up the packs and headed off to Kinloch Hourn. I think the return took about 2 and a half hours with a seemingly unnecessary 1,000 foot of climbing, certainly an anti climax and particularly hard work for Barry for whom the 2 days had been difficult.
Day 3: Beinn na Lap 3 north from Currour Halt and out to Fersit. Overnight in Fort William
1993 Lurg Mhor
A long, single day trip to Lurg Mhor from Achnasheen. Over the Corbett and up the difficult climb to Bidean. Pouring rain from the col all the way over Lurg Mhor and back over the col. Sustained by fruit gums on a ten and a half hour day.
Many people look at Lurg Mhor and see it as the most difficult and inaccessible hill in mainland Scotland. In many ways this is true as with the exception of the Fisherfield Forest the problem is that the route in, from which ever direction you come in from, involves a lot of ‘false’ climbing before the hill is spotted. However the hill itself is simply a big whaleback with very little interest. On my second visit to Lurg Mhor I was able to get a much better perspective of the mountain, coming in from the west and doing the top – surprisingly tricky.
The classic route in is from the locked gates at Craig. A long walk takes us up to the Bealach Bhearnais and over Beinn Tharsuinn. The weather started to close in as we reached the col under Bidean which frankly did not help. As unprepared as ever for a full day’s walk neither myself or Barry had looked closely at the route and were confronted with steep cliffs in low cloud and pouring rain. It was tricky and slippy with a slip potentially serious. Barry ventured his famous comment ‘you go first I have a wife and children’. At the time I had neither. Grabbing tufts of loose wet grass I scrambled up and the headed in to the storm towards Lurg Mhor. Very, very wet around Lurg Mhor and down the steep northern slopes. Back down to the head of Loch Monar we met a herd of wild pony in what I always have thought of as a classic camping spot. The problems of Lurg Mhor however confronted us again as we started a long 1,000’ slog up to the Bhealach Bhearnais again. Hard work and a good long walk out completed a famous crossing. The beers at Loch Carron were very welcome.
Day 2. From Clunie a quick ascent to the ridge and then an easy ridge east and then a bit of a dip before the slightly off route Ciste Dhubh. The pint at the Clunie is always welcome.
Day 3. A quick climb up Moruisg and its mate (now demoted). All I remember of these two was the fact that Archie shot up the hill, looked fit and lithe (being 60 plus). Not being a Munroist this, near the road, Munro was ideal for him – it is the distance from the roads that are the main problem.
Day 4. Completion of the South Glen Shiel ridge. Low cloud and poor weather made this disappointing but off the final summit I did feel better as I led a loss sole out the cloud who frankly was out of his depth.
1994 North Mullardoch
A day which started gloriously with a great crossing to Lapaich from the Mullardoch dam but ended in a lot of pain on the long walk down Glen Elchaig. . .
Day 1. North Mullardoch has the reputation of big, remote hills in a seriously isolated situation. In fact on a later visit clearing up the tops you can get on to the beginning of the ridge quite easily but after that it is a long slope over ‘big’ hills culminating in the really isolated An Socach. Myself and Barry opted for a genuine crossing from east at the Mullardoch damn (a fine spot) out along Glen Elchaig where we would be picked up by Reg and Archie. The walk basically crossed OS map 33, which made it good to follow, better than messing around with different maps in places such as the Clunie hills.
The weather remained settled apart from some high level cloud and it was dry under foot which is always a big advantage – something of a rarity in our later visits! Lapaich and Riabbachan are big hills, the climb to Lapaich particularly hard work. However I enjoyed the crossing of Riabbachan, Tiredness crept in on the pull up to the unnamed An Socach, certainly inaccessible and unmemorable. The problem with this walk though is that distance wise An Socach marks the half way point and the walk out is interminable. Hobbling along Glen Elchaig I have vivid memories of intense desperation to be picked up by a passing truck, a drink or an apple – Reg and Archie failed to provide either – I was very grumpy. These long walk outs are a feature of climbing the Munros and there is no doubt that the use of robust bike would help many walks enormously. Bit late though. I think we broke 9 hours on this day.
Day 2. JP was obviously elsewhere on this day as he had already completed Mullardoch on his epic 2 and ½ day circuit of Mullardoch in the almost dark month of November. However he had joined us on the Strathfarrar Four the previous day which was a pleasant and undemanding circuit save for some forward planning to get through the locked gates. Chalk and cheese with Mullardoch.
Day 3: Beinn Eighe. Noteable, both as a pointless ticking trip as a second Munro was soon added but more by Barry being unable to cope with some shockingly wet conditions. (it has rained heavily on both of my trips to Beinn Eighe!)
Day 4: Alone on the Black Mount
1995 The Fiddler
A very different walk from those in the west. This was a long 2 day walk meeting Reg and Archie at the bothy. A through walk from Blair Atholl to Braemar but the walk out was extremely painful due to blisters which also slowed me up next day on Lochnagar.
This was all about distance covered. Similar to the Mullardoch crossing there was something rewarding in passing through a 1/50,000 map in this case corner to corner. There was nothing difficult or remotely steep in the 2 day walk between Blair Atholl camp site and the Lynn of Dee. Myself and Barry started Day 1 in good, if a little hazy conditions. For 3 hours we followed a landrover track heading north towards Beinn Dearg up Glen Bruar before a straightforward pull up the mountain. This is an isolated Munro and better for it. However it cannot be said to be particularly exciting. From Beinn Dearg we headed East over totally featureless terrain towards Carn a Claim. On route I stopped for a brew whilst Barry headed up a Corbett, probably a wise move in retrospect. Carn a Claim is a totally uninspiring hill overlooking Glen Tilt. Little did I know that Reg and Archie were at that time wrecking my suspension on my old Escort as they drove up the famous glen to meet us at the Tarf bothy.
The bothy was fine although Barry did claim that he had seen a ghost in the night and it is reputed to be haunted! The following day was misty and on the two summits a little wet but really the two lumps of the Fiddleir and Sgarsoch were little missed as hills. The Fiddleir however does compete with Seana Braigh, Maigaidh and Beinn Fionnlaidh as one of the most remotest hills. The walk out was very long along the Geldie Burn and I had some cracking blisters which made it seem longer and certainly more painful. Eventually the Lynn of Dee was reached and a car sped us in to Braemar. The crossing was thoroughly enjoyable…in retrospect.
Day 3. A good day on the vast bulk of Lochnagar. Plenty of summits and tops were claimed (but not all) without too much effort. The climb was from the less exciting west side and we ended up to the East, being picked up in Glen Muick.
Day 4. I was dropped off past the ski lifts at Glen Shee (bringing back some horrendous memories of a first ski trip with David and Guy and blizzards) and walked back north over the four hugging the road to the east.
1996 The Deargs and Seana Braigh
A bit of a mixed trip based at Ullapool which combined a cycle ride to Seana Braigh, a classic round of An Teallach and the crossing of the Deargs. All 3 days though were 6 hours plus and all good days. Seana Braigh really had that remote feel that is so much part of the whole experience.
Day 1. Myself , Barry and P met on the road to Ullapool to tackle the Deargs. Starting from Loch Glasgarnoch and coming down at Loch Broom gave a classic crossing of this tight knit group. The ascent up Am Faocachagach was relatively simple although Barry did succeed in falling in the river. The main four Deargs seemed to fall relatively easily and were suitably innocuous. My main memory sadly of the trip was a cracking migraine that curtailed my first hour’s drinking at Ullapool. I think the crossing took 6 and a half hours
Day 2. Myself and Barry hired a bike for the long track up Glen Achall to the foot of Seana Braigh. Bikes would certainly be an asset in future trips up glens, but these hired ones were extremely uncomfortable – the moral of the story being do not hire bikes in Ullapool! The feeling of remoteness on the summit of Seana Braigh was very impressive with a spectacular view over the corrie in to genuine trackless lands. A very impressive and isolated hill made considerably easier by the cycle in whereas JP had included Seana Braigh on a crossing from the Deargs and a night in some mythical bothy.
Day 3. A classic round of An Teallach walked in misty conditions. A fantastic hill which many people would say is the best on Mainland Britain I have not really enjoyed it to it’s full on either of my visits. It is a mountain I certainly want to return to. The ridge is certainly good with some enjoyable scrambling over the peaks but I never felt the real feeling of exposure I have felt on other ridges (or the tingling element of danger) such as Liachach, the Aonach Eagach or on the Cuillin.
Day 4. A simple stroll up Fionn Beinn from Achnasheen
1997 Ben Avon and the Aonachs
Alistair introduced to the Munros on ‘the Sea’ near Glencoe but two long days on the Aonachs and over Ben Avon were the main features of the visit. It was becoming very difficult to stay in one basic venue as the remaining Munros were becoming spread out.
Day 1. A late start and a 6 hour day over Beinn a Bhuird and Ben Avon, starting and finishing at Braemar. Despite the size of these hills the walk in and climb was not bad. From Glen Quoich a landrover track wound up the hillside on to the broad ridge between the two tops of Beinn a Bhuird. The walk was enlivened by Bracken trying to end her days by sliding on her back off the snow slopes in to the steep east corries – daft animal. I was just starting to consider the Tops at this stage but not seriously enough to tick the out of the way north Top on Bhuird. The cloud was down as we crossed to the tors of Ben Avon, unmemorable except for some minor Top ticking. We headed back to Braemar taking in the Corbett Carn na Drochaide on route. A good day but I knew it would not be long before I was back coming in from the North.
Day 2. A long drive over to Fort William preceded a long slog up Carn mor Dearg. I was pretty tired before we summited, again the weather was cloudy but not bad. The crossing on to the Aonachs was simple though. As we were in cloud all the time there was no appreciation of the height and scale of the hills although Barry did have an Eureka moment on the crossing. I know what he meant – they do not happen that much. We had a long, steep descent in to Glen Nevis which was enlivened by winding the dog up by taking different courses down and calling her from one to another. She loved it
Day 3. We met Alistair for his first experience of the Tour at Ballaculish. The crossing of’ what we refer to as ‘the Sea’, was straightforward with the views a little better than the previous 2 days. We returned to Fort William.
Day 4. A straightforward 2 north of Spean Bridge in fairly ropey conditions finished a tour which was a little disjointed but did give a good sense of achievement
1998 North Cluanie and Lunndaidh
A high ‘footage’ day north of Cluanie included a real introduction to the Tops. Lunndaidh was not actually a difficult day and not particularly memorable
The four of us met at Cluanie, had a pint/coffee and set off on what ended up being quite an exhausting day. 5 Munros in a day was never going to be easy but add in 5 Tops and the day proved to be fairly memorable. I remember the walk for 3 reasons: the first being the major move to climbing Tops, the second, linked to the first, being people strewn all over the mountains, and the third being a powerful wind on the final ridge to the Mullach. I remember clearly being knocked to the ground at one stage.
The day started easily enough but after Sail Charoinn I headed north for 2 further tops and never saw Barry and Alistair again. I met JP on the long pull up between the two separate mountains, up A’Chalaig. He simply appeared in the mist, near the top I actually missed. We then completed the walk and were gratefully picked up by Alistair a few miles east along Loch Clunie.
Day 2. We were based in Loch Carron. We passed a day of absolutely no memories over Lunndaidh and its two neighbours. Nothing to say on the crossing, made in mist.
Day 3. An excellent day on Beinn Eighe with JP. Again we headed north in to the coire to the north, the only obvious route up Eighe. An extra Munro had been added since our last visit and we also aimed to ‘walk the ridge’ which involved a scrambled top at the west end (Sail Mhor) and then a long hike along the ridge towards Kinlochewe. The clearest memory of this walk was the clearance as we descended towards Kinlochewe – one of those spectacular moments.
Day 4. Having being chucked off Geal Charn due to an irritated farmer and Bracken I eventually found myself on Schiehallion. A high start helps but frankly this is a disappointing hill on the route I took. A very eroded path from the Braes of Foss leads to the summit and back the same way. I certainly found nothing special about the hill although this may have been due to the 4th day (want to get home/anticlimax) scenario
1999 The Grey Corries
A long day over the Grey Corries in cloudy weather. The ridge twisted and turned which I lengthened by taking in the westerley top. We also drove to the 3 near Loch Quoich which involved the only time I returned to the car for lunch and started again.
Day 1 We met up on the very long and winding, single track road which eventually led in to Loch Hourn. Alistair met myself Barry and JP under the 3 Loch Quoich Munros and sped up the Gleoraich on a well constructed stalkers track. The summit and its mate were soon reached and we were back in the car within four hours. However we left Alistair to speed the singleton in the afternoon.
Day 2 The Grey Corries beckoned after an overnight stop in Invergarry. We headed up the fine valley towards Stob Ban from the little road at the back of Spean Bridge. An excellent bothy was passed on the Lairg Leachach where we reckoned JP had suffered badly on his crossing from Dalwinnie to Fort William. Stob Ban was in cloud and the Corries fared little better in a cold but mercifully rain less day. Once on the main ridge the summits passed relatively easily, a real collection day. The grey quartzite was not as hard wearing as I anticipated and although the distance covered was great the walk basically felt comfortable. However a final leap on my own to the top beyond Sgurr Coinnich Mhor meant that I was confronted with a very long walk out, much of it through a long and wet valley. 7 miles on this type of walk out is hard work on any day. The Corries were revisited in December of 2005 to tick a couple of missed tops in spectacularly cold weather and great winter conditions. The prior night spent in the car registered-20c and a concerned knock on the window from the police!
Day 3. Few memories exist of a trawl up Gulvain with the exception of an unrelentingly steep slope
Day 4. On my own I tackled Ben Lomond in a very enjoyable circuit from the south. 3 hours up and down in much warmer weather (except for a shower on the summit) gave a very satisfying finale to the trip
2000 Ceathreamhnan, Central Skye and Sgritheall
Broke the locked gates at Ceathreamhnan and then got locked in! Over the summit to An Socach and back over the Mullach was all good. Sgritheall was memorable for being a real hot sunny day
Day 1. Met at the Cluanie for another visit to Skye. The weather looked promising so we all took a trip round the point to Arnisdale to Beinn Sritheall overlooking Loch Hourn and Knoydart. The drive was thoroughly enjoyable and we were soon sweating up the steep slopes of Sgritheall. The climb in the heat was a slog from sea level but the views were excellent. The views from the summit were probably as extensive as anything that I saw in the entire Munros experience, captured impressively in a photo Alistair took. A relaxed and easy day gave us plenty of time to settle in to Plockton for the night.
Day 2. We left Alistair with the dogs and drove on to Skye and around to Glen Brittle for an assault on the centre of the ridge. Again the weather was good but hazy with some light clouds hanging on to the ridge. An entertaining scramble along the ridge compensated for the slog in and out. There was no technical difficulties (aside from locating the actual summits) and with tantalising glimpses down to Coruisk. It is a spectacular place. A late finish meant a poor meal in some hole at the Kyle. Felt desperate back at the B and B in Plockton but the dog trumped me by being sick on the bathroom floor.
Day 3. One of the few iconic mountains left to climb started with an illegal manoeuvre through some (about to be) locked gates at the west end of Glen Elchaig….in my car. However we probably saved ourselves a good hour each way so I was ok with the decision. The climb up Ceathraenham started with the Falls of Glomach. As good as they are I felt slightly disappointed, mainly because there was nowhere you could get a good view of them. The climb continued over a couple of tops to the cloud engulfed summit. Here we split in 3 ways, P after a Corbett, Barry back down the ridge to the Mullach and myself carrying on down the ridge to An Socach. The ridge was interesting but the distance long. Once over An Socach I cut the corner back to the ridge to the Mullach (which surely should mean ‘out of the way spur’). The crossing was not so bad so I was back on the Mullach reasonably quickly and then humped over the Top and back down to Iron Lodge. I was probably an hour after the others but not thrilled to find the gates now locked. Barry had to go crawling to the estate manager to have them unlocked. A final night in Plockton, a favourite of Alistair but not me.
Day 4. An increasingly wet day greeted me in Glen Coe. As with all Glen Coe hill a steep ascent in to the mist was required. Tops and summits rolled by in a bit of a daze before a very bedraggled person made its way back to the car. A very varied tour had been completed.
2001 South and East
A strange post foot and mouth tour dotting up and down the A9. The Glen Lyon 4, Braeriach and the two to the south off Courour Halt were all completed
Day 1. A trip on the train took us to Corrour Halt and a walk along Loch Ossian to complete the 2 Munros to the south. The day was fine and their was plenty of time to circuit them. Loch Ossian is at a good height and the Munros are only just over 3,000 foot so there is not a great deal of climbing involved. The trip was only really memorable for being confronted by some wild boar at the far end of the loch – Bracken did not think much of them.
Day 2. All five (including Ella) planned to have a crack at the ‘Glen Lyon Four’. Unfortunately a difficult farmer would not allow the 2 dogs on to the hill so soon after the Foot and Mouth outbreak. To me this was rather unnecessary but then I had spent the past 6 months getting increasingly frustrated by the farmers and their self obsession, many I am convinced saw Foot and Mouth as an opportunity to get people off their land and take the moral high ground on the subject. This was another example. Alistair took the dogs off to the Dam whilst we piled up the first of this easy 4 – similar in nature to the Strathfarrar Four further north. The round was completed despite Ella insisting on stopping for sandwiches and we were soon back in the uninspiring Killan for the night
Day 3. Myself and Barry travelled north to take in Braeriach and then split for our own agendas. The Braeriach plateau was a suitably bleak place, windswept and barren with the odd patches of snow. Certainly the Cairngorm plateau does offer a very different experience to the west coast and the Munros as a challenge are all the better for it. We split on the summit with Barry going on to the Angel’s Peak and myself doubling back on to a missed top on Cairngorm. The most enjoyable day on the tour.
Day 4. Back along Glen Lyon I finished off the trip with 2 one and a half out trips up either side of the Dam passing the car in the middle. A very simple day as the start is high and good tracks leading to each summit. A circuit of the loch taking in the Corbett would be a much more satisfactory way of tackling the 2.
2002 The Fannichs
A late start ensured a high camp on the Fannichs. The ridge is probably achievable in a day but it was good to split the ridge up and similar to the Cairngorms camp high on the hillside. The longest tour undertaken, 6 days in the hills.
Day 1. I drove up to Garve and met JP and Alistair for a day and a half on the Fannichs. A relatively late start from Desolation Road. The weather was good, high cloud although a little blowy on the ridge. We aimed for the far point of Sgurr nan Each to start. I was left a little behind on the ascent as I was suffering the after effects of a cold and actually felt a little off colour throughout the trip. However once on the main ridge the walking is very straightforward and we piled along towards Sgurr Mhor. However we left camp site choice a little late and were forced to pitch tents on a fairly exposed ridge. Unfortunately I was operating with my lightweight shelter and it rattled through the night. The shelter was not a great purchase as JP kept pointing out but to be fair it came in to its own on low level beaches with the children!
Day 2. A relatively early start meant that we dawdled along the rest of the ridge. From An Coileachan to the road however is a bit of a struggle, a very long and peaty valley causing a certain amount of distress to all and great impatience to Alistair who was suffering with his knee and decidedly not amused. Eventually we hit the road in good time for a World Cup game where Beckham scored his penalty to beat Argentina. My mind is blank as to where we stayed though I would hazard a guess at Ullapool.
Day 3. A beautiful, hot and sunny day on an excellent hill, Ben Alligan. We hauled ourselves up Tom na Gruagaich, a steep sweaty pull before a glorious circuit of the corrie. However on the main summit we did witness someone walking barefoot, one of the more extraordinary sites that I saw on the hills. We largely bypassed the needles before heading back down – it is not a big day but I was glad that we were able to do one of the Torridon giants in good weather.
Day 4. Practicalities meant that another visit to the Cuillin was necessary. An earlier visit to Coire Ghrundha had failed to complete Sgurr nan Eag. JP took Bracken up the hideous Corbett in front of Sligachan whilst I trawled over to Glen Brittle and hauled myself in to Coire Ghrundha. The summit of Sgurr nan Eag is not the easiest to find but great fun to try. I have a vivid memory of clambouring up some excellent gullies on the gabbro before summiting a fair way along the ridge. On the return I cut the corner in to Coire Lagan although in retrospect from there I should have topped Sgurr Sgumain, an extra top trip resulting.
Day 5. My brothers had departed as myself and JP wearily continued our ticking on some of the best mountains in the North West. To be fair this tour had included some of the best mountains in the Highlands, all wrapped in a single visit. Liathach was next on the agenda so a steep trawl from the road led to the eastern top of Spidean a Choire Leith. The cloud was swirling around the ridge which was enjoyable and easily covered. Again a top was missed at the west end but by this stage mountain fatigue had set in and the time in the pub was more attractive than potentially a tricky top. I would like to revisit Liathach and appreciate the ridge more.
Day 6. I really enjoyed Attow or Beinn Fhada as it is sometimes called. Intermittent rain and cloud meant that navigation was a little difficult. This was particularly so as we headed for the eastern top, two and a half miles from the summit. Little Glas Bheinn was taken out on the return to midge infested Strath Croe. My suspicions have always been that Days 3 and 4 are the most difficult on an extended trip and that there will become a stage when a routine is set and the mind settles to a regular beat. It also physically becomes easier.
2003 Glenfinnan and Completion
The final tour to complete the Munros on my 40th birthday. We overnighted in Glenfinnan below Streap and after the Corbetts before travelling down to the Kingshouse for the final and 184th Munro.
Day 1. Three to go. From the Glenfinnan monument we aimed up Sgurr nan Coireachan. The crossing to Sgurr Thuilm was achieved with little fuss and nothing memorable happened. We camped at the coll between Thuilm and Steap which was a good spot.
Day 2. My first day on just the Corbetts. Alistair was cutting the corner as he aimed for Gulvain whilst I made two very steep ascents of Streap and its neighbouring Corbett. On the way down the heavens opened but to be honest my mind was on the following day, my 40th birthday.
Day 3. The Final Munro. I had left Sgurr na h-Ulaidh as my final Munro for a number of reasons The main one was its accessibility if anyone wished to come and climb it with us and the fact that two good pubs were on its door step – the Clachaig and the Kingshouse. In addition it was a Munro none of us had climbed before (very rare) and a singleton which gave it some aesthetic appeal. In the end Elspeth and Mike joined us (Mike completing the hill in his 78th year) but unfortunately Helen could not make it and Elspeth was unable to knock my dad up in the morning!
We drove down from Fort William and headed off up the Alt na Mhuidhe. Soon we caught up Mike and Elspeth and left Elspeth behind in the valley to pick up the pieces. The climb was typical, long and unrelenting but eventually we popped out on the summit over the intervening Top. So that was that, we had some champagne and beer and then a shower swept over to bring some normality to what was a fairly surreal experience. Time was taken on the steep descent and myself and Barry popped over a convenient Corbett on the way back along the valley. A welcome pint in the Clachaig was followed by a meal in the Kingshouse and a camp in the grounds of the hotel.
Thoughts on completion were a little vague, as with all these things though what is done is soon forgotten and the search for something to replace it with starts. Luckily Tops were already in mind. However I did feel a little flat, the Munros had been a major influence on my life for the best part of 20 years.
Day 4. On my own I headed up some Tops on the Black Mount from the Bridge of Orchy hotel
Trips on my Own
For many years I took two short visits a year to Scotland to supplement the main tour although this did drop to one after the children came along. In addition I ‘made use’ of other visits whether with Helen or with work. We were on a lads golfing trip to St Andrews when myself and JP dragged Mike over six easterly Munros round Glen Doll whilst I took life and limb in hand on a ski trip to Aviemore I set off for Ben Macdui over the snow clad slopes, becoming seriously tired on the return as darkness started to fall.
However I did complete some memorable sole trips (36% of all Munros were completed on my own) that will live long in the memory and it is these which I describe in more detail below.
1991 Ben Alder: a 2 day trawl over the Alder 6 from Dalwhinnie
I was working in London at the time and confused all at work on Friday by walking in one Friday with a full pack next to my briefcase. Euston station was only 10 minutes down the road so I boarded the overnight train to Inverness (without a sleeping cabin)
Day 1. I woke to clear weather and the train crawling up the slopes towards the Drumochter summit. I bailed out the train at Dalwhinnie and wandered off to have some breakfast at the Benalder café. I entertained myself on the long walk alongside Loch Ericht by reading a book – something I had never done before and which I had picked up from Hamish himself. I arrived after 2 hours at the famous Culra Bothy, found a quiet room, left my pack and put some beer in the nearby river to cool. The Culra Bothy is placed spectacularly in the centre of a wide valley with sweeping views ahead. It is also a major stopping spot on one of the classic Coast to Coast Scottish walks as you head either to or from Fort William.
Feeling much better and lighter I tackled the Lancet Edge, directly ahead. This sharp edge provided no difficulty although the weather took a distinct turn for the worse as I approached the broad ridge above. For the next hour and a half the walk became a navigation exercise as a clocked the four northerly Munros from east to west. I was rewarded with a spectacular break in the cloud on Beinn Eibhinn which revealed great views west over the Easains and on to the Mamores, Corries and even the Ben. It was one of those WOW moments. I headed back to the Bothy but was gutted to find that I could not find my beer in the river – it is probably still there!
Day 2. A much less memorable circuit of Ben Alder itself and the long walk back up Loch Ericht. There was snow on the higher slopes of Alder which is a vast plateau of nothingness. I am not surprised that some people get in to trouble on it. Navigation was not helped by low cloud. The walk out was a bit of a haul but there was a certain satisfaction in completing a classic 2 day round direct from London without any help from a car. I walked back in to my London offices early on Monday morning.
1993 Glen Affric. A long wet single day
Having found myself with some spare work time (!) I naturally travelled up for a few days in Scotland, the culmination being a long day on the big hills of Affric. The weather was poor throughout and I did not have a tent so the options I had were a little limited. Affric is a lovely spot but always seems a little midge friendly to stay. The midge are without doubt the hidden menace of Scotland. You have to have suffered at their hands to understand the misery they inflict and it is impossible to explain to others who have not experienced them how evil they are.
I walked up Affric for an hour before taking on the Sgurr na Lapaich ridge. The climb involved a steep 2 and a half thousand foot pull which frankly knackered me and I crawled, literally, on to the ridge on hands and knees. Sgurr na Lapaich is to me the most deserving non Munro in the Highlands, I am sure it has nearly a 500 foot drop and distance as well. After the twin giants there is a long trek out to Beinn Fionnlaidh – a full hour from Carn Eighe and back. I actually cut the corner on the outward run but came back over Carn Eighe. From here the weather turned increasingly wet and bleak. The broad ridge winds its way over numerous tops and 2 Munros before I was able to cut south back in to the valley. At the time there was faint track which certainly helped with navigation. I ended sleeping on the banks of Loch Ness having conquered some of the biggest peaks on the Mainland.
1997 West of the Cairnwell Pass in the December snows
I have walked in some snowy conditions in Scotland but this was certainly the most extreme. Fortunately the distances were not too far from the road as the snow undoubtedly tires quickly, disorientates and of course the days are that much shorter.
Day 1. There is a mass of Munros to the west of the A93 and I had split them in to 2 days four and four was the plan if not the reality. In summer they are an easy way to add numbers but in the winter not so. I walked in from the Spittal of Glenshee aiming to do four and ended up with two and some tops. The snow started as I headed up Carn na Righ and then I certainly started to struggle. I immediately turned back but decided to take on one of the Beinn Iutharn Mhor tops. This proved difficult and I was left floundering in thigh deep snow as I turned back east. I was not unduly concerned as I knew there was no difficult terrain and that I would get to the road if I headed east but for an hour it was very hard work and I was conscious of the darkness starting to fall. A good adventure was had but I was forced to return the following year to clock the other 2 Munros to the north. I headed for Braemar for the night in a pleasant B & B. Bracken had a splendid time in the snow even though it was over her head for some of the time!
Day 2. The weather was better the following day but bitterly cold. Snow was on the ground so the distances felt longer than they are. These four do make the easiest day on the Munro calendar with two positioned on the top of the ski slopes. An Socach is the only Munro which is harder to get to but this was mainly because of the snow lying in the gully between it and the other three. Slogging up snow slopes is difficult but a high start made this a comfortable day.
1999 Assynt purely described for a dramatic descent
I was up staying at a cottage in Sutherland with the plan of ticking Ben Hope and the two Assynt Munros. Ben Hope I raced in good weather but the other pair were considerably more challenging. I was up early in the morning and on the hills at 7.30. The walk in to Conival took a couple of hours from Inchnadamph. The weather seemed set fair as I started along the ridge to Ben More Assynt. Bloody hell though, a storm swept in and within minutes it was teeming with rain. Having located the summit I was determined to carry on to the Top but this proved to be a treacherous half hour slipping, sliding on wet quartzite (the famous grey scalp of the these peaks). Once the cairn was located I decided I had to get off the ridge and out of the wind so instead of carrying on south simply ploughed down. I had read this was steep and craggy but I took my chances. A sodden, dangerous descent ensued including one climb down a raging torrent, hauling the poor dog after me. One of the problems was that I had no idea what was below me and envisaged having to climb back on to the wind swept ridge but suddenly I came out the cloud and the tarn I was looking for emerged out the mist; grey and desolate it may have been but very welcoming. From then it was just a long walk back down the valley; by the time I made it to the car the sun was shining brightly. A bath back at the cottage was very welcoming.
1999 Cairngorm. An epic 2 day crossing in a heatwave
I spent hours planning this trip. It was the key to the Cairngorms and needed to be 2 days worth. I very much looked forward to it even though the days planned to be very long.
Day1. I parked on the north side of the Linn of Dee and started the long walk in past Derry Lodge to Derry Cairngorm. Even at this stage it was clear that water was going to be important as the weather was sunny and getting hot. The Plateau can be a very dry place. Once on Derry Cairngorm the scale of the walk was evident. I crossed to Beinn Mheadhoin and then spent a further hour circulating to one of the tops. The long climb up to the summit of Ben Macdui also took a while but in reality I did not need to summit it apart from the fact it was on the way to a top I needed. The summit of Ben Macdui is vast but I was really pleased to view it all in good weather – I am a fortunate person! I dawdled on the long descent towards Carn a Mhaim, at this stage the day looked like it was coming to an end with plenty to spare.
The Currour Bothy is probably the best well known bothy in Scotland as it has a prime position on the Lairg Ghru water shed with good access to the river. However this does mean it is a little squalid and, compared with many, surprisingly small. There were a few people milling about when I arrived about ½ past 5. I brewed and ate for the best part of two hours despite becoming increasingly aware of the midge. I started to read a book but it was no good – I could not bare it. I threw everything in my pack and headed straight up towards the Devil’s Point. Near the col I stopped for a drink and can declare the water was the best in all Scotland. At the col I abandoned my pack and headed off to the Devil’s Point. The views were magnificent and I sat for a good half hour just enjoying them. Finally I wandered back to the col for my high bivvy. Bracken was disturbed by some distant stags but it was all a great experience.
Day 2. An early start had me trailing up the steep track to Cairn Toul and then on to the Angel’s Peak before the heat set in. I found the climb hard work and the quartzite awkward near the summits but I was soon heading down to the Moine Moor before 9. The area around here is generally recognized as the most bleak in Scotland but today it was memorable. I crossed the Alt Luinbeg to climb the most remote top Tom Dubh before a welcome brew. There is something wonderful about the Cairngorm plateau, I think it is part desolation, part space and part the feeling you are somewhere a little edgy. The walk over Monadh Mor, Beinn Bhrotain and the top took a while but was easy walking. Coming off the tops tiredness set in and the walk past White Bridge to the Linn of Dee was hard work, enlivened somewhat by an exceptionally attractive girl who had walked in early morning just for some swimming under the Devil’s Point.
Fantastic weather, a classic round with great terrain probably made this the most enjoyable 2 days trip on the Munros. A further point to make though is that I do enjoy covering distance more than just slogging straight up or down some spectacular peak.
Completing The Tops
June 5th 2009
It took me 5 years to follow up the Munros with their associated Tops. I decided to start doing Tops roughly half way through the Munros which led me on to longer walks than anticipated. However it was only after completing the Munros that things became more mentally difficult. Attempting a single Top almost inevitably required a second go at the Munro so the walk was often repetitive but with ‘a little bit extra added on’ I did attempt alternative routes but these were often longer – at least I did provide some companionship for Alistair who was still going for his first set of Munros.
I had taken going to Scotland for a late in the year trip which meant almost certainly snow. Certainly the 2 tops off the east end of the corries were completed in classic conditions with ice and falling darkness creating a scary crossing to the 2nd top. I also tackled the 2 Aonach Mor tops and Binnach Beag in reasonably deep snow abut these were just exhausting and not particularly thrilling. The top which was always going to create the most difficulty was the Lurg Mhor one as it was remote and the normal route in from Achnashellach was not a thriller. I decided to come in from the Loch Carron side for a change. Probably 12 miles of walking was needed to get to the south side of Lurg Mhor. I pitched the tent and hacked up Lurg Mhor main before attempting the crossing to the Top. This, in the failing light, was considerably more difficult than I had ever thought, a broken leg in November on the Lurg Mhor top would have led to a rather unpleasant night. A great crossing though but it was head torch back to the tent! Rutting stags through the night and a sojourn up the Corbett to the south followed by the long trek out completed an excellent 2 days.
The remaining Tops were clicked off here and there, sometimes part of the Tour, sometimes on my own and sometimes on a work trip – Mullardoch on a Tuesday in glorious sunshine after a meeting with the owner of Bearnock a rather bizarre experience However the end was the best of the lot. My final 4 Tops were epics in their own right; Liathach north top, Knight’s Peak, the Tooth and a planned finale on Sgurr Sgumain. The Liathach top took a while and was steep – suggestion to all Top baggers, do not miss it out when doing the main ridge (similar to Lurg Mhor), you will live to regret it!
In June 2009 we based ourselves at Sligachan camp site. The main day was a guided tour over the Pinnacle Ridge and the Basteir Tooth, the two tops I genuinally felt were beyond my abilities as they needed a certain ability with the rope. As opposed to 2 year’s ago the weather was good, a light easterly offering clear summits but a cooling wind that was welcome on the ridge. Mike Lates was the guide and proved to be an excellent choice; he sussed the 4 of us out on the walk up to the foot of the Pinnacles before strapping us all in to harness and helmet for the remainder of the day. The Pinnacle Ridge was simply excellent scrambling, the gabbro offering amazing grip making the climb so much easier than any other rock face. The main risk was loose rock. Knight’s Peak was reached in good time wityh one abseil only needed off the 3rd Pinnacle. The crossing to Sgurr nan Gillean was a pure pleasure where we met up with Mark P who met us having followed the Tourist track up. Descending the West Ridge proved to be the most challenging bit of the day. The guide took us on an ‘interesting’ ledge off the south side of the ridge which really was a risk. Unroped we shuffled along the ledge not much wider than a boot length trying to avoid the little rolling stones which were the greatest danger. Mark had a moment of vertigo as he had joined us on this stretch of the ridge and in reality the danger was mainly in retrospect rather than at the time. To be fair to the guide he had sussed us out before and knew we were competent but he was also writing a book and I think we were the guinea pigs on this particular route. Good on him! Am Basteir was crumbly and we had a short over hanging abseil off the end which led to the foot of the Tooth. The Tooth was fine before we scuttled back to the col and back down to the Sligachan. A great day.
As was the next as the party split off in its various directions as had become the norm in recent years. I trekked up to Coire Ghrunda with Alistair before separating for the col between Alasdair and Sgumain. Alistair went off to do the Dubhs, Eigg and a bit of canoeing. At the col I dithered, being unable to spot the ascent of Alasdair where I was meeting JP and Mark. Eventually they turned back as they could not see the descent either and returned to Alasdair where I finally completed the Tops…alone on Sgurr Sgumain. However a party on the summit persuaded me to try Alasdair again. The chimney is on the Ghundra side and was really not a big problem, there was even a man throwing his dog up! Alasdair is a magnificent view point so I lingered for a while before running the Stone Shoot and catching up with JP and Mark at its foot. Celebration at the pub at Sconser completed an excellent few days. 502 Munros completed, what next….