In Scotland a Munro is defined as a mountain with a height over 3,000 feet (914.4 m). The Scottish Mountaineering Club completes the official list of Munros and the best-known Munro is Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the British Isles at 1,345 metres (4,411 ft).
Munros are named after Sir Hugh Munro (1856–1919), who produced the first list of such hills, known as Munro’s Tables, in 1891. As of August 2020, the Scottish Mountaineering Club has listed 282 Munros.
“Munro bagging” is the activity of climbing all the listed Munros. Back in 1986 I was part of the ‘Boots across Scotland’ charity that started by accident when a climber, Davy Pearson, was badly injured on the Etive slabs in the mountains of Glencoe. Davy’s friends decided to try to raise some money to help purchase some specialist equipment to ease his situation.
We set out to have someone on the top of each Munro simultaneously and more than 2,000 of us set out to try to achieve this goal. Even though the attempt failed (severe weather meant we missed out on two summits), in every other respect the day was a tremendous success.
As of July this year 6,768 people have reported climbing all the Munros and Hamish Brown in 1974 became the first man to climb all in one continuous round. I’m miles away from being able to claim to have climbed them all and I’m proud to say I’ve managed to reach the halfway point.
Since being diagnosed with my disease in 2012, I’m sad to say I’ve not managed up many Munros and as the years have advanced I had come to terms with the fact that I would never again stand on the top of a Munro and gaze across a glorious vista. I’m pleased to say I was wrong.
Just over 16 miles from where we live in Scotland is Ben Chonȝie, known as Beinn a’ Chòinnich in Gaelic meaning mossy mountain and rises up to a height of 931m (3,054 ft). I chose this mountain to be my goal to get myself back on top of a Munro. I’m delighted to tell you I reached the summit on the last day of August.
My news pales into insignificance when compared with Donnie Campbell from Inverness. He has just completed all 282 Munros in just 31 days and 23 hours. The 35-year-old, from Inverness began the challenge on Ben More, Isle of Mull, on 1 August and finished on Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro. He ran up each mountain before running, walking, cycling or kayaking to the next one.
This endurance test is hailed as the toughest challenge in the UK and Mr Campbell said it was “mind-blowingly hard”. He climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest 14 times. He ran 1,422km (883 miles) and cycled 1,443km (896 miles) and surprisingly he did not get any blisters. On the final push to the finish he ran for 48 hours without a rest.
Finally, my son Lyle has just finished the West Highland Way the 154km (96 miles) long distance trail from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. During his five days in the wild carrying all his needs, Lyle met fellow walkers on the trail, including the father-in-law of Donnie Campbell.
It’s a small world.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at [email protected]