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winter munros

Typical Cairngorm scenery in the snow

What is a Munro?

We’re off Munro bagging on Skye next week. Does this sound like a foreign language to you? If so we thought we’d add a timely post to the blog just to make sure that our foreign visitors are clear what we’re talking about. What is a Munro? There’s a lot about the language of your home country which you take for granted. Some phrases can even be localised to your own district and even need explaining to your friends and family. “Munros” and “Munro bagging” are hopefully terms which most walkers in the UK are familiar with. If you’re new to hill walking and mountain climbing, here’s a wee guide for you below.

Dictionary definition: What is a Munro?

A Munro is “any of the 277 mountains in Scotland that are at least 3,000 feet high (approximately 914 metres).”

Unfortunately this is not all there is to defining a Munro. All sorts of convoluted rules about the distance between summits and the amount of descent between them are used to separate Murnos and “tops”. These are then regularly reviewed by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland when a new edition of the Munros book is due to be published. The number of Munros can go up and down as peaks are re-classified; or you can be a purist and stick to the list as defined by Sir Hugh Munro himself originally.

Skye Cuillin

Popular view of the Cuillin mountains from the Sligachan area.

What is a Munro & how to “bag” one?

Munro bagging is an addiction which afflicts many dedicated hikers in the UK. As a visitor it may not be immediately obvious what it means. Unlike “train spotting” or “birdwatching” also known as “twitching”, it’s not all in the name. To bag a Munro is to reach the top of the hill then you’re able to tick it off your list. The ultimate aim is to complete a “round” of the Munros. This means that you will have reached the top of all the Munros. What happens when they reclassify though? Do you then have to complete extra routes? Or do you stick with the list as it was when you started your “round”.

A Munro (see definition above) is one of the higher hills in Scotland. Ben Nevis is a Munro so is Cairngorm, Ben Macdui, Sgor Gaoith & Schiehallion among many others. Some are very well-known, some less so. All now have defined paths to the top, usually the most efficient path, rather than the most attractive route as the goal is just to reach the top, not necessarily to take your time doing it.

The sheer quantity of people now “bagging” Munros has created path erosion on the more popular Munros. So much so that a lot of path maintenance has had to be undertaken in places such as Schiehallion.

 Negative: worn paths

The best thing about Munro bagging is that if you are intent on completing the whole list/round, then you will visit parts of Scotland you may never otherwise have gone. There are Munros all over Scotland, not just in the Highlands. Some are more accessible than others. Some require camping to reach them (or very long walks/cycles); others (a minority) require climbing skills, like the Innaccessible Pinnacle on the Cuillin Ridge (Isle of Skye)

Positive: visit parts of Scotland you might never otherwise see.

walking holidays scotland

The spectacular sandstone peaks of Torridon, over 2500 million years old

It doesn’t necessarily pay to be too focused on an arbitrary list. Not all Munros are interesting peaks. Some are boring, rounded lumps. Some efficient routes to the top ignore the more interesting features on the hill (eg Bynack Mor). There are also some peaks in Scotland which are spectacular – but are far less well-frequented because they are not high enough to be Munros. Check out the pictures below and tell me that you wouldn’t want to climb any of these.

lochs and mountains Scotland

Spectacular Scottish coastline, Assynt (Scotland)

Hiking holiday in Scotland

Spectacular views abound in Assynt even though the mountains are not the grandest in height.

Of course, seeing as there is a list for the highest peaks (all those over 3000ft) we couldn’t miss any of the others out, so there are lists for peaks between 2999 – 2500ft (Corbetts) and 2499 – 2000ft, (Grahams) and all those below or alternatively your favourite routes (Marilyns).

What is a Munro? Munro bagging holidays with Scot Mountain Holidays

Skye Cuillin Munros

Autumn Munros

Highland Munros

Winter Munros

Glencoe Munros

Kintail Munros – details available from Scot Mountain Holidays directly

Private trips: Munro blast weekends – please contact Andy for bookings.

 

Related blogs:

Why go Munro bagging in Autumn?

How to bag all 12 Skye Munros in a week

Why come to Scotland in winter?

 

Useful resources:

Redbull article: Munro bagging – the best Scottish adventure you’ve never heard of

Mountaineering Council of Scotland: The Munros

Fraoch Lodge

Announcing the winner of our guided walking weekend

We want to send a big thank you to everyone who participated in our latest contest and helped make it a success! In the end, we had over 300 entrants which was a fantastic result. We also received valuable feedback from the entrants which will be put to good use.

And a special congratulations to Diane Smith, the winner of our Gentle Giants Giveaway Contest. Congrats also go out to Claire Waugh and Clint Dillon for winning the runner up poster prize of the impressive panoramic view of the Cairngorms National Park.

The Prize

 


The Gentle Giants Trip is a great opportunity for Diane Smith and their ‘plus one’ to bag a couple of Munro’s on their guided walking weekend with our very own Andy Bateman. Andy will safely lead the way, sharing his years of in depth knowledge of the area and its natural terrain. On this particular trip, the Munro’s ascended will be Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm in Cairngorms National Park. Did you know that a mountain has to be at least 3000ft in order to qualify as a Munro? And did you know that Ben Macdui is the second highest mountain in the British Isles after Ben Nevis in Fort William?

Orientation Point Ben Macdui

Not only will Diane have a full weekend of walking, but they will take in some spectacular views on the way, such as Loch A’an as they ascend Ben Macdui…

walking weekend in the Cairngorms

Loch A’an (Avon)

Diane will have a delightful view of The Lairig Ghru (with the local pronunciation “Laarig Groo”). It is a spectacular mountain pass through the Cairngorms of Scotland. Historically used as a route between Deeside and Strathspey, in particular, a drove road for taking livestock on foot from one place to another.

walking weekend

The Lairig Ghru

In addition to the walking

And it doesn’t stop there. After an active day out on the hill, Diane and company get to put their feet up at Fraoch Lodge and enjoy a cuppa and cake o’clock which always goes down a treat. Tidying them over until it’s time for a delicious and hearty home cooked supper to set them up for the following days adventure.


 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, the competition was such a success that we’ll be holding them more frequently. You’ll have a chance to enter to win our next giveaway coming soon 🙂 We look forward to welcoming …….. to the Scottish Highlands to enjoy their prize. 

How to bag all the Skye Munros in a week:

Every Skye Munro and all the hospitality in a single package

May 2016 was the month for the west coast to shine. The two weeks we picked to take our guests on an exploration of Skye and Knoydart proved Andy’s method of following UK weather singularities as guidelines for our trips really pays dividends in seizing optimal conditions; it was glorious wall-to-wall sunshine – no one had brought enough sunscreen, t-shirts or shorts.

Am Basteir, Skye

View of Am Basteir from Sligachan (taken by John Cromie).

We set off from Boat of Garten around lunchtime with a quick detour to Aviemore station for the first of our scheduled pick-ups, then we were on to Inverness airport. (Multiple pick-up options offer the most flexible transport to our clients.) We then traveled to Skye and met the last of our guests in Sligachan; they were already on the isle.

Sunset over the Cuillin Munros

Sunset over the Cuillin hills in Skye

The concept

Itineraries and payments were arranged in advance, leaving the guests to travel stress free over accommodation, food and guiding. We arranged a comfortable cottage for the group and Rebecca created and catered the menu. Late evening meals were always an option so guests needn’t worry over hotel dinner hours. We are happy to do this, as we did on Skye, as some evenings all were more interested in enjoying the glorious hilltop weather before heading back to eat.

Skye Munros

Topping out on the Inaccessable Pinnacle in glorious sunshine weather, Skye May 2016

The walkers and climbers were able to concentrate on their activity while the support team (Rebecca and Gregor) took care of the food and pick-ups for linear routes, ensuring everyone’s comfort and satisfaction, because as a team we are always focused on exceeding expectations!

In brief

Skye for Hillwalkers and Skye Black Cuillin Munros

Price: £845 Hillwalkers; £915 Munro-baggers.

Number of days: 7 nights on the Isle of Skye; once a year offer.

Accommodation: Self-catering cottage (all meals prepared by your hosts).

Achievement: 12 Munros.

Guides: 2 Instructors.

Our menu included (sample): Spiced beef and bashed beans. Salmon with soya sauce and ginger. Venison pie. Chicken with lentil and rosemary. Tomato and goat cheese tart. Self-saucing chocolate pudding. Fruit cheesecake. Wild garlic soup.

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