Munro Bagging by Numbers
While most of us are happy to enjoy the great outdoors as a relaxing escape, there are those who see adventure, competition and achievement around every corner. One such man was Sir Hugo Munro, a Scottish mountaineer who compiled a list of mountains in Scotland with the aim of climbing them all, and encouraging others to do the same. Today, the munros are an important part of Scottish outdoors culture, and anyone visiting the Cairngorms, the Scottish Highlands, or the Loch Lomond area will find plentiful options to gain the true Scottish mountaineering experience. Let’s find out more.
A munro has a fairly simple definition; it’s any mountain in Scotland over 3000ft in height, and there’s no requirement for what’s called ‘topological prominence’ either, which means the peak doesn’t have to be fully independent. However, some do only regard those peaks with a topological prominence of 150m as a ‘real munro’. This height means that a great many munros are accessible to people without any particular hiking experience.
There are 292 munros according to the most recent publication by the Scottish Mountaineering Club. This number has been revised a few times since Hugo Munro published his first list more than a century ago. Sgùrr nan Ceannaichean is an example of a mountain that was previously a munro but is now instead just a corbett. It was added to the list in 1981, but when remeasured around ten years ago, it was found to be 2996ft - just short.
There’s a relatively small club of people that have managed a full round of the current designated munros, with around 6000 people that are believed to have done it. And if you manage to bag all of the peaks (known as ‘compleation’, in line with the old spelling), then you’re entitled to call yourself a Munroist. The youngest Munroists are in their teens, and on average it takes people eight years to do their round, which is shorter than the lifetime you might expect.
Bagging all of the munros is no easy feat, but many are close enough that several can be done in a single day. That means that the record completion time for all of the munros is an impressive 40 days (or just under), which was set in 2010 by a man called Stephen Pyke. You’d have to have some serious experience and plan very well indeed to match this impressive feat. There are also those who’ve completed the full round without using any form of motorised transport, which requires peak physical condition.
Ben Nevis is the tallest of all the munros, at 4413ft in height, and it is of course also the tallest mountain in the whole of the United Kingdom. Despite being very tall, ascent is generally straightforward and can be attempted by those with a little hillwalking experience, with more than 100,000 making the trip every year. That’s not to say there aren’t accidents however - bad weather has claimed lives over the years.