Fancy climbing a Munro in Scotland?
If you are thinking of bagging a Munro here are my pick of the easiest Munros for beginners and how to climb them.
It is the drama of the mountains which give the Scottish Highlands their character and with 282 Munros – Scottish mountains over 3000ft / 914m – to ‘bag’ – climbing them is a national pastime. If you fancy starting bagging Munros, here are my recommended Munros for beginners. I’ve climbed them all – so you can too!
Best Munros for beginners
So which are the best Munros for beginners?
1 – Ben Lomond, Loch Lomond
With stunning views of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park from even halfway up and under an hour’s drive from Glasgow, you can see why over 30,000 people climb to the top of 974m high Ben Lomond every year. The climb starts from the car park at Rowardennan (£3/day) on the east side of Loch Lomond – be warned, on a good day car park can be jam-packed and you will be following a stream of people heading up into the hills, they don’t call Ben Lomond ‘Loch Lomond’s Sauchiehall Street’ for nothing! Munro no.1 – done!
Beginners Tip 1 – Be warned, your first Munro means climbing continually upwards for at least 2 hours. It will be hard work whatever your fitness – and for my first Munro, I had absolutely none! If you have never hill walked before it is worth climbing these beginners hills in Scotland first to work up some hill stamina, but all the pain is utterly worth it, I promise.
2 – Ben Vorlich, Loch Earn
After Ben Lomond, Ben Vorlich or ‘The Hill of the Bay’ at Loch Earn (don’t mistake this one for the one at Loch Lomond, below) is one of the most popular beginners Munros as it is easily accessible from both Edinburgh (in fact it is the closest Munro to Edinburgh) and Glasgow, the climb is straightforward and there is great path up to the top. Plus the views to tougher neighbour Stuc a’Chroin, down to Loch Earn and across to the Ben Lawers range on Loch Tay across the whole of Perthshire are stunning.
3 – Meall Nam Tarmachan, Loch Tay
Gaelic for the ‘Hill of the Ptarmigan’, Meall Nam Tarmachan in the Ben Lawers Range above Loch Tay is probably my favourite Munro (to date). Access to Meall Nam Tarmachan is from the Ben Lawers car park at 400m which makes this a very quick Munro climb with rewarding views for very little work. For a full day out take the spectacular, but a lot more challenging, Tarmachan Ridge back down.
4 – Schiehallion, Loch Tummel
Schiehallion (1,083m) is arguably the most ‘mystical’ of all the Munros due to its name meaning “Fairy Hill of the Caledonians”. I’ve also read people call Schiehallion the ‘constant storm’ due to the often nasty weather conditions on its slopes. However, Schiehallion is a great beginners Munro due to the well-made path most of the way up the mountain, which until you reach the boulder field at the top, makes for very easy going.
5 – Ben Chonzie, Glen Lednock
Don’t let anyone tell you Ben Chonzie is the most boring of all the Munros. OK, for view hunters, it’s not that exciting at the top (if you can see anything) as it is the highest point in a large amount of moorland, but it is its location in Glen Lednock that I love – especially the view across to Ben Vorlich. Ben Chonzie also has a quick and easy ascent on a mountain track for most of the way up. Don’t attempt Chonzie in poor weather, or without a map and compass – once you leave the path the top is quite featureless.
Beginners Tip 3 – you cannot hill walk with a route plotted onto a Google map. Instead, you will need an Ordnance Survey map of your route and a compass. However, carrying a map is also useless if a) you don’t know how to read it, and, b) you have no idea where you are. However, you’ll be surprised how many people won’t admit either, so start by practising with a map – Ordnance Survey have a Map Reading Made Easy Guide.
6 – Ben Nevis
The UK’s biggest hill is actually one of the most popular Munros for beginners, so join the 150,000 people who attempt to climb to the summit each year. The main route up Ben Nevis is the ‘Mountain Path’ – also known as the ‘the Ben Nevis tourist route’ – which makes it sound easy – it is not. Ben Nevis is a 5-mile slog uphill – and often with no visibility. Don’t expect to get a view from Scotland’s highest mountain, the top of Ben Nevis is clear on average just 14 days a year!
However, if you do get a clear day, the views across Scotland and down to Fort William and Loch Linnhe, and as far as the Isle of Mull is absolutely stunning which makes that slog worth it. No view? Well, you’ve still stood on the top of the UK…
7 – Ben Vane, Loch Lomond
The smallest of all the Munros at just 914m, Ben Vane is also one of the toughest, climbing steeply up from Loch Lomond over a series of false summits and scrambly bits. However, the reward from the top is a fabulous view across the Arrochar Alps, Ben Lomond and across to the Trossachs, Ben Ledi and Ben Venue. Watch out – this hill is a bit of a knee killer on the way back down!
8 – Ben Vorlich, Loch Lomond
The ‘Arrochar Alps’ stand tall above the north end of Loch Lomond and from the loch the mighty Ben Vorlich (‘Hill of the Bay’) is the most dramatic. Climbed from the hydroelectric dam at Loch Sloy, be warned, the hike up Ben Vorlich is very steep and boggy and leads you up a series of false summits.
However, all that effort is seriously worth it – like Ben Vane the view across Loch Lomond, to Ben Lomond and to the rest of the Arrochar Alps is simply stunning. For Munro Baggers, the trig point at 941m isn’t actually the top of Ben Vorlich, 943m is marked by a cairn further up the summit plateau.
9 & 10 – Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers, Loch Tay
By this point, you will probably be realising just how long it would take you to ‘bag’ all 282 Munros. Time to start multiple bagging!
The easiest way to bag your first multiple Munros is to climb Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers. Why? Well, Ben Lawers (1214m) might be the 10th highest mountain in Scotland, but thankfully you don’t have to climb all of it. It isn’t quite as hard as it seems… Starting at 400m at the Ben Lawers Nature Reserve you pop over the small Beinn Glass (1103m) before finally climbing up to the summit of Ben Lawers. You can return back over Beinn Ghlas or there is a path around the side. Two Munros – just like that (technically three, we did Beinn Ghlas twice!)
Beginners Tip 4 – never rely technology. Why? read the full story of why I will never take a mobile phones for granted again – hopefully, you might pick up some tips too!
11 & 12 – Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire Leith, Loch Tay
Meall Corranaich & Meall a’Choire Leith are hidden away at the back of the Ben Lawers range. The hills give great views back over the whole Ben Lawers range and over the Lairig an Lochain mountain pass and reservoir. From the bealach (pass) between the Munros you can also watch all the other walkers trudging up the side of the big hill – Ben Lawers. This is also a short hill walk as you start at 500m – 3 hours and lots of peat bogs later you will be back at the car.
Beginners Tip 5 – never climb without safety gear – always carry an Ordnance Survey Map, compass (learn how to use it), waterproof map bag, head torch, bivvy bag, and lighter or matches. We also carry a first aid kit, and a whistle. I use the OS and Viewranger Apps and carry an extra battery pack charger. Don’t forget water, food, and sweets for a sugar boost – you might need them on the way down.
13 & 14 – Driesh and Mayar, Cairngorms
This pair of slightly unremarkable Munros sit above the rather remarkable glacial bowl that is Corrie Fee, making for a memorable day out. As a beginner, Mayar and driesh are a great introduction to the Cairngorm Plateau. Whilst the Munros tops themselves might be a little dull, the views of the plateau are utterly desolate and wide-ranging. You can really feel just how inhabited parts of Scotland really are.
Beginners Tip 6 – I wear leather waterproof walking boots (I recommend Scarpa), good hiking socks, and waterproof or windproof trousers. On top, I wear multiple base layers and a in dry weather hydro down jacket. Because the weather can change so quickly I also always carry a hard shell waterproof jacket. I love my fleece lined hat and I always keep climbing gloves handy for any scrambly bits.
15 & 16 – Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime, Arrochar
The ‘Arrochar Alps’ loom over Loch Long and the Alp’s most famous peak, The Cobbler is one of Scotland’s most popular short hill walks. The Munros are another story altogether. You can climb Beinn Narnain and the highest of the range, Ben Ime in one route. Despite its lack of height, Beinn Narnain is a tough little hill and Ben Ime is a boggy slog, but boy, are the views of the surrounding hills, including the Cobbler are worth it. Especially if you get an inversion…
17 & 18 – Ben More and Stob Binnein, Crianlarich
Ben More by Crianlarich is one of Scotland’s toughest hills – and the biggest hill in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Ben More and Stob Binnein come with a health warning – the climb up the front of the Munro is relentlessly steep. You can cheat slightly by climbing up the bealach between the two hills, before climbing Stob Binnein and then Ben More, heading down the front face of the mountain. Even doing it this way my legs were agony for days and it still felt like a huge achievement – Ben More should never be underestimated.
19 & 20 – Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe
If you have a hankering for climbing the Scottish mountains, then driving through Glencoe they will call your name. However, the mountains here are not for the faint of heart. The weather can be wild, the ascent steep and relentless and you will be facing your first ridges and scrambles. Bring on the challenge! Being beginners, Buachaille Etive Mor is a famously tough Munro so instead climb its little(r) neighbour Buachaille Etive Beag.
The Buachaille (or ‘herdsmen’) actually means the ‘pass’ between two Munros, after a very steep ascent, Stob Coire Raneach is to the right and Stob Dubh to the left. From the peak of Stob Dubh you can see all the way down into Glen Etive and across to Buacheille Etive Mor. It is a whole different perspective on Glencoe…. and Scotland
Addicted yet? You soon will be!
WANT MORE MUNROS?
Scotland’s best day hikes – including a walking marathon through two of Scotland’s best glens
Work your way up to bagging a Munro – 10 best hills for beginners in Scotland
Don’t fancy hill walking? – here are Scotland’s best short walks
Warning – climbing Scotland’s mountains in winter is for the experienced and very well prepared hill walker.
If you are a beginner please read my guide to hill walking in Scotland before attempting any of these routes.
All of these Scotland mountains are suitable for those with a reasonable amount of fitness – there is no scrambling or rock climbing required!
Love from Scotland x