Why I started bagging Munros (and Munros 3&4!)

Why I started bagging Munros (and Munros 3&4!)

This weekend it dawned on me, I am a Munro Bagger. No longer am I ‘thinking about climbing a Munro’, I’m not discussing when, or saying that ‘sometime next month we might do a Munro’, but instead I’m all, ‘’this weekend? Yep! Which one shall we do?’… and then I am actually getting out there and bagging Munros. 

bagging Munros

This is a Munro, a Scottish Mountain over 3000ft (914m).

I must admit that until a few months ago, I was the definitive stuck in a rut late-30-something. My fitness was through the floor and physically and mentally I was tired.

I wasn’t sure what to do about it – exercise was the obvious solution, but I’d never enjoyed the gym, it turns out I’m hopeless at following a leader (you would call my dancing ‘free spirited’) and team sports just aren’t my bag. I’d tried Pilates, body balance, and yoga, but got bored.

Instead, I decided I needed a real challenge. I needed something to really push me, to drag me out of a lazy, wine drinking, descent into middle age. So we decided to climb a Munro – Ben Vorlich at Loch Earn – which turned out to be 985m of pure mountain climbing pain. 

I survived. Obviously. Although I really wasn’t sure I could do it, until I well, I did it. 

After Vorlich, I wrote a Beginners Guide to Climbing a Munro and looking back at that post, my love of that first Munro really shines through. The Mountains! Scenery! Scotland!

OK, there was a lot of pain, there was lots of ‘oh my god I can’t do this’ but I found I was just itching to do it all over again.  So we did. We climbed Ben Lomond in 25-degree heat. I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time.

It turns out that I love climbing mountains. Who knew?

bagging Munros

bagging Munros

Last weekend we took on our next challenge – to climb two Munros in one day.

We chose Beinn Ghlass (1103m) and Ben Lawers (1214m) in Perthshire, which seemed the ‘easiest’ way of bagging two Munros at once – you start you start from the National Trust for Scotland car park at 400m, before popping over the smaller Beinn Ghlas and then climbing up to Ben Lawers, the UK’s 10th highest mountain.

After leaving Loch Tay behind, the walk starts in Ben Lawers Nature ReserveThe Loch and car park was covered in cloud when we arrived at 10am and ascending out of the cloud inversion we didn’t hit bright sunshine at about 600m. By this point I was walking in just a gym top!

You might also like...  Climbing our first Munro!

However, it was October and at around 1000m, the wind really started to pick up and I was rather thankful for the cosy comfort of my new Extrem Micro Down Jacket c/o Berghaus. The jacket fitted me like a glove, and it kept me cool and snug in the almost alpine air.

As Scottish mountains rarely look like this, I can’t stress it enough that a coat, clothing & boots designed for the conditions are essential. The clouds can descend in seconds and rain is always on the horizon.

The day before we got caught in an un-forecasted downpour (what, in Scotland?) and thankfully, the jacket’s water-repellent which has been built into the insulated hydrodown by UK outdoor company Nikwax really did stand up to the task.  Thanks Berghaus and Nikwax!

But back to the mountains…

ben-lawers-3

view-from-ben-lawers

bagging Munros

bagging Munros

Whilst no Munro climb is ‘easy’, we found the climb on the very well maintained National Trust for Scotland path really good going and we got up and down (including doing Beinn Ghlas twice!) in 4 hours rather than the predicted 5-6. It did help that the weather was stunning!

We’ve obviously got a long way to go with this bagging Munros task, as after this weekend there are still 278 Munros left on the list! At this rate it will take me 70 years; I’ll need to up my rate to 28 a year just to get through them all.

So, instead of reaching for the mythical compleated target, I have decided that next Spring we are going to climb Ben Nevis, the UKs highest mountain. As I am a glutton for punishment I also plan to climb Nevis after walking the 96 miles  (154km) West Highland Way. Gulp.

So it is training time. Next up we are heading to the mythical Glencoe and climbing either Buachaaille Etive Mor, or Beag depending on the weather, and then in February we are going to attempt a winter ascent of Ben Chonzie. Never tell me I don’t have a plan for punishment! 

ben-lawers-nts

Love from, Scotland x

Our walk was Ben Lawers via Walk Highlands.
Plan for 4 hours+ as we had a pretty good stomp on us and the weather was really on our side!

 

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42 Comments

  1. melchaddphotos
    05/10/2016 / 11:25 am

    Uh-ma-zing. Looks fabulous.

    I am knocking on the door of four-zero and part of the reasons we moved to Scotland was to get out more. Today is out one year anniversary since moving and, as of yet, we haven’t done anywhere near as much walking as as would have liked.

    Maybe your posts will be the kick up the butt I need….

    • Love from, Smidge
      06/10/2016 / 10:16 am

      Should we start a kicking four-zero club together? It’s very close for me too!

  2. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    05/10/2016 / 5:23 pm

    This is brilliant – good for you, finding a way to keep fit that you love. Maybe this is something I should do more of: we enjoyed our walks in Snowdonia and the Devon coastline. I seem to have more energy walking and hiking than I do in an exercise class. You might just have inspired me! Just returned from a week in Scotland and can’t wait to go back.
    #mondayescapes

    • Love from, Smidge
      06/10/2016 / 10:17 am

      I think its the added scenery that does it for me, plus the fresh air. Autumn smells gorgeous here in Scotland right now!

  3. 05/10/2016 / 8:23 pm

    Great stuff! I’m yet to bag a Munro personally, but judging by the photos of the rugged scenery here it’s all worth it for the scenery. I have climbed Ben Nevis twice, the second time as part of the three peaks challenge, and man was that hard…but I’m sure you will be both mentally and physically prepared, what with all that training and doing the West Highland Way beforehand. Good luck! 🙂

    • Love from, Smidge
      06/10/2016 / 10:18 am

      Hi Joe! Well in climbing Ben Nevis – you HAVE bagged a Munro – and the biggest out of all of them 🙂 Well done you.

  4. 05/10/2016 / 9:08 pm

    I had no idea what a Munro was but I love them now! I used to try to hike mountains but now am too out of shape. However, your post is very inspiring. I think I could climb a Munro or two. Very nice post and the photos are done nicely. Good luck with your training and hope you bag a few more.

  5. kallsypage
    06/10/2016 / 2:35 am

    Wow! What a rush. My husband and I are avid hikers but there is only so much you can do to prepare for hikes like this one. I appreciate the information and hope to use your advice and inspiration to do this myself someday. 🙂

  6. 06/10/2016 / 10:15 am

    So very awesome. I will admit that being an Oregon Girl living in Denmark – I very much miss mountains! Thank you for educating me on the definition of “munro” – learned something today! I love the last photo and think it is an excellent life motto – “Look well to each step.” Super – as the Danes would say! Cheers from Copenhagen and thank you so much for engaging in our new travel blogging community #FarawayFiles – we look forward to more from you! Erin

    • Love from, Smidge
      06/10/2016 / 10:22 am

      Hi Erin, thanks for popping by! I love the full version of that quote. It certainly is one to live by!

      “Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”
      ― Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps

      • 06/10/2016 / 10:24 am

        SUPER AWESOME. Except – I don’t always know the end to the path that I’ve started and I’m ok with that too! Cheers, Erin

  7. 06/10/2016 / 11:31 am

    How fantastic. You sure beat that rut to a pulp with all that ‘munro-ing’! There is an incredible feeling of satisfaction after you have climbed something high. This is a very inspiring post. Good luck with your Ben Nevis training.

  8. 06/10/2016 / 11:57 am

    Love this! After climbing Cairn Gorm last year I think I might also be a little addicted… my love of mountains was reinforced by ascending Snowdon last month too!

    • Love from, Smidge
      07/10/2016 / 1:13 pm

      Oh yes, have you blogged about Snowdon? We will be doing that next year too!

  9. 06/10/2016 / 12:39 pm

    What a great way to stay fit and enjoy some amazing views!

  10. Clare Thomson
    06/10/2016 / 3:00 pm

    How wonderful that you’ve discovered a love for a new outdoor activity – good exercise, amazing views and a brilliant way to spend a weekend! I love walking but haven’t climbed that many mountains. You’ve totally convinced me I should! Thank you. Thanks too for linking up with our first ever #FarawayFiles. It’s lovely to have you with us.

  11. 06/10/2016 / 4:13 pm

    Sounds so Norwegian! People here actually make it a competition to climb like 10 mountains or so each summer. It has an official name and you get a certificate and everything 😀 I wish I had more energy to do the same – those views are just so pretty!

  12. 06/10/2016 / 6:25 pm

    What a great challenge to set yourself, especially as it’s already making a difference to your health. I haven’t climbed a mountain since having kids but it something I’d love to do again once they’re old enough. Snowden on the train is probably as close as we’ll get at the moment #MondayEscapes

  13. 06/10/2016 / 8:37 pm

    I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea what “bagging munros” meant until reading this post! Such a funny expression. But I also love treking and hiking! It’s my favorite way to exercise and is the opposite of boring. I’ve felt so many of the same “screw this” “cant do this” feelings, but the view always makes the pain worth it! And boy are these some views!!! Looks absolutely stunning!!

  14. 06/10/2016 / 10:23 pm

    I need to get in on the munro action! I’ve only ever climbed Bennachie and Arthurs Seat and they’re hardly mountains… I keep promising myself we’ll do more and you’re inspiring me to get off my ass and do it!

  15. 07/10/2016 / 2:09 am

    That’s wonderful that you took on the munros as a challenge. Have enjoyed reading about your munro bagging experiences!

  16. 07/10/2016 / 1:25 pm

    If I were 20 years younger I might feel tempted, by the view if nothing else! TBH though I’ve always been more of a person for walking along rather than up – coastal paths and forest trails instead of up a hill.

  17. 08/10/2016 / 9:17 am

    Good luck – I have a few walking friends who have completed all of the Munro’s and I know how much of an obsession it becomes! I have climbed a few but there are some scary ones out there which I won’t do 🙂

  18. 08/10/2016 / 11:05 am

    You can’t find a better way to stay young and healthy than climbing. Fresh air and a challenge. Good luck with your training for the big one next year!

  19. 08/10/2016 / 2:04 pm

    Scotland is my dream destination and its through your blog I got introduced to Munro. I am going to climb them too once I plan a visit.

  20. erikastravels
    08/10/2016 / 2:41 pm

    I love your unique writing style! This post really stands out from other all the “top 10 things” posts. Your photos are stunning too, and certainly make the case for why Scotland should be on everyone’s bucket list. Looks like you have some fun adventures planned for the next year too!

  21. Soraya @ Hello Raya
    09/10/2016 / 8:13 am

    Those views are just stunning!!!! I have heard that Scotland is beautiful, and your post is definitely proving it. I really resonated with what you said about being in your 30’s and not so fit… but I too LOVE climbing mountains. I don’t know what it is… I struggle running 5kms, but a few hours hiking up a mountain? No worries!

  22. 09/10/2016 / 10:59 am

    I can totally relate about getting bored in a gym. Haha! I would prefer a quick weekend trek to burn some calories too. You have amazing pictures by the way. 🙂

  23. 09/10/2016 / 11:04 am

    I had no clue what a Munro was until I read this post. How cool that you have discovered you love climbing mountains. The countryside in Scotland looks spectacular.

  24. Christina
    09/10/2016 / 11:07 am

    Yay, you did it! Congratulations on making it to the top. Scotland is beautiful and mystical. More importantly, you’ve pulled yourself out of a rut and achieved something you’re proud of. What’s next? Everest?

  25. Maja
    09/10/2016 / 3:46 pm

    I also started hiking recently (the story goes similar to yours) so I’m super curious – how do you prepare for the hiking? Obviously I need to reach higher level of fitness, but how if I don’t like anything else…
    ps. This scenery really makes you keep going!

    • Love from, Smidge
      10/10/2016 / 10:15 am

      I find just walking on the flat helps. I try to walk 100+ miles a month (actually not as far as it seems, 10000 steps a day!) which has helped build up my stamina. An easy Munro is about 10 miles, so if you can do that then you will be able to work on the actual climb. It is def not as hard as it looks – honest!

  26. 09/10/2016 / 4:02 pm

    What an accomplishment! This looks like a much better way to get fit than spending time at the gym. Scotland is so beautiful!

  27. 09/10/2016 / 5:52 pm

    Glad to know that you found inspiration for yourself in nature. Your captures of Munros are stunning. We believe nature is capable of infusing will and positiveness into anyone anytime 🙂

  28. 09/10/2016 / 9:11 pm

    Those are some great views. Nice you have a hiking buddy! I am always looking for new hikes when I travel! And it is great exercise too!! I need to do more local hiking to prepare for future hikes when I travel.

  29. 10/10/2016 / 4:32 am

    Thanks for teaching me what a Munros is (they say you should learn something new every day!) and congrats on finding something that you love so much that has a secondary effect of being really good for you! At 30 my fitness is through the floor – maybe I should give climbing mountains a shot – even if it’s just to get stunning photographs!

  30. 10/10/2016 / 8:50 pm

    The view is absolutely breathtaking! To be frank, I didn’t even know what a Munros was before you mentioned it here, I would probably call it (wrong) just a mountain (even though mountains are a big deal for me coming from a flat country haha). Good luck with the rest of them, I hope you’ll finish them all by your 70s haha.

  31. Bethanny Sudibyo
    11/10/2016 / 8:38 pm

    Such an interesting story you share! And your pictures are super beautiful as well. I’ve never heard about Munros before, so thank you for sharing! Good luck for the rest of your journey <3

  32. travelingchristie
    11/10/2016 / 11:05 pm

    Wow how incredible, and that a great way to keep fit, good luck for Ben Nevis. Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

  33. 11/05/2017 / 9:29 am

    Wow, that sea of cloud! Such incredible scenery. I had hoped to get into walking more here in NZ but haven’t quite managed to make a habit of it yet! But this is seriously inspiring me to get out into nature.

  34. Liam
    18/08/2017 / 4:11 pm

    I’ve climbed three so far (Ben Lomond, Ben Chonzie and Ben Vorlich Loch Earn) over the summer, after being inspired by your posts! Heading up to do Ghlass and Lawers this weekend. Rain be damned!

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