What Is A Munro Bagger? My Explanation
If you’ve spent at least a couple of days in Scotland, or more specifically the Highlands, you’re bound to have come across the term ‘munro bagging’ or a ‘munro bagger’ which has probably brought you to ask ‘What is a munro bagger?’
Simply put, a munro bagger is somebody who makes it their mission to conquer all of Scotland’s mountains which have an elevation of greater than 3000 feet (914 metres). This mountain is classified as a ‘munro’ and there are 282 of them in Scotland, all located in the Highlands. Categorising mountains in the UK is quite the thing, you can read my article about the mountains in Scotland for a more in-depth analysis.
Munro bagging is a popular hobby for Scots and outsiders alike. It’s not uncommon on the hills to meet groups from England, Ireland and Wales who have travelled great distances for a weekend of munro bagging. What’s slightly more uncommon, but it still occasionally happens, is meeting someone from overseas who has taken on this ambitious task.
How Long Does It Take?
Generally, there are two types of munro bagger: the type who goes hiking in the Scottish Highlands out of sheer enjoyment and appreciation of the views in store, or the type who makes it their goal to bag every munro as fast as possible in any weather condition. The former of the two is more common and tends to take several years of dedicated hiking. The latter will usually have a fixed time goal which really depends on the individual. Currently, the record for reaching the summit of the 282 peaks is held by hill-runner Stephen Pyke who completed them in an astonishing 39 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes.
It’s worth noting that this record would have been set by him barely sleeping and spending almost every minute of every day out on the hills. He’d also have needed quite a lot of support.
Even completing them all in as much time as a year is a seriously tough feat, it would mean averaging 5.5 peaks every week and an insane amount of travelling around the country. It’s obviously made a lot easier if you live in the highlands but even then some peaks take hours of driving to reach.
Whatever your way of doing it, all munro baggers have the same goal in common: to earn the title ‘Munroist’. A Munroist is the title given to you once you have bagged them all. In the hiking community, being titled a ‘Munroist’ is deemed as a much greater honour than the ‘Sir’ in a knighthood. This is also sometimes referred to as a ‘Compleatist’, spelled that way because somebody is trying to coin the term, but ‘Munroist’ is definitely more common.
When you attain the title ‘Munroist’, one of two things tends to happen: you never climb another peak as long as you live, OR you have become truly addicted to the mountains and decide to take on Scotland’s lesser peaks, the Corbetts and Grahams.
Can Anybody Do It?
As long as you have a keen interest in mountaineering and hiking then yes, anybody can do it. There is no munro which I would class as ‘easy’, although there are some which I would recommend beginner munro baggers to start with. A couple of examples are Ben Wyvis and Fionn Bheinn.
I recently met a guy hiking a munro near the Cairngorms with his young daughter who can’t have been any older than 10 years old. I also regularly meet retired groups or individuals who make it their retirement goal to scale all of Scotland’s munros. I once met a guy who must have been in his 70s starting a long trek over 2 munros in Glen Affric at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Brave if you ask me!
The youngest to bag all of Scotland’s 282 munros is currently held by a 9-year-old. I was recently reading, however, that there’s a 10-month-old baby after this record, whether being in a baby-carrier counts as bagging a munro or not I don’t know. I’ll leave that for you to decide!
How Can You Prove You’ve Done It?
Most people are doing it as a hobby and really don’t have any need to ‘prove’ that they’ve reached the peak of all the munros. People just trust them and that’s that.
If for some reason somebody wants proof, or you just want to prove to people that you’ve reached the peak, then the most common way is to get a photo of or with the cairn on each summit. The cairn is the pile of stones at the top of every munro. They range from a few stones to well-built towers up to 3 metres high.
Some More Facts:
- The munros are all located in the Highlands of Scotland.
- 13 are not on the mainland – 12 being on the Isle of Skye and 1 on the Isle of Mull.
- The most climbed munro is Ben Lomond which is also the furthest south, a short drive from Glasgow.
- The most northerly munro is Ben Hope, 249 miles (401 km) from Ben Lomond, approximately a 7 hour drive.
- The Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye is not only seen as the hardest munro, but also the hardest peak on the British Isles.
- The narrowest ridge in the UK is Aonach Eagach in Glencoe.
- The highest peak, Ben Nevis, has a summit of 1345 metres (4413 ft) but is not a difficult climb by comparison.
- The smallest munros are Ben Vane and Beinn Teallach, both with a summit of 915 metres (3002 ft).
- Deaths are recorded every year, showing that Scotland’s mountains shouldn’t be taken lightly.
- There are more than 6000 recorded ‘munroists’ as of May 2017.
Not only do you get the immense satisfaction of ticking them off as you go, but you also get to be entirely immersed in some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. There’s really nothing quite like being on top of a mountain and just surrounded by rolling peaks as far as the eye can see.
- Equip yourself with a good raincoat whatever the time of year, Scottish weather is unpredictable even in summer.
- Don’t rely purely on electronics even though it is tempting, always carry a map of the area and compass. Conditions in Scotland’s mountains can change for the worse very quickly.
- Do your research. It’s common to be able to climb 2, 3 or 4 (even up to 7) munros in one day due to several being close together or attached by a ridge.
- Take extra care hiking in the winter. This is much more difficult and conditions can get dangerous without much warning.
- Convince a friend/relative to go with you on the longer hikes – it can be a long day (or several days).
- Spend a bit more for some good hiking boots – the terrain is often pathless and boggy.
- Get a decent camera/smartphone capable of taking good photos. Trust me, it’s worth it.
What is a munro bagger? Somebody who makes it their mission to reach the summit of all Scotland’s 282 munros.
Now you know what a munro bagger is. There are a few ways you can track your progress as a munro bagger. My personal favourite is using the website MunroMap website which allows you to log the munros as you go and write a little something to remind you of the hike when looking back. You can also log your progress of the Corbetts if you decide to tackle these lesser peaks.
As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you have any questions or anything to add then please write in the comments box below. 🙂