Walking the Munros

A few weeks ago, Sheaghna asked me if I planned on completing all of the munros. I never answered her at the time, because I simply didn’t know. There were (and still are) a whole lot of factors in a decision like that.

First of all, it’s a pretty massive undertaking. On average, it takes most people 8 years to complete the full round of munros. That’s a whole lot of time to be spending on hillwalking!

Secondly, there’s the expense. The cost of travel and accommodation for such an undertaking will be pretty massive (just think – you’re talking over £100, just to get from home to Ben More onMull and back, including ferry charges!)

There was the concern about the motivation of walking solo. I know that a whole lot of these walks I would be on my own, so I’d have to get used to a pretty lonely existence, where I’d have to motivate and force myself up the hills

There’s also the danger aspect. Some of the hills and ridges require some serious scrambling and in some cases, rock climbing ability. I’ve pretty much no experience of anything beyond a really easy grade 1 scramble, so there is training costs to deal with and the experiences to be gained there.

There’s probably several other factors which I’ve not considered, too. Either way, the decision to attempt something like that is not one to be taken lightly. After all, there’s allegedly only about 5000 people completed it. (according to the SMC, there are 4764 at time of writing, but there are some who have not announced their claim) To put that in a little perspective, there are about 3000 people who have climbed Everest now (according to THIS site, there was 2700 as of 2009)

Well, after a bit of deliberating, I’ve decided I might as well give it a go! I’m hoping to complete it in 5 or 6 years, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see how long it actually takes. I’m discounting any munros I’ve completed before 2011, so that I can effectively complete the whole round from this year onwards. This means that my current total is 5. Not a particularly high start for the middle of June!

I’ve planned out hiking trips until the end of October, and I reckon I’ll have 30 munros under my belt by then (bear in mind I’ve still got backpacking trips planned, and I’m still walking the West Highland Way in August with Janie, which will take time away from the munros – and in future years I’ll still be doing some regular backpacking, too!), which is less than I would like, but still not too bad.

I’m hoping to go somewhere along the lines of 50 a year from next year onwards.

I’ve already decided on the final hill on the list – Schiehallion. Yes, it’s an easy hill, which is easily ticked off at any time, but it’s purely because it’s easy and reasonably local that I want to save it till the end. I’m hopeful that should the time come, I may have friends and family who want to come along and celebrate the final munro with me. I might as well make things as easy as possible for them!

Janie and I have joined the SYHA (Scottish Youth Hostel Association) for the next 2 years, so I’m planning on taking full advantage of that and setting my base for a good few of the walks at nearby hostels (Torridon, Braemar, Glen Nevis, etc), where I’ll be able to tick off a good few in one go. I’m planning on booking 4-5 day long weekends every month from May to October, where I can head up and spend 3 of those days in the hills, ticking off munros.

One thing I feel I do need to point out is that I have no intention of climbing all the munros purely to tick boxes. I want to see the wildest places inScotland, and this is a good way to do it. I’ve also recently gained a whole new interest in upland habitats, so I’m hopefully I’ll be able to see some interesting plant and animal species, which I’ll not see anywhere else in the UK. At least that’s the plan!

The motivation issue is still a big concern, but hopefully, afterBen Lomond at the weekend, it’s something I’ll get over easily enough. Cost is something I’ll struggle with, even just in terms of petrol, but I’m hopeful I can manage it, particularly if I use the low priced options, such as camping and hostelling.

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