Munros: What, Why and How

Updated: Aug 18

What is a Munro?

Munros are Scottish mountains over 914.4 metres (3,000ft) high.


They are named after Sir Hugh Munro who drew up the first list in 1891. Since then ‘Munro bagging’ has developed, whereby individuals try to summit every Munro. There are 282 Munros, so this is no mean feat! Individuals attempt the challenge over the course of a year, a decade, or a lifetime. A select few have even summited every Munro in one continuous self-propelled effort.


Bagging a Munro and watching the sunset. Knoydart, December 2021.

Why do we run up them?

Because it is fun! Getting out into beautiful locations, the physical satisfaction, achieving a goal, spending time with friends, seeing wildlife, getting off the beaten track.. running up a Munro is great fun for a huge variety of reasons. Some Munros are more fun than others, and there are some you definitely wouldn’t bother with unless you’re trying to bag them all, but the main motivation is always simply having a good time.



How do you run Munros safely?

Running up a Munro can sound intimidating but truly is an achievable goal for everyone (even the elites walk most of the uphill anyway!). There are, however, skills which will keep you safer and happier when out on the hills: navigation, an understanding of weather conditions, use of poles, what to pack, fuelling, etc.


Girls on Hills run a number of courses which will help to get you skilled up and ready for your Munro adventures.


Keeping our wits about us up a new Munro in the Cairngorms. May 2021.

Our favourite Munros

A Munro can hold a special place for many reasons. Below is a list of some of our favourite routes in the area. They're mountainous, rugged and wild routes that take in some spectacular Munros.


Ballachulish

These Munros lie a short drive south of Fort William, and with a short run in are some of the quickest to access. They have stunning sea views and this route involves some light scrambling.


The route starts and finishes in Ballachulish: jog through the picturesque village and onto the track running south. From here turn west and steeply uphill, this is where the running ends and the power hiking begins! The route takes you along Schoolhouse Ridge which involves some light scrambling. Depending on your experience this might seem terrifying or exciting, but it is a wonderful way to access Munros. Scrambling routes help you appreciate the remote and wild landscape that you're in.


Ballachulish views, partially obstructed by happy runners. May 2021 - very different conditions!

Once you're back on a proper path follow the ridge and its undulations towards the Munros. There are two to tick off here: Sgòrr Dhearg and Sgòrr Dhònuill. The real highlight of this loop is the views you get in this section: both summits and the traverse between offer dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and ocean. It's a route worth saving for a day with good visibility!


Detailed route info can be found here.



Glenfinnan


Glenfinnan is a popular destination not only because of its Munros, but because the Glenfinnan viaduct was made famous by the Hogwarts Express. The beginning of this route takes you under the viaduct, and if you time your run right you'll see the steam train crossing above you!


From here there is a longish run along a track to the start of the loop, which could also be done on bikes. It isn't the most exciting path, but keep your eyes open as with eagles and stags around there's lots of wildlife to see.


Spot the stag! December, 2020.

The first climb of the run isn't on the clearest of paths, but if you follow the ridge up you'll be fine. Be sure to stop for a breather and look behind you, as the views down the ridge towards Loch Shiel are fantastic. The views from both Munros (Sgùrr Thuilm and Sgùrr nan Coireachan) are equally good - look to the north for views of Knoydart and Loch Arkaig.


The traverse between the two Munros is another highlight of this route. A narrow trod takes you over undulating ground, but keeps you high enough to enjoy the views. The terrain is grassy and rocky and very runnable, with the final ascent to Sgùrr nan Coireachan involving navigating between some large boulders.



From Sgùrr nan Coireachan continue along the grassy ridge towards the main track. This is a fun and fast descent with stop steep sections and lovely zigzags towards the end. Once on the track make your way back to the viaduct on foot or bike.


Descending, December 2020.

Detailed route info can be found here.


Torridon


Known for its beautiful coast line, rugged hills and remote nature Torridon is a popular destination for runners, climbers and mountain bikers. In the summer the car parks are often busy, but with a vast landscape to enjoy it is always quiet once out in the hills. Alternatively, visit at another time of year and enjoy autumn colours, frosty ground or the joy of spring rain!


There are three Munro ranges in Torridon making up six Munros in total: Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe. All are fantastic days out and it is worth completing all six over a long weekend. If, however, you're lacking time or experience Beinn Eighe is a great place to start. This range is the most accessible as it involves less 'hand on rock' than Liathach or Beinn Alligin.


The route is a classic day out starting and finishing in Glen Torridon. It involves a steep climb up to the ridge, but on a clear, well used path. Once on the ridge swing right to bag Spidean Coire nan Clach, before doubling back. The ridge is rocky and some light scrambling may be required. The terrain is exciting and playful; nothing beats the joy of running along a ridge with good views and steep descents in all directions!



Drop down to the bealach and then ascend up to Ruadh-stac Mhòr. Take in the views from the plateau before beginning the long descent to the road. Once back at the bealach it is a tricky, scree descent down to the glen. Enjoy picking your way through rocks and the views of the cliffs towering above you, before picking up a fast and runnable path that speeds you back towards the start point.


Detailed route info can be found here.



Grey Corries

The Grey Corries are a series of Munros east of Ben Nevis known for their rocky terrain. For a longer day out they can be linked up with the Munros to the west to form the Lochaber Traverse. This is part of both the Tranter and Ramsay rounds, so well worth a recce if considering either of those.


Supporting a Tranter, June 2021.

These Munros are a personal favourite because of the unusual terrain on top. Lots of rock and scree make for technical running that is difficult to find elsewhere in Scotland. The route can be long and challenging and is best left for when you have some Munro experience under your belt: the difficult ground makes for slow progress, the climbs are steep, and the mountains are remote. The effort is more than worth it though as the ridge also offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.


Detailed route info can be found here.



Glencoe


Glencoe is one the best known mountain ranges in the area with an abundance of Munros and route variations. High on many people's tick list is the Aonach Eagach, the narrowest ridge on the mainland. It offers technical scrambling, panoramic views, and two Munros (Sgòrr nam Fiannaidh and Meall Dearg). It is also part of the Glencoe Skyline route and well worth a recce if you are considering running the race. Commonly regarded as one of the best mountain routes in the UK, pictures are the only way to do it justice:



Aonach Eagach involves sections of difficult scrambling, and it is essential that you have the skills and experience to complete the route. It is also very important to consider the weather conditions and expected completion time. The nature of this route means that it is different to a straightforward run, but Girls on Hills offer a variety of courses to prepare you. Alternatively, we can offer a bespoke adventure designed around the ridge and accompanying Munros.


All photos are from a double traverse, December 2020.





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