What are the Munros?


Scotland's mountains over 3000ft (914.4m) are known as "Munros" after Sir Hugh Munro who first published a list of these mountains in 1891. The list has since been revised due to more accurate surveying and according to whether a particular summit is considered a separate mountain or merely a "Top", that is, a subsidiary summit of the associated Munro. The most recent revision was done by the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) in 1997, after which the list included 284 Munros with 227 additional Tops. In 2009 after more accurate surveying the lowest mountain on this list, Sgurr nan Ceannaichean, was found to be only 2996ft and was struck off the list, leaving just 283 Munros today. The SMC guidebook divides the Munros into 17 geographical sections, these being the "Areas" used in this website.

Sir Hugh Munro himself never climbed every mountain in his list - the first person to achieve this was the Rev. A.E.Robertson who completed this feat in 1901. Since then many other people have set out to climb every Munro in the list, and the pastime is now known as "Munro-bagging". In recent years it has become a highly popular way of exploring Scotland's remote and beautiful mountain regions. The achievement of climbing all the Munros is made particularly difficult by the fact that one of them, the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye, requires a Moderate rock climb to reach the true summit.

In imitation of the concept of Munros, other classes of mountain have also been given special names: the Corbetts are those Scottish mountains between 2500ft and 3000ft; the Grahams are those between 2000ft and 2500ft; the Donalds are those in southern Scotland over 2000ft. Mountains over 3000ft elsewhere in Britain (4 in England and 15 in Wales) are sometimes referred to as the Furth Munros.

A huge number of books have been written describing the Munros, including straightforward guides, photographic collections and accounts of individuals' quests to climb them all. The guidebook most often referred to in the accounts of walks on this website is the one I rely on the most, the SMC guidebook edited by Donald Bennet. Other famous names of the Munroing world include Hamish Brown, the author of Hamish's Mountain Walk, Cameron McNeish, author of another well-established guidebook, and Martin Moran, author of The Munros in Winter, an astonishing account of how he climbed all the Munros in 90 days during winter.

Anyone new to the idea of Munro-bagging should be warned right away that it seems to be a highly contagious disease. Just a few days spent walking in the company of a Munro-bagger can often result in a person who was hitherto completely indifferent becoming obsessed with the goal of climbing all 283 Munros for themselves. Of course, websites such as this one may also contribute to the spread of this incurable disease...

Malcolm Lyon, June 2007