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Munro mystery solved

Written by Fiona November 09 2009

If you has asked me a year ago to define a Munro bagger I might have suggested they were a little mad and most likely obsessive. Bagging a round of theses Scottish mountains over 3000ft was not something I had planned and one of my main objections was that I was sure that not every one of the 283 mountains would be worth the hike.

I’d heard it said by some baggers that if it hadn’t have been for the quest to complete the round they would have happily missed out several dozen of the more boring, boggy or “tourist ridden” ascents.

Indeed, many walkers in Scotland will tell you that there are many other hills and mountains that do not qualify as Munros but which amount to a much more rewarding and satisfying summit. Some of the most notable are among the Corbett mountains, the 221 mountains that make it to the 2500ft mark but not the lofty 3000ft.

So it was with something akin to reluctance that I set off this weekend to follow a Munro bagging friend to the top of two Munros near Crianlarich. Neither of us had heard a good word said about these two mountains and, indeed, many baggers have left the dastardly duo close to the end of their round simply because they know they have to be done, but not with any great walking joy.

The reasons given for these Munros – Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil – being less favoured include too many bogs, a difficult, untrodden route, hard-to-find peaks, a total trudge across unremarkable marshland etc.

I wasn’t prepared to believe that anywhere in Scotland could be this bad – but I was still a bit concerned that outing would be a bit rubbish.

And, in part, these baggers’ tales did turn out to be true. The ground was extremely wet and boggy. The route to the top was particularly hard to find and with swirling fog for much of the day our walk was frequently punctuated with map reading and compass co-ordinating stops. For much of the last few hundred metres of both ascents there was no view (just thick fog) and extremely slippery snow and ice conditions underfoot.

If this wasn’t bad enough the final ascent of the second Munro was the toughest, steepest slog uphill that I have ever encountered. The almost vertical slope was as wet as a waterslide and with the added obstacles of slippery snow and icy rocks it felt as though we would never reach the top.

But finally we did make it. Despite a total white out and an extremely unremarkable top the feeling of achievement was amazing.

And it was then, and during the descent back to the car, that I began to realise that Munro bagging is not only about the ticking off of a collection of 3000ft mountains.

While plodding and trudging onwards all day, my Munro bagging pal and I chatted. We spent hours discussing a wide range of topics. We put all sorts of things to rights. We started and finished great conversations. We laughed out loud. And we giggled when things seemed too ridiculous. We also concentrated hard on the navigation and felt a great sense of satisfaction on reaching various points and, eventually, the summits.

We found great spots to sit and take in the views (when below cloud cover) and we delighted over how great it is that average sandwiches and coffee taste so good when eaten outdoors and with a proper appetite.

At the end of the day we were exhausted but how nice a bottle or two of beer tastes after a tricky and tough day in Scotland’s great outdoors.

So these two Munros weren’t the most beautiful or the easiest but they still offered a fantastic day out doing something that is great for both mental and physical fitness and health. I can now see the many positives of becoming an addicted Munro bagger!

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