Munro record-breaker Hazel Strachan bags 9th round
I wrote a Sunday Mail outdoors column about the extraordinary Munro bagger Hazel Strahan. This appeared in the paper on October 15, 2017. I expect she is halfway through her next round by now! See the pdf.
Hazel compleats 9th Munro round
Extraordinary Munro bagger Hazel Strachan has completed her ninth round of the Scottish mountains.
On September 30, she summitted Ben Challum, near Tyndrum, surrounded by friends and colleagues.
Having hiked through a morning of very mixed weather to reach the top of 3362ft peak near Tyndrum, Highlands, she said: “It feels fantastic.”
The Munros are the 282 mountains in Scotland with a summit of at least 3000ft.
The first list was published by Sir Hugh Munro, the founder of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, in 1891.
Since then, the original list of almost 300 has been revised following more modern measuring techniques.
Sir Hugh never completed a round but since then more than 6000 people have recorded at least one round with the SMC.
Scottish mountain guide Steve Fallon holds the overall record for walking Munro rounds and has completed an stunning 15 Munro rounds.
Hazel, of Bathgate, West Lothian, is the first woman to walk nine Munro rounds.
The Scottish Government agricultural scientist completed her first round of Munros in 2005.
Her second round was finished in 2008, then further rounds followed in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, on compleating her seventh Munro round, Hazel walked into the record books to become the first female to finish seven rounds.
She broke a 20-year six-rounds record held by the late Geraldine Guestsmith.
Hazel continued with another round, finished in August 2016, and then the latest ninth round was completed 13 months later.
She walks most of her Munros on her own and during her ninth round she was accompanied on just four Munros.
She also owes a lot to her retired husband Ian who provides support along the way in their motorhome.
Ian reveals he is happy to do the driving, enjoy a relaxing day while his wife hikes and then have a cup of tea ready for when she returns.
During this latest round, Hazel also completed a charity challenge to walk 100 Munros in one month in aid of Scottish Mountain Rescue.
In doing so, she “banked” 125 Munros for her 10th round.
Hazel said: “I decided this time to include another challenge as part of my ninth round.
“I walked 100 Munros in June and I raised almost £2500 for the outstanding and vital rescue service.”
However, because of bad weather conditions Hazel was forced to walk some Munros twice.
She said: “I had planned to walk the 100 mountains as part of my ninth round but in the end my plans were dictated by where the weather was better.
“As a result I have 125 Munros that I walked twice and which will now count towards my 10th round.”
Until now, Hazel has been something of a purist with her Munro rounds.
She has usually started from Munro one at the start of each year of bagging and walked the full 282 Munros to complete a round.
She said: “I think I have now proven that it’s possible to do multiple rounds and start from zero each time.
“Now, for my 10th round, I have decided I will start with the 125 already walked during my ninth round.”
In total, this means Hazel, who works full-time, walked an incredible 407 Munros between August 2016 and September 2017.
She said: “The summer in Scotland this year has been very wet and I do prefer to do Munros where I will stay dry and get a view.
“In fact, it was the winter that proved to offer the best Munro walking weather.”
As tradition has it, Hazel toasted her ninth Munro round with a glass of Champagne.
She said: “I have enjoyed many memorable walks during this round.
“In particular, a hike of the Fisherfield Munros in winter was incredible and it is something will never forget.
“I have also had many great times bivvying in remote places at 3,000ft during multi-day Munro outings.
“It feels fantastic to have finished and I am now looking forward to doing my 10th round.”
You can keep track of Hazel’s progress on Twitter @StrachanHazel. Also read about my outing with Hazel on hr final Munro.