The things I learned on a friend’s last Munro
It has been a while since I joined my friend Rebecca on her last Munro, Beinn Narnain in the Arrochar Alps, but I have had it on my mind to write about the outing.
Being less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow, the Alps are a popular place for walkers. I can’t recall how many times I have walked to the summits of Narnain, it’s neighbour Ime and the Corbett, The Cobbler (Ben Arthur).
The week before Rebecca’s last Munro I had been tied to my desk with work and I was desperate to get out to make the most of the good weather. So, I decided to do a double summit day.
Two hours before we were due to meet at the car park in Arrochar for the last Munro walk I set out to run-hike The Cobbler.
It was a little further than I recalled but I made it up and back down again in time to set off (predictably delayed!) for Rebecca’s last Munro.
What I learned on a last Munro hike
It is possible to leave one of the most accessible Munros as your last Munro of 282. Like me, Rebecca lives close by but somehow she had saved Narnain as her last. Many Munro walkers hike Narnain at the same time as Ime.
I asked her how this could be. She said: “I am not really sure why I didn’t climb this Munro in the early days. Then when I knew I would finish all the Munros I decided that Narnain would be ideal as a last Munro.
“It’s close to Glasgow and to pubs and hotels in Arrochar, which is what you want when organising a last Munro with friends.”
There are always friends and family. A last Munro is traditionally an easier hike (“easier” being relative since few Munros are easy) and this allows for friends and family to make the walk.
Rebecca’s last Munro included several people, including an 11-year-old girl, who had never reached the summit of a Munro before and Al’s dad who took his time to reach the top and then announced it would be his last Munro! “Although I am pleased I am here at the top,” he added.
I knew many people in the group after years of friendship with Rebecca, a newspaper former colleague (marketing). There were other former colleagues (journalism) and those I have known a long time through other Munro hikes.
There is always a lot of great chat. Walking at a relaxed pace offered plenty of time for chatting with friends, old and new.
There is always Champagne. The summit of a last Munro would not be the same without plenty of Champagne. I was grateful for a lighter rucksack on the return walk after carrying a bottle of Champagne to the top.
There should always be a cake. Rebecca’s partner Al made a splendid cake depicting a trig marker on the top of a mountain.
There should always be sunshine. After an amazingly sunny and warm start to the summer this year, I was surprised when the great spell carried on through Rebecca’s last Munro outing. In fact, it was the perfect weather with sunshine and a cooling breeze through the glen. (And brilliantly the summer has kept on giving!)
It doesn’t matter how many times I walk in the Arrochar Alps, the day is always special. I love the views, the type of trails and the number of people I see out and about enjoying Scotland’s mountains. It might be a busy place but it is always uplifting being there.
The Munroist should always be the last to reach the top. As Rebecca brought up the rear of the line of walkers, the rest of us formed a tunnel with walking poles. Rebecca passed through the tunnel with a huge smile and then went on to touch the trig to mark the top of her 282nd unique Munro.
A Munro is a great high. Both literally and figuratively. Rebecca is known for being up-beat and can-do and on her final Munro she was glowing with a mix of joy, pride and relief.
Just a year or so ago I remember she had around 30 Munros to go to reach her Munroist status. I imagine she felt a bit of pressure to get these Munros walked and so she did with the help and company of friends.
I can only imagine how it feels to compleat (ed: correct spelling!) a round of Munros but I could see that Rebecca was on a fantastic high that day.
There is always the question of: What next? Rebecca deflected this question with all kinds of jokey answers. I expect she has something up her sleeve but she wanted to finish her first round before she was 40 and so celebrating her 40th birthday will be next on her list of achievements.
I am not sure I want to finish my Munros. I have 45 to go and I am in no rush. I enjoy having a goal and I like the idea of walking new Munros in new places whenever I have a spare weekend.
Yet, I rarely have spare weekends and I am quite happy to walk some Munros repeatedly with other people or to join friends on other hikes to do Corbetts etc. Maybe I will finish them before I am 60!
Two Arrochar summits from car park to car park in one day makes your feet sore. One big toe nail is now falling off because of that day! But it was a great way to fit in some mountain running training (last minute training for running in the Alps) and to also catch up with friends during a last Munro hike.
Congratulations to RebeccaJ Ricketts for becoming Munro round compleater 6342, as recorded with the Scottish Mountaineering Club.