At the start of the year I challenged myself to ‘Bag a Munro’ which is essentially to climb a hill in Scotland over 3,000 feet. I included this in my list of challenges largely as an incentive to get out and discover more of Scotland. Well I have certainly been doing that! This challenge has actually played out quite nicely for me because I am also training for my 500 mile walk in August so I need to be spending as much time on my feet as possible right now to prepare.
It turns out bagging a Munro is yes challenging but actually easier than I thought, like so many other things you just have to stop making excuses and get yourself out the door to do it.
I have to admit I didn’t do much of the planning. Liam did most of the leg work, he has found some great routes for us to do on Walk Highlands. Then he’s sourced where to camp and literally packed the bags, I pretty much just give unhelpful opinions (as is my prerogative as a girlfriend) and turn up.
Our first Munro was Schiehallion in North Perthshire, approximately 2 hours north of Glasgow. We chose this based on the fact that I've read it listed as one of the easiest munros to climb in countless blogs and seeing as this felt like a really big task going for an 'easy' one first seemed sensible.
It's an out and back route covering just over 6 miles , climbing 731m. Its a well marked stone path most of the way up so you don't really need to worry about mud to much. The last quarter involves navigating a boulder field which I found quite fun but might be difficult to navigate if you are on walking poles.
There is a car park with a £2 charge for the whole day. It's pretty far from the nearest shop but luckily we had change. There are also toilets in the car park.
It was a reasonably nice day and Schiehallion being an easy munro is a popular one, the car park was almost full but despite this it didn't feel like the route was crowded. We passed people and others passed us but most of the time we felt alone. I like having a nosey at other walkers anyway, picking up tips for kit and what to do or what not to do.
The first mile was reasonably flat and a good way to get warmed up, it takes me a while to get my heart rate settled when it comes to exercise and I always over dress when I first start walking and then soon end up taking off the layers so it was good to start off slowly. Then we where into the climb, it's a zig zagging path at first which makes the climb bearable followed by steps which is always the killer for me, heavy breathing and stiff limbs soon kicked in but the nice thing about the hill walking was having the excuse to stop and take in the view.
I'd say after the next mile to mile and a half we reached a false peak which is where the path more or less ends. You can end your walk here and still get the same great views from the top so if you aren't up to the boulder field then don't worry you aren't missing out but this was the bit I was most excited for. The walk went from getting it done to something quite fun and technical an area I enjoy so much more. I didn't really notice the final climb here or the time it was just about getting across in one piece. Now this isn't as dangerous as that sounds, I'm just very clumsy so the fact I didn't fall is a minor miracle.
Reaching the top was an odd feeling, if I am honest I was slightly underwhelmed by the view and actually with the final climb being so steady I felt like I had been putting off something for so long that was really actually very doable. I think I was more disappointed in myself than the place. But hey I did it and I can only make sure I don't put off doing things again.
After a wee picnic , another reason I am enjoying this hill walking, we went back the way we came. Jumping from rock to rock we tried to make good time getting down but it was particularly hard to get any speed up, hats off to the fell runners who passed us!
Since then …
Well I now have the hiking bug and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you’ll probably be sick of me posting about it. After conquering Schiehallion the following week we decided to be even more adventurous and went up to Glen Coe to take on not one Munro but two in a day. We (Liam) did a bit of planning, we jumped in the car on the Friday night after work and arrived just in time to pitch a tent before nightfall. Waking up to the views of the hills was amazing and travelling ten minutes to the walk was even better. We took on Buachaille Etive Beag which is ridge that contais two munros which neither I can say or write but basically its a steep climb up the middle of two munros. Then you can do both, coming down in between the two just enough that it counts. A good way to rack up the munro numbers in a short space of time.
I am so happy to have ticked off one of my challenges for the year. I am doing well on working towards the others but just to have one in the bag and feel like it has spurred me on to doing more of something I enjoy is fantastc and exactly the point of setting these goals in the first place.