Munro definition: a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 feet (914.4 m) and there are 282 all there for the taking. A person who completes/conquers a munro is known to have ‘bagged’ it and there are people who have completed bagging the full set (and some more than once!). My first Munro was nearly ten years ago and I aimed high with Ben Nevis (1,345 metres above sea level) on a beautiful weekday in May. With snow on the top, blue skies with fluffy clouds and a killer view, reaching the top was magical and as perfect as it could be. Fast forward nearly ten years and this week the Dude and I stepped out to make Ben Chonzie in Perthshire my second Munro. Making the most of a good weather day in November we gathered our kit and set out for the hills. This post is an honest account of my experience Munro bagging and why it’s not for me.
Get a move on
At this time of year daylight hours are limited and so we were up early with our bags packed for all eventualities. Our route was to start at the Loch Turret carpark and according to the book “is more scenic and has 150m less ascent,” sounds good to me.
We set off with our rucksacks and I have poles in hand and my camera around my neck. It soon becomes apparent that I wasn’t able to get a lick on (keep a good pace), try and look for wildlife and take photos with my camera and with that thought came a rain shower and it was packed away.
The Dude is very good at looking after me whilst we are out walking but there is no getting away from the fact he is fitter than me and walks quicker than me. This means I spend most of the day walking on my own. I don’t get left behind and we are always in sight of each other but I don’t find it much fun walking on my own.
There is no getting away from the fact I am a tad heftier than I was ten years ago but I would still like to think I am relatively fit. Of course, clambering up a Munro is going to put that theory to the test and it’s a good reminder that I am overweight forty something.
That’s not to say I am lazy, I do walk quite a bit (just not vertically) and I sometimes dust off my bike but I haven’t stepped foot in a gym since moving here (I know that’s bad).
Alone in my own thoughts for a lot of the walk I was aware I sounded like a steam train and glad there was no-one around to hear me.
What a time to discover one pair of your favourite Salomon walking boots are no longer waterproof!
Trying to pick my route, carefully, through an uphill boggy section was totally pointless and it soon became apparent that I may as well have been wearing a pair of colanders on my feet. I joked about getting trench foot with each squelch but I wasn’t impressed.
On the way back down I was less choosy about my foot placement and stomped through the water and in some places ended up to my ankles in bog. As I write this two days after this walk my boots are STILL drying out!
No reward at the top
Even before we had left the car I had said in jest to the Dude “I’m not going up if I can’t see the view from the top” and would you believe it the clouds rolled in as we got closer to the summit. Like something out of a movie the visibility was poor, it was just……. white nothingness.
All that effort to get to the top and we didn’t see a damned thing.
I know. I know, at least I can say I got to the top. That I did it. I stood 931 metres above sea level. I’m sorry but I just can’t sing about it.
What miffs me even more is that for most of the walk we could see the top of the peak in all it’s glory. Typical.
The photographer in me is ALWAYS looking for a photo opportunity but this day out didn’t allow for me to enjoy the scenery let alone capture it on camera.
One the occasion I did look up and across the loch to see the light shifting on the hillside, the moment was gone. No time to change my manual settings on my digital camera, it was too late.
So the only photos I have are from our smartphones, which are perfectly adequate but not the same love and care has been taken to get them right. All the photos used in this blog are from our phones (apart from the Ben Nevis photos with snow) and if I’m honest, that doesn’t sit right with me.
Part of my enjoyment from a walk is being able to take photographs, to stop and admire the little things. For example some of the lichens, moss and fungi I saw on this walk were stunning but I had to keep on walking. I know I should be able to go for a walk without my camera but this is Scotland and it’s so beautiful.
Aches and pains
Lets just say I had a date with a foam roller and a tennis ball for the last two nights.
I’ve seized up in places that I didn’t know could seize up. From my shoulders to my toes something aches but it’s that weird post exercise ache that feels good. Muscles being stretched and worked properly for the first time in ages.
Never say never
We don’t have to climb massive mountains to have a good day out walking, I love a good forest trail, coastal path or hills like Birnam hill in Perthshire, which at 374metres is a nice varied walk with a cracking view. Don’t let this blog post put you off trying the bigger mountains of Scotland it’s just to show that I tried Munro bagging and why it’s not for me. I don’t think any of these things are specific to Ben Chonzie either, it could have been any of the 281 others.