Munro Bagging in Scotland – 8 that should not be missed!
Jagged peaks against acres of sky; deep, dark lochs and lochans flanked by lush, green forest; shady, mysterious glens; cascading waterfalls; pure white sand beaches that stretch for miles…If it were a hand of poker, Scotland has all the aces.
Visitors from all over the world are drawn to Scotland for this very reason – to see what it looks like when Mother Nature delivers a home run. And home runs come no more apparent than when the skyline is dominated by heaven grazing mountains, craggy and dramatic…and just longing to be conquered. With 282 munros (a mountain in Scotland over 3000ft), some in Scotlands most famous mountain ranges whilst others are less well known, climbing these peaks is a great way for experienced walkers as well as enthusiasts to explore some of Scotland’s finest scenery and further-flung locations. So popular is this past time that it has coined its own name, Munro-bagging, with its disciples (and at the last count there were 6000) called ‘compleatists’, or ‘Munroists’ – those who have climbed every, single one of them. Committing to climbing all of them gives the opportunity to see the incredible breadth of Scotland’s world-class and dramatic landscape.
All Scotland’s Munros are different – differing views from the summit; the shape of the mountain; its location; the difficulty of the climb and whether by hiking it you are in the heart of midge land! So here are some of the most popular…
Bla Bheinn (Blaven) – Isle of Skye
Standing apart from the rest of the Cuillin Ridge on Skye, Bla Bheinn towers magnificently above Loch Slapin. Blaven, its two main summits separated by a narrow ridge giving it a distinctive shape, has to be one of the most beautiful mountains in Scotland. The northern summit is the Munro, with the southern summit given Munro Top status. The views from both summits are spectacular in all directions, and if you are lucky enough to get a clear day, get ready for a full-on panorama of the Cuillin Ridge. The ascent is relatively straightforward with a trickier section on the ridge between the two summits, however the surfaces are rocky and in parts the climb needs hands on the rocks, so be prepared for that. But the 360 degree views at the summit make it a hike to remember!
Stay close by: Set atop the hillside with fabulous sea views across the Sound of Sleat, Cnoc An Theine is a purpose built holiday home that is ideal for families and small groups, and a fantastic base to explore the area, and just a 40 min drive from Bla Bheinn. Bright, spacious and furnished to a high standard, the best bit is the decked area at the front of the cottage offering spectacular views across to Morar, the Ardnamurchan peninsula and the Small Isles of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna. What a delight! Sleeps 6 | From £395/week | Pet friendly
Ben Avon – Cairngorms National Park
Ben Avon is a very large and complex mountain sprawling over more than 30 square kilometers. With huge plateaux, cliffs and weird volcanic tors, you will be wandering all over the place to investigate! Nature is at its most diverse here, as the mountain and foothills host a variety of native species of flora and fauna. From the south, the route to this Munro is through a Scots Pine forest full of wildlife from grouse and deer to snakes and ant colonies. Higher up ptarmigan and mountain-hare roam the faces of the mountain, and make for an exciting spot. On the way you’ll enjoy great views over Glen Quoich, Glas Allt Mor and Slochd Mor. At the summit you will find the huge Leabaidh an Daimh Tor. Some scrambling is required to get to the true summit where there are excellent views of Beinn a’Bhuird mountain.
Stay close by: Sleeping 11 and located with Aviemore and Coylumbridge on the doorstep, Lynwilg House is a big, bright house that allows you to enjoy the best of the Cairngorms. The front looks right across to Cairngorm and the ski lifts, whilst behind the house is the start of the very popular Burma way that allows you to walk or cycle for miles. With every bedroom bar the single room having an en-suite or its own bathroom, a large group can house very comfortably here. With the feel of a wonderful quality family house, Lynwilg House is the perfect oasis for a family or group of friends after a day in the country. Sleeps 11 | From £1650/week | Pet friendly |
An Teallach – Ullapool
An Teallach, meaning ‘the Forge’ lies to the southwest of Dundonnell and overlooks Little Loch Broom in an area often nicknamed the “great wilderness”. There is no actual peak called An Teallach, this name refers to the whole group of hills, with the dramatic and imposing sandstone mountain boasting 10 peaks, two of which are Munro summits. Whilst the full traverse is a magnificent scramble, the two Munros can be reached by an easier there-and-back route. To bag the two Munros takes around 5 hours with a start at Dundonnell. This misses the difficult circuit of the ridge above Loch Toll an Lochain, often referred to as the ‘Classic Traverse’, which requires a good head for heights, scrambling skills and care. Luckily there is a by-pass path on the south side of the ridge for an easier climb. A challenging route and not for the faint hearted!
Stay close by: Located just an 11 minute drive from the An Teallach car park, Mungasdale House is ideally situated if you and a group of friends want to take on the peak. This large holiday home offers comfortable and spacious accommodation for 10 people in a wonderful setting, with views out over the gorgeous sandy beaches of Gruinard Bay. The warm and inviting oil Aga cooker in the newly fitted kitchen and the open fire in the family sized sitting room makes for a cosy retreat after a day in the great outdoors. Sleeps 10 | From £680/week | Pet friendly
Ben More – Isle of Mull
Located on the Isle of Mull, Ben More is the only island Munro outside Skye. A grand, rocky mountain, it has a fantastic viewpoint for scores of islands dotted around the Minches (the strait in north-west Scotland that separates the north-west Highlands and the northern Inner Hebrides from Lewis and Harris ). Ben More is the highest point on the Isle of Mull, at 3169 ft above sea level. A 3 hour climb will get you to the the top where you will be greeted with the most fantastic views of Ireland, the Outer Hebrides and Ben Nevis, if the weather is good and the top is not shrouded in cloud! Be aware that this volcanic mountain is magnetic and so compasses are unreliable and make an accurate reading impossible.
Stay close by: Killunaig Church House is set in the most fabulous position overlooking the shores of Loch Scridain with Ben More as a backdrop. A transformed former Free Church of Scotland, this welcoming and comfortable self-catering holiday house sleeps up to 10 people. The downstairs open plan living area make for a wonderfully sociable self-catering house, where friends and family can come together and enjoy relaxed evenings after fun-filled days out. The original floor to ceiling arched windows and large glass doorways flood the house with light and offer spectacular views across the dramatic and ever-changing landscape of mountains and sea. 14 minute drive from Ben More, this is not to be missed by those wishing to bag the munro! Sleeps 10 | From £780/week | Pet friendly |
Ben Wyvis – Easter Ross
Standing alone and indomitable to the north of Inverness, Ben Wyvis is a vast and sprawling mountain whose isolated position makes it the dominating feature of a wide area of the Highlands. The climb to its spacious plateau is a reasonably straightforward ascent in good summer conditions and the extensive vistas views from the summit make it not-to-miss mountain. Ben Wyvis’ brooding slopes and high ridge are magnets for hill walkers, and the magnificent views to Cairngorm and the Fannichs surrounding are amazing, as is the forested lower slopes where aspen, birch and rowan grow beside a tumbling burn. Twitchers will be delighted to spot the dotterel, a rare migratory bird which nests in the fragile carpet moss of the summit ridge. Wyvis is a good half day out, a lovely straightforward grassy Munro with amazing views to Scoltand’s most northern mountains.
Stay close by: Within a 40 minute drive of Ben Wyvis, Dalmore House is a magnificent imposing Victorian mansion house enjoying views over the Moray Firth. With open fires in many of the public rooms and oil central heating, the house is warm and comfortable. A listed property, Dalmore retains its original features such as turrets and parapets giving it an otherworldly feel. Delightfully restored in a manner in keeping with its age and history, the antique four poster beds alone will make a break here will be memorable to say the least! Sleeps 10 | From £1200/week | Pet friendly
Creag Meagaidh – Glen Spean
Creag Meagaidh feels like the Highlands compressed into one nature reserve. A magnificent massif, its bare plateau is fringed by some of the grandest cliffs in Scotland. Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve (NNR) is the complete mountain experience with wild mountain plateau and woodland that’s slowly returning to life, creating dramatic scenery. Whether you want serious hill walking, ice-climbing, low-level walks, bird watching or botany, there’s something here for everyone. Creag Meagaidh rises from the shores of Loch Laggan, 250m above sea level, to the summit itself, standing at an impressive 1130m. And the elusive black grouse, bigger and rarer than its red counterpart, flourish in the combination of woodland and open moorland. Take a stroll by the river, watch for goldfinches and deer, or explore the lochan at Coire Ardair for spectacular views of Creag Meagaidh’s magnificent cliffs.
Stay close by: Camisky Lodge, set in a stunning location on the banks of the River Lochy, sleeps 14 people and is a breathtaking self-catering holiday retreat. 40 minutes from Creag Meagaidh this sensational house is perfect for all seasons and ideal for those who love the great outdoors. The rooms have all been beautifully decorated and elegantly furnished with the large bay windows not only give fabulous views but allow natural light to flow through and fill the house. There are multiple rooms to unwind in, enough to find some peace from the crowd if needs be!
Ben Hope – North Highlands
Rising 927 metres (3,040ft) high over one of Europe’s largest expanses of bog the Flow Country in Sutherland, Ben Hope is a fine isolated peak and is a magnificent viewpoint. The most northerly of Scotland’s Munros, Ben Hope gives a grand introduction to the vast wilderness of the extreme North. The views of Ben Hope can be seen from miles away, with the peak dominating the skyline. The drive across isolated country to the base of the mountain is enjoyable in itself. And with views across the far north of Scotland and beyond to Orkney, the panorama is one of the best from any mountain. The ascent is short but steep, with the route marshy and hard-going, especially after rain, but the trudge is worth it as you gain height and begin to see the vast expanse of wilderness spread across Sutherland.
Stay close by: Set above Balnakeil Bay near Durness, Balnakeil House is an A Listed nine bedroom Highland lodge which sleeps up to 17. Now fully restored, it has been well refurbished to provide a unique and luxurious experience, and within an hours drive of Ben Hope it is the ideal base to attempt the climb! With all the rooms having spectacular sea or mountain views and a mile and a half of sandy beach on yr doorstep, the setting is truly magical. And the 4.5 meter kitchen table means meals are sociable times! And to add to the delight, the adorable Beach Bothy next door sleeps two additional people should it be required (at extra cost), so get a get a group together and start the adventure! Sleeps 17 | From £3,200/week | Pet friendly |
Ben Nevis – Fort William
At its summit, the Ben reaches heights of 1344 m (4409 ft), making it the highest mountain in Scotland. As far as reaching the heavens this is as close as you get in Scotland. Part of the Grampian Mountain range, with his snow topped summit and cragged faces, Ben Nevis is the king of them all. The mountain is all that’s left of an ancient volcano. Its peak is the collapsed dome of the volcano that imploded millions of years ago. There has been some debate about the meaning of the name, with there being two translations from the ancient Gaelic language. One meaning is ‘mountain with its head in the clouds’, the other ‘venomous mountain’. Perhaps once you’ve given it a climb you will be able to make up your own mind as to which is more appropriate! Finding group accommodation can be tricky, so one option is to get two properties close to each other if you can’t find one that is big enough.
Stay close by: Two such properties are Druimarbin Farmhouse (sleeps 7) and Corauanan Farmhouse (sleeps 6). Both houses are set in totally private and tranquil locations a mile apart from each other. Although remote, you are only three miles from Fort William, making these two self catering holiday cottages perfect for exploring the heart of Scotland and all it has to offer. Druimarbin Farmhouse, with its mix of antique and country style modern furnishings, creates a lovely relaxed atmosphere. The focal point of the house is the large, charming drawing room with its big deep sofas, open log fire and stunning views across the loch to the hills beyond. Corauanan Farmhouse, offering magnificent views directly onto Ben Nevis itself, has been renovated to the highest standard and decorated with furnishings chosen to blend in well with its traditional surroundings. You will always look forward to returning home to either of these properties after a day exploring this beautiful and dramatic part of Scotland.
So the next time you are planning a break, ask yourself if you and your friends or family fancy joining the 6,000 Munro Baggers who enjoy Munro Bagging in Scotland. If the answer is yes, then get a group together and plan a weekend to remember. With one step at a time you could be well on your way to seeing Scotland in all its heaven-grazing glory, with the landscape racing over forest and loch to the horizon below you, is there anything better?