The Munro Files

The Munros probably don’t need any introduction, but just in case… The Munros are a list of mountains in Scotland that are 3,000ft or over, catalogued by Sir Hugh Munro and published in 1891. There are currently 282 Munros and the pursuit of ‘compleating’ the Munros has become very popular over the last few decades and around 250 people compleat each year.

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Ben Nevis as seen from Carn Mor Dearg

But what exactly does it take to complete the Munros? How many miles will you walk and how long will it take? If you’re just starting out on your Munro-bagging adventure be sure to check out my ‘Munro Bagging for beginners’ article. Otherwise read on for some Munros stats…

How long does it take to complete the Munros?

On average it takes 23 years to bag all the Munros, this works out at just over 12 Munros per year.

What is the average age to complete on?

The average age to compleat on is 54.

How many days walking will it take to complete the Munros?

If you followed all the standard route descriptions from the Walkhighlands website it would take 148 separate walking trips to bag all the Munros. This doesn’t include any over night stays in bothies or wild camping trips. For example you may choose to do the Fisherfield Munros with a night or two in Shenavall bothy.

Of course there are other factors to consider:

  • You may do bigger multi bagging trips reducing days needed
  • You may have to abort a trip due to bad weather and will have to return another day to get a Munro you missed.

I asked 20 Munroists how many hill days they needed and it averaged out at 145 days, which is 3 days off my calculation from my data gathering from the Walkhighlands website.

What is the total ascent and distance for a round of Munros?

This is incredibly difficult data to gather. I wish I’d taken note during my round.  So to work this out I’ve based my stats on all the standard routes from Walkhighlands. A round of Munros would involve 167,905 metres of ascent or for those who prefer old money, that’s 550,869 feet. This is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest from sea level 19 times!

You will also walk around 2,720 kilometres (or 1,690 miles). That’s the equivalent of walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again.

How many people have completed?

At the time of writing this article (27 June 2017) 6,154 people have registered their compleation with the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC). However it’s unknown how many people have chose not to add their name to the list. To see the latest count visit the SMC website.

chart (2)

Since the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 where numbers dropped below 200, the amount of new Munroists has steadily climbed and remained above 200 per year.  2007 holds the record with 257 completions registered.

Records 

Believe it or not many Munrobaggers are not happy with just one round and will begin a second, third, fourth.. well you get the picture!

  • Steven Fallon currently holds the record of 15 rounds of Munros.
  • Hazel Strachan currently holds the female record with 8 rounds.
  • Stephen Pyke holds the fastest time for a continuous round of Munros. Bagging all of them in 39 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes.

Multi round baggers have two techniques to bag; you’re either a ‘Banker’ or a ‘Golfer’.

Bankers will bag Munros they need for a future round to save time and effort. Whereas a Golfer will only do one round at a time and reset the clock at the end and begin a fresh round.

What is the split between men and woman compleatists?

In 1999 the Munro Society began collating stats of the male/female split. Out of 3,834 compleatists, only 751 of those were female. This would suggest that hill walking is a male dominated hobby, or perhaps the ladies are less inclined to register their completion.

chart

Life after the Munros

So how do the other hill categories compare against the Munros? Analysing the compleation list of the 6,154 Munroists, I have collated the stats below for each hill category:

Munros 6154 %
Munro Tops 613 9.96
Furths 614 9.98
Corbetts 570 9.26
Grahams 160 2.60
Donalds 184 2.99
Full House (all of above) 43 0.70

Many Munroists may still be actively bagging other hill lists or haven’t bothered to register these with the SMC. Or perhaps they’ve hung up their boots?

Looking at a snapshot of total ascents recorded on Walkhighlands for each hill category paints a similar picture with the other categories dropping significantly.

Munros 877,689
Corbetts 101,810
Grahams 37,254
Donalds 28,389

Top Ten Highest Munros

9 of the 10 highest Munros are over 4,000ft, with Ben Lawers being a mere 17′ off the magic 4,000′ marker. Apparently locals built a huge cairn on the summit to get Ben Lawers up to 4,000ft. Of course this is cheating and the cairn has long since been removed.

4 of the 10 highest are in the Nevis Range and the other 5 are in the Cairngorms. Leaving Ben Lawers in 10th place.

1 Ben Nevis 1,345m 4,412.7ft
2 Ben Macdui 1,309m 4,294.6ft
3 Braeriach 1,296m 4,252.0ft
4 Cairn Toul 1,291m 4,235.6ft
5 Sgor an Lochain Uaine 1,258m 4,127.3ft
6 Cairn Gorm 1,245m 4,084.6ft
7 Aonach Beag 1,234m 4,048.6ft
8 Aonach Mor 1,221 4,005.9ft
9 Carn Mor Dearg 1,220 4,002.6ft
10 Ben Lawers 1,214 3,982.9ft

Ben Nevis is the highest Munro and the highest mountain in the British Isles. Beinn Teallach is the smallest Munro only just making it by a bawhair (few centimetres)!

chart

 

Top Ten most popular Munros

Cue the chart countdown music…

# Munro Ascents recorded
10 Beinn Ime 6822
9 Ben Chonzie 7128
8 Cairn Gorm 7139
7 Beinn Narnain 7380
6 Ben Vorloch (Loch Earn) 8115
5 Beinn Ghlas 8640
4 Schiehallion 8816
3 Ben Lawers 8929
2 Ben Nevis 10640
1 Ben Lomond 11600

The ten most popular have a common theme; they are all easier and have paths, which make them ideal for beginners.

Ben More (Mull) and Beinn na Lap remain two of the most popular Munros to compleat on. With Ben More being an isolated, singular Munro on the Isle of Mull it makes it an obvious choice to leave until last. Whereas Beinn na Lap makes for a short ascent as you start at over 400 metres above sea level, making it a nice short day out for family and friends who want to attend a ‘compleation’.

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The 3 Munros on the 5 Sisters of Kintail. 

The easiest and most difficult Munros

This is down to each individual because a Munro may be deemed easy because it has gentle gradients and a path all the way to the summit, for example like Ben Lomond. You could also argue The Cairnwell becuase you start the walk at 600m and can reach the summit in less than 30 minutes.

Again many Munrobaggers would say the InPinn is the most difficult Munro as it requires climbing with a rope and an abseil. Others may argue a remote Munro in the Fisherfield or Atholl Forest was the most difficult due to the distance and terrain.

Conclusion 

So there you have it, some useless but interesting stats on the Munros. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your round even more now… If you’ve noticed I sometimes spelt completion wrong. It was intentional:-  Compleat is an archaic spelling of complete.

Cheers

Robin

 

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13 thoughts on “The Munro Files

  1. Squiz

    A lot of up-to-date facts gathered together in one useful short article….and you seem to have discovered a new hill “Ben Vorloch”.

  2. Some interesting stuff there. I think the male vs female split is in part down to child care type stuff but not entirely. Maybe walking seems a blokey activity but the walking club I’m in has more women than guys.

    I think you do get people that don’t log their round too – the number of people who have logged their Wainwright rounds with the Wainwright society is ludicrously small – though it was never intended to be a list in the way the Munros were as it is so subjective.

  3. Glad you’ve just put a post out – what’s happened to Scottish Hills? I cannae get on! It wants me to log in just to access the site at all, which seems suspicious, and then it won’t let me log in anyway – I’m hoping it hasn’t been hijacked and someone stole my password when I tried!

    Apart from that – great post. Some huge surprises in the top ten – I’m not mad on most of those except Ben Lawers – and I have a soft spot for Ben Ime.

    I’m also really surprised at the length of the average time for people’s first Munro Compleation (no idea why anyone would do more than one round of ’em!)

  4. Mark

    Well at least I managed to compleat my Munros in less than the average time, 21 years in my case. Living in England was a bit of an issue but I think that helped me optimise my time. Many Munros were done on multi day camping and bothying trips, summer and winter.

    The Munro Tops don’t seem very popular although two members of Scottish Hills have recently finished them to join the 1 in 10 club.

  5. Just had a tot up – done well in the how many years category with just 10 years – didn’t do so well in the how many hill days though – 168.

    While I was looking through my Munro Log book, I noticed I’d written nearly all my mileages and feet of ascent so if you ever need to know… Mine might not be so average though as I tended to bag tops and extra peaks while walking and almost always did a round where possible rather than an out and back – a bit like Irvine Butterfield’s book.

    1. 10 years isn’t bad at all. Weird though as I had picked up the average was 8 years. 😕

      Add up your feet and mileage and see how far off it is from my calculations. 🤔

  6. Munrotops

    119 days on the hills to compleat Munro’s including over 130 tops and many demoted tops. From 31/5/2009 to 31/8/2013. Three evenings were also spent walking (cycling) to three bothies to allow three one day raids in Knoydart, Fisherfields and Ben Alder group

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