Munro mar­vels

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Discover -

BEN LOMOND*

282 peaks in Scot­land pierce the mag­i­cal 3000-foot marker and many walk­ers make it their mis­sion to bag the lot. Called Mun­ros af­ter Sir Hugh of that name, the man who drew up the list in 1891, the first one most trav­ellers en­counter is Ben Lomond. This most southerly of the Mun­ros crowns the east­ern shore of Loch Lomond. There’s a sturdy (and busy) path up from Rowar­den­nan, or you can try the gnarlier line of the Ptarmi­gan Ridge to 3196ft. One Munro down, 281 to go – or you can sam­ple these high­lights picked by our moun­tain ex­perts.

BEN MACDUI*

Long thought to be the sum­mit of Bri­tain, the na­tion’s sec­ond­high­est peak hulks up to 4295 feet at the heart of the Cairn­gorm plateau. “The sense of space is in­cred­i­ble,” says Keith Fer­gus, CW writer and au­thor of mul­ti­ple guide­books, “as are the views that ex­tend across much of the na­tional park and beyond.” You can ap­proach from the ski cen­tre to the north, and dou­ble your Munro count by tak­ing in Cairn Gorm (4085 ft) it­self and its spectacular north­ern cor­ries, or as Keith sug­gests in his book The Dee: 25 Walks from Source to Sea, you can walk in from the south through gor­geous Glen Lui and bag Derry Cairn­gorm (3789 ft) on an al­ter­na­tive 17-mile, two-Munro route.

THE RING OF STEALL*

“This round gives su­perb walk­ing and scram­bling around the sky­line of a deep cor­rie and over no less than four Mun­ros – Sgurr a’ Mhàim, Am Bo­dach, Stob Coire a’ Chàirn, An Gear­anach – all in the shadow of Ben Ne­vis across the glen,” says Ralph Storer, CW writer and au­thor of the multi-vol­ume Ul­ti­mate Guide to the Mun­ros. “The route’s name comes from the An­gli­cised pro­nun­ci­a­tion (Steel) of the Gaelic name for the high wa­ter­fall that drains the cor­rie (more cor­rectly said Shty­owl). The most ex­cit­ing parts are the start, with an airy tightrope walk along the Devil’s Ridge, and the fin­ish on an ex­cit­ing scram­ble up the last Munro. From there a stalker’s path gives an easy de­scent to Glen Ne­vis for a spectacular end-of-day ram­ble past Steall and down the Ne­vis Gorge.”

LOCHNAGAR

“Lochnagar is one of the truly clas­sic British moun­tain walks,” says Keith. “Her renowned, brood­ing cliffs never fail to take the breath away. She is a ma­jes­tic moun­tain, an apt de­scrip­tion as Lochnagar has been closely con­nected with Queen Vic­to­ria since the 19th cen­tury. Out­stand­ing paths line the ma­jor­ity of the route, which be­gins within the lovely sur­rounds of Glen Muick, be­fore climb­ing high onto Lochnagar’s spa­cious plateau, ven­tur­ing, at times, along steep cliffs.”

BEN LUI

“A big proper Scot­tish day,’ is how CW pho­tog­ra­pher Tom Bailey de­scribes this round. “Ben Lui is an iconic peak, and this high horse­shoe up one ridge and down an­other is a good ad­ven­ture, and there’s noth­ing too scary about it in clear sum­mer con­di­tions. The short­est route is from Glen Lochy to the west, but I like the ap­proach from the east, where you can fo­cus on the moun­tain’s el­e­gant arêtes and the rock-bowl of Coire Gaothaich on the long walk down the glen, be­fore the climb to its 3707 foot sum­mit.”

BEINN MHEADHOIN

Just three miles from Ben MacDui lies one of Ralph’s favourites: “This route is both spectacular and un­usual. Spectacular be­cause it as­cends via the hid­den Loch Avon basin, the Cairngorms’ most awe­some spot. I call it Scot­land’s Yosemite. Un­usual be­cause the route goes over the Cairn Gorm plateau and down to the lochside be­fore climb­ing Beinn Mheadhoin (3878 ft). A high start at Coire Cas keeps the to­tal as­cent man­age­able and there’s lots to see on the way: the sandy-shored loch, the Goat Path, the his­toric Shel­ter Stone, Mheadhoin’s sum­mit tors, epic scenery ev­ery­where.”

THE CRUACHAN HORSE­SHOE

“This forms a horse­shoe ridge around a deep-cut cor­rie filled by Cruachan Reser­voir,” says Ralph. “The round of the cor­rie sky­line crosses two Mun­ros – Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh – and is a clas­sic ridge walk with end­less views over Loch Awe (Scot­land’s long­est loch) and the western seas­cape. The ridge is nar­row, ad­ven­tur­ous and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, with one brief scram­ble to get the pulse rac­ing. And there are few bet­ter ways to end a day on the hill than ‘wes­ter­ing home’ as the sun sets over Loch Awe into the At­lantic.”

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