A very popular pastime for hillwalkers and mountaineers in Scotland is to work their way through “The Munros” – the established list of mountain summits that are over 3000 feet (914.4m) above sea level. Many people set themselves the goal of climbing every Munro on the list but many more simply like to use the list as a guide to help choose hills and mountain ranges to visit.
The list takes its name from Sir Hugh Munro (1856-1919), an early leader of mountaineering in Scotland. Sir Hugh identified what he believed to be all the summits that were 3000 feet or higher and then classified each one as either a separate mountain (“main summit”) or a subsidiary peak (“top”). He considered 283 of the 538 summits to be main summits and it is a version of this shorter list that we refer to today as “The Munros”.
The Munro list has actually been changed several times over the years as corrections and re-assessments have been made. The official list is still maintained by the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) of which Sir Munro was a founder member. The SMC uses the best evidence available to maintain the list – this is generally data provided by the UK Ordnance Survey. Perhaps surprisingly in today’s age of satellite measurement and computerised mapping there are still relatively frequent changes to the list: in 2009, Sgurr nan Ceannaichean, south of Glen Carron, was removed from the list after its height was more accurately measured as 2,996.8 feet (913.43m); more recently, in September 2012 Beinn a’Chlaidheimh was demoted to a Corbett after being surveyed at 914m – just short of the 914.4m requirement. This has brought the total number of Munros down to 282, slightly lower than the number Sir Hugh originally identified.
Sadly Sir Hugh died before he could complete his task of climbing all the main summits, missing only two peaks from his list; Carn an Fhidhleir and Carn Cloich-Mhuillin in the Cairngorms, although the latter of these is no longer listed as a Munro on today’s list. Sir Hugh Munro also never climbed the “Inaccessible Pinnacle” on the Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, although his own list he classified this as a “top” rather than as a “main summit”.
The current list of Munro summits is now on Wikipedia, and is also shown on the map below. Please note it may take a short while for the map data to load.
Thanks to “davidmcw” in the Nature and Science (Moderated) GEC Group for creating the map data file.