Since I’ve been living in Scotland for a little over two months, I thought it was about time I try one of the country’s favourite national pastimes: Munro bagging. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this sport involves attempting to climb as many of Scotland’s mountains as possible. But not just any mountains – Munros are mountains that stand higher than 3000 feet, and there are 282 in the country.
Before I could think of attempting to climb multiple mountains, I wanted to see if I would survive climbing one Munro. I consider myself to be a relatively active person, but I’ll admit that I’ve been spending more time indulging in Scotland’s junk foods rather than exercising as of late. It’s also been a while since I went on a proper multi-hour hike, so you could say I was feeling slightly underprepared before climbing this Munro.
You might find this guide helpful if you decide to hike a Munro last-minute, or if (like me) you’re more passionate about eating your body weight in Galaxy chocolate bars than you are about exercising.
At the very least, this guide will give you an idea of what not to do when preparing to climb your first Munro.
With 282 options, trying to choose which Munro to climb can seem like a daunting task. The solution: take no part in the planning process and let someone else choose for you.
Step 2: Buy the cheapest hiking shoes you can find, regardless of the fact that they’re not your size
I had one requirement when searching for hiking shoes: they needed to be as inexpensive as possible. I managed to find a pair on sale for £20, but they were a size too large. After trying on one shoe and taking approximately two steps in the store, I declared them to be perfectly adequate and quickly purchased them.
Luckily my laziness and determination to save a buck paid off – apparently you should buy a shoe or boot that is a half or full size larger to keep from injuring your toes when going downhill. Ahem, I mean that is precisely the reason I bought shoes that were too big…
Step 3: Buy your hiking shoes two nights before the hike, and don’t break them in
Continuing my pattern of carelessness and general ineptitude, I decided to purchase my shoes two days before the climb, and forgot that it’s best to wear them a few times prior to your hike to break them in. Luckily my shoes were a size larger and I wore two pairs of socks, so I remained blister-free and pain-free for the duration of the climb. Yay for dumb luck!
Step 4: Don’t exercise at all during the weeks leading up to the hike
Truth be told, I did exercise a little before the climb, but not nearly enough. I went for lengthy walks and even attempted to run a few times (read: slow motion jogging interspersed with frequent bouts of walking), but a more frequent and vigorous exercise routine probably would have kept me from feeling like I was hit by a bus the day after the climb.
Step 5: Bring a really disgusting sandwich to eat for lunch
We stopped at a supermarket to buy water, snacks, and lunch on the way to the Munro, so I’m going to blame my poor decision on the fact that I was in a bit of a rush. Take my advice and don’t buy a prawn, mayo, and rocket sandwich to eat halfway through the climb – especially a pre-packaged one from Sainsbury’s. Needless to say, the walk down the Munro wasn’t a pleasant experience with a stomach full of luke-warm shellfish and questionable mayonnaise.
A few actual tips…
I hiked Ben Vorlich – which is just under two hours from Edinburgh on the banks of Loch Earn – and I’d highly recommend it for your first climb. The hike took roughly 5 hours roundtrip, but we made frequent snack stops and took a selfie-style photo shoot at the top for an embarrassingly long amount of time. I’m sure it could easily be done in 4 hours or less.
Don’t forget to dress in warm layers and bring some waterproof clothing!
Have you conquered any of Scotland’s Munros?