A Munro is a Scottish mountain with a height over 3,000 feet (914.4 metres). They are named after Sir Hugh Munro (1856–1919), who produced the first compilation of a catalogue of such hills, known as Munro's Tables, in 1891.
Before the publication of Munro's Tables there was considerable uncertainty about the number of +3,000 ft peaks in Scotland, with estimates ranging from 30 to over 300. Sir Hugh Munro's original list, published in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in September 1891, listed 538 summits over 3000 feet, of which 283 were regarded as "separate mountains"; the term Munro applies to the latter, while the lesser summits are known as tops. Munro did not set any measure of topographic prominence by which a peak qualified as a separate mountain, and much debate has since taken place over how distinct two hills must be if they are to be considered as two separate Munros.
The Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) have carried out a number of revisions of the tables, both in response to new height data on Ordnance Survey maps and to address the perceived inconsistency as to which peaks qualify for Munro status. As of 1997, all peaks with a prominence of 500 feet (152.4 m) or more have been given Munro status. This has resulted in the subsidiary summits of several well-known mountains, such as Beinn Alligin, Beinn Eighe and Buachaille Etive Mòr, gaining Munro status. This is in line with other classification schemes in Scotland, such as the Corbetts (2500–3000 feet) and Grahams (2000–2500 feet), which require a peak to have a prominence of 500 feet for inclusion; however, the Munros still lack a rigid set of criteria for inclusion, with many summits of lesser prominence listed.
Despite their relatively modest height compared with some continental ranges, walking and climbing in the Scottish mountains may be made treacherous by their latitude and exposure to Atlantic weather systems. Even in summer, conditions can be atrocious; thick fog, strong winds, driving rain and freezing summit temperatures are not unusual. Winter ascents of certain Munros are widely accepted to provide among the most challenging ice climbs in Europe. Some walkers are unprepared for the often extreme weather conditions on the exposed tops and many fatalities are recorded every year, often resulting from slips on wet rock or ice.
Some hillwalkers climb Munros with an eye to climbing every single one, a practice known as "Munro bagging". Having climbed all of them, a walker is entitled to be called a Munroist. Munro-bagging is a form of peak bagging.
Hugh Munro never completed his own list, missing out on Càrn an Fhidhleir and Càrn Cloich-mhuillin (downgraded to a "top" in 1981). Sir Hugh is often credited with missing out the Inaccessible Pinnacle of Sgurr Dearg, on the Isle of Skye, which he never climbed. However the "In Pinn" was not included on his list (despite being several metres higher than Sgurr Dearg, which was).
The first "compleationist" is generally believed to be the Reverend A. E. Robertson, in 1901. However, research has cast doubt on this claim, and it is not certain that he reached the summit of Ben Wyvis. If Robertson is discounted the first Munroist is Ronald Burn, who completed in 1923. Burn is also (indisputedly) the first person to climb all the subsidiary "tops".
Hamish Brown did the first continuous self propelled round of the Munros (except for the Skye and Mull ferries) between 4 April and 24 July 1974 walking 1,639 miles (2,638 km), 150 km of which were on a bicycle, with 449,000 feet (137 km) of ascent. The walk is fully documented in his book Hamish's Mountain Walk, which is often credited with kick-starting the popularity of Munro-bagging as a hobby. Most munro-baggers take several years to complete this challenge.
The first reported completion of all the Munros plus the subsidiary tops in one continuous expedition was Chris Townsend in 1996. His trip lasted between May 18th and September 12th (118 days), he covered a distance of 1,770 miles (240 by bicycle) with 575,000 feet of ascent. The round was broken twice for spells at the office.
The first person to complete a winter round (all the Munros in one winter season) was Martin Moran in 1984/85. His journey lasted between December 21st 1984 and March 13th 1985 (83 days), he walked 1,028 miles with 412,000 feet of ascent. He used motor transport (Campervan) to link his walk.
In the winter of 2005/2006, Steve Perry completed a continuous unsupported round entirely on foot (and ferry).
The person with the most rounds of Munros is Steven Fallon from Edinburgh, having 'completed' 13 rounds in 2006.
The SMC recognises 6 peaks in England, 15 in Wales and 13 in Ireland that would be Munros or Munro Tops if they were in Scotland. These are referred to as Furth Munros.