About the Author
My name is Colin Lamont.
I am an avid Skier and love to do a bit of Ski Touring or just going Banzai down the Piste at Aviemore or Glenshee. I also love to kayak and until recently I could regularly been seen Kayaking across the River forth from Aberdour to Leith and back.
The hills had become an all-consuming hobby in the years between 2008 and 2012 with a couple of small breaks in between and pretty much consumed most of my free time.
I now consider myself to be an experienced hill walker/runner and like nothing more than to spend the day on a hard slog in the hills over rough terrain, in horrible weather pitting my skills and endurance against the elements with or without company.
Am I Mad? Probably.
Ok so whats this Website about?
This is my website. It is a collection of short stories detailing the routes I took during my completed “Round” of the Munro’s. The Munro’s are a list of hills in Scotland with their summits over 3000ft in Altitude (914.4m) as documented by Sir Hugh Munro in 1892 and amended by the SMC (Scottish Mountaineering Council). The original list of Munro’s have been amended a number of times over the years as more accurate measuring with better technology has taken place and as it stands today, August 2013, there are currently 282 Munro’s on the list. Completing a “Round” of the Munro’s generally means visiting the summits of each of the Munro’s on the List in whichever order one chooses to do so over as many years as it takes.
Some of the routes I walked are large involving long weary days on the hills and some of the routes are small, enabling me to walk/run around them in a couple of hours or so. There are many hill walkers that have completed a round of the Munro’s and there are some that have completed many rounds of the Munro’s. However “My Round” which started in the normal kind of way, sumiting one or two Munro’s on a walk following the most common routes grew to include multiple summits on very long days in good times. This multiple summit long walk agenda sort of became an obsession and enabled me to complete “My Round” in a much shorter time than would otherwise have been possible.
I have not compiled these reports as a guide to walking the Munro’s, as there are many books out there that fulfill that purpose, although the routes I walked can quite easily be followed should the reader have a mind to do so.
My first Munro, although I knew nothing about the Munro’s at the time, was Ben Nevis which I sumited during the “Ben Nevis Men’s Race” in 1985. They dropped the “Men’s” part of the title due to political correctness some time later but I assure you that was what it was called at the time. Some years later in 2001 my nephew (Danny) asked me to accompany him and his friend on a “wee walk in the Highlands”. This “wee walk” happened to be over the Aonach Eagach ridge bagging two Munro’s in the process. Unbeknown to me at the time this ridge had a reputation as one of the most feared ridge walks on the Scottish mainland only surpassed by the magnificent Cuillin on Skye and it certainly lived up to its reputation. I suppose you could call it a baptism of fire but it was gloriously exhilarating at the same time.
I was now becoming aware of Sir Hugh Munro and his list and in 2002 Danny again invited me out on one of his walks. This time the walk was to include the Munro’s Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) and Stuc a Chroin. There is another Munro named Ben Vorlich but that is on the other side of Ben Lomond overlooking loch Sloy. However, due to a snow storm at the summit of Ben Vorlich we decided to call it a day and to complicate matters I fell near the summit and took an impact on my left femur (upper thigh bone) which nearly ended in tears.
Life’s ups and downs got in the way and it wasn’t until six years later in September 2008 that I was to venture back out into the Mountains again. This time I took one week’s break from work and went camping near the shores of loch Quoich. After an exciting week bagging a further four Munro’s I was hooked. I still had only bagged eight Munro’s but the list was calling me now and I was already looking for my next Munro walk. Four years and one month later I had completed the round.
During this time I walked mainly on my own. However I did walk some of the Munro’s with friends whose acquaintance I made along the way. I walked single Munro’s routes covering 6km (kilometres) or 7km, to multiple Munro routes covering up to 55km in one day. I failed some of my attempts and I got severe cramp on others. I walked in mist as thick as pea soup, I walked in glorious sunshine and I also got caught in a Thunder and Lightning storm on one precarious ridge.
I stayed overnight in bothies, (small hill cottages with bare facilities), and I walked in snow and torrential rain through snowfields and deep bogs. I got soaked to the skin on more occasions than I care to remember and I suffered from heat exhaustion on others. I walked off the beaten track and I also created new routes during my Munro bagging journey. I pushed my body to the limit on many occasions making walking to the shops difficult for days after and on reflection I have to say I enjoyed every minute off it. All in the name of a list created by Sir Hugh Munro.
I was more than happy to leave the well walked paths and tracks at a moment’s notice and the reader, if following my walks, should have no fear and be accustomed to walking over pathless bogs, heather and fern covered terrain and walking over Boulder fields of varying difficulty and degree of ascent. Not to mention steep scrambles, walking along Knife edge ridges and ascending/descending seriously steep hillsides. Of course good navigation skills are a prerequisite for doing so and I accept no responsibility for those that follow any off my walks without the required knowledge and skills to do so safely.
Safety in the Hills
Safety in the hills carries with it a degree of luck. You can be well prepared, both in skills and ability, carrying appropriate kit for the conditions and type of walk and yet one wrong move, one false step, one Burn (river) crossing too many and disaster can strike. I know of close friends that have got lost, broken ankles and sadly met their untimely end on what they would have considered to be a routine walk which perhaps they had walked many times before.
The key to successful hill walking is planning and preparation. Planning your route, pouring over maps checking the terrain, identifying likely obstacles, bogs, river crossings, steep ascents and descents, crags, creating waypoints and maybe even filling out a route card for easy on hill reference. There are also many online reports and blogs by other walkers (accessed via the Internet) that can be consulted beforehand.
Preparation including the correct clothing, sufficient food and water, enough time to complete the walk, (Noting the current hours of daylight unless of course you are planning some night navigation), correct clothing for the conditions, ice axe and crampons for winter walking and of course a bothy bag or means of getting out of the cold and rain if you do have an accident on the hill. In addition you will obviously need a map and compass and lights and a whistle to alert emergency services if needed. (6 blasts per minute on the whistle at regular intervals is the recommended action).
Water can be safely replenished in the hills saving on pack weight but I would boil or use Chlorine tablets on any water collected below 500m and you never collect water from stationery pools unless in an emergency. Always look for a good fast running water source/burn/river. It’s quite refreshing collecting and drinking pure highland water untreated by the multitude of chemicals that inhabit the tap water we pipe into our homes and in truth there are few parasites in our water in Scotland.
However, one word of caution, a dead Deer or Sheep lying in the pools above your water source could potentially prove problematic but in the four years I have walked in the hills I have never had any adverse reaction after drinking hill water and I know of others that have been drinking from Scotland’s hills for more than 20 years and never had any issues. There is always a risk but that’s life so with the current Health and Safety madness that inhabits the new millennium I have to caution you to drink hill water at your own volition. Oh and I mustn’t forget to tell you that walking can be dangerous and you do it of your own accord lol.
Deer Ticks (Ixodes Scapularis)
Now talking of Deer and I have seen huge herds galloping across the Glens and Corries, there is a tiny little “tick” that infests the hillside. This little beastie is the Deer/Sheep tick. Ha, you might think that’s ok, you have no problem with a little beastie that likes Deer and Sheep. Well unfortunately this wee spider like beastie likes humans too. It sits and waits on a blade of grass or branch of heather until its hyper senses feel the heat from an approaching body or smells the Carbon Dioxide from the exhaled breath or arguably sees its prey approaching. Let’s face it, humans are not the only ones with multiple senses. The Tick then stands on its hind legs flailing its other legs in all directions ready to grasp a hair or clothing fiber in order to climb onto its intended pray. It then climbs around until it finds the skin surface where it buries its head and feeds on the blood of the victim. Once it has had its fill it will then let go and drop off.
Well this little beastie can carry a disease, Lymes disease. There may be a parasite in the stomach of the tick that if transferred to the host will infect the host with the disease. If you catch Lymes disease you will be incapacitated in various ways for many years. I have had a few ticks on me in my time and I am ok so the parasite that carries the disease may not be present in every tick. However it would be best not to take the chance. Every time I come back from the hills I check myself over to ensure that I do not have an unwelcome passenger. If I do then I use a little “Tick removal tool” to safely remove it. I regularly see walkers in the hills wearing shorts but I prefer to always wear long trousers even in the summer to help ward of any Tick attention.
The Highland Midge (Culicoides Impunctatus)
Now there is one other beastie that can be infuriating at times, namely the Highland Midge. This tiny little biting fly rears its little head around the end of May beginning of June and reaches epidemic proportions from July to the end of August. It hangs around in September and tends to disappear to the delight of late summer walkers at the end of September. Again its main source of attraction is carbon Dioxide exhaled by Mammals. It will attack Deer, Sheep, Cattle and humans. It attacks either on its own or in huge swarms and although seemingly not carrying any disease or infection of any type its tiny little bite is seriously annoying.
You will regularly see walkers and campers fully dressed with something like a bee keeper’s hat on in the high heat of summer or tourists running about flailing their arms to the amusement of the native’s lol in an effort to get away from the beasties. There are a number of things that keep them at bay. They do not like direct strong sunlight. They can’t fly if the wind is more than 5mph and seemingly they don’t like Deet, a chemical poison that natives and visitors alike plaster themselves with. It has been said that “Avon Skin So Soft”, a cream you can purchase from the chemist, does a good job at keeping them at bay. However I choose no chemicals in the battle against these beasties. My approach is to keep fully covered or walk fast. Because I can be seen walking like a madman up the paths and ascents to the Munro’s I sweat furiously. I have found that if my arms are covered in sweat, the wee beasties land on my arms to bite me and instead believe it or not they drown. These guys are really tiny and it seems like they can’t swim, so I have discovered the natural remedy and it works for me. And lastly, if it pours with rain don’t think it is safe to venture outside of the tent without your midge net, they love the rain and apparently fly around dodging the rain drops.
You can buy an overhead midge net made from a tightly knitted acrylic mesh, from most walking shops in Scotland and in some shops you can buy a jacket made of the same material. Whichever type you purchase just make sure you do because high summer in Scotland can be a midge infested nightmare if you do not take appropriate precautions. You have been warned.
The weather in Scotland is seriously unpredictable. Local weather conditions can be vastly different to national forecasts and the saying “four seasons in one day” must have been coined in the Scottish Highlands. The Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS), available online, gives detailed weather forecasts for the Scottish Hills every day and the BBC and others give the general weather forecast. I have found that the forecasters generally over exaggerate the expected severity of the weather and that the conditions are never as severe as they have forecast them to be. However, the reader needs to experience for themselves the foretasted conditions and make their own judgement. Always be prepared for the worst if you venture out into the hills and keep safe.
Most of my walks follow the traditional routes and paths taken by the majority of walkers but some of them are walked “My way”, slightly off the beaten track. A number of the routes I walked are over multiple Munro’s walked in one day and the times taken would generally only be achieved by the fitter walker so if you chose to walk one of these particular routes, study it carefully to ensure that it is within your capabilities.
I didn’t take many photos during the early walks but I made up for that during the later walks. Most of the photos were taken using a camera on a mobile phone and although the quality of some of them is not so good, they do capture the atmosphere off the day. On balance though there are some spectacular views which I am sure you will enjoy. So grab yourself a coffee, sit back and enjoy the very best Mountains that Scotland has to offer.