20 Things you need to know about the Munros
So you thought you knew it all, did you? You've read all the books, been drunk in all the pubs, eaten disgusting pudding suppers in all the chipshops, been blown off all the campsites, shivered in all the bothies, attended all the Hamish Brown lectures - and, finally, at some point, got round to popping up all the hills. Well, think again. Just when you thought it was safe to start climbing the Corbetts, it's time you realised there are only...... 20 things you need to know about the Munros:
- Munros are all over 3000 feet. This unit of measurement comes from the so-called "Imperial System" used in the days when the sun never set on the Road to Mandalay; it is the distance from Henry VIII's nose to the tip of his finger with arm outstretched. It is not known who Henry VIII was. One theory is that he was the eighth man to get his arm measured. (You're off the point already - tetchy Ed.)
- If Britain goes fully metric then the Munros are going to be in trouble as 1000 metres is much higher. Hence the shop in many highland villages resounds to conversations such as: "A pound of jam and a peck of muesli please, good victualler. Yes, I'm staying at the campsite three furlongs one chain down the road."
- Many of the Munros belong to so-called "landowners". Basically these are people who think they have the right to fire a 12-bore shotgun at you. It is not known what a 12-bore shotgun is. One theory is that whenever 12 bores get together they talk about shotguns.
- In case you meet a landowner whilst wandering on his or her property, it is worth learning the following phrase in German: "I am a wealthy tycoon with a large corporation".
- The queen is also a landowner with many estates. Tactics here should be different. You must follow "protocol" - which is simply a fancy way of talking. E.g. "That's a rare ermine cagoule you're wearing your worship". Alternatively, if the royal personage is a bit scruffy, try "Gadzooks my liege, your Balmoral is resplendent today".
- Prince Charles probably owns a hill or two on Deeside. If you meet him, simply pretend you are talking to a plant or tree. In contrast, the Duke of Edinburgh is a cantankerous old *?&$! and no protocol can save you from his fiery tongue. However, he is more fond of carriage riding than toiling up Lochnagar, so you are probably quite safe. You are also quite safe from Fergie and Di, as neither ever venture any further north than Shropshire.
- Another so-called "landowner" is Ian Anderson of the "pop" group Jethro Tull. If you meet him on Blaven one day simply stand on one leg and chant an incantation about 12th century seers.
- The Duke of Atholl owns Beinn a'Ghlo and has a private army. This is a relic of days gone by when Scots would occasionally take leave of their senses.
- Ally MacLeod owns Somerset Park and had a private army which he took to Argentina. This was in more recent times when Scots nevertheless still took leave of their senses.
- The Forestry Commission own quite a few Munros. This is a kind of asset-holding company for Terry Wogan, Cliff Richard and a few others.
- The first two Munroists were both clergymen. This does not mean that you have to be one too, but only working one day a week must help.
- The Munros were once all covered in trees. The trees were all eaten by the sheep in the Clearances. Alternatively, they may have been cut down by the Duke of Cumberland after Culloden in order to make his "Cumberland Pencils".
- The highest hill which is not a Munro is Mount Everest or Chomolungma (translation: Great Earth Mother Goddess of Double Glazing).
- There are those who talk about the "English Munros". This means the paltry 4 hills down on Albion's Plain which poke above the 3000' contour. A more challenging pursuit than climbing them would be to bag all 277 tearooms owned by someone called Munro.
- There are many fine peaks which are not Munros, e.g. The Cobbler, Pap of Glencoe, The Dumpling etc. Some of these get a fancy name as well, being called "Corbetts". Then there are "Munro Tops" - defined as that part of a hill furthest away from any sensible route. People who climb these usually end up in Rampton or Carstairs.
- Other hills which are not Munros include the comedian Ben Elton, the filmstar Sgurr na-h Weaver, and Jimmy Hill (we all know what he is ... ).
- The Munros are tabulated in a book called "Munro's Tables". This is not to be confused with "MacLeod's Tables" on Skye - a set of antique furniture kept in Dunvegan Castle.
- Sir Hugh Munro (known as "Shug" to his friends), is the only Scotsman ever to be knighted, despite a strong case being made for Jock Stein, the first British manager ever to win the European Cup, or even Jim McLean, the first Scottish manager never to win the Scottish Cup. (Look, I've just about had enough of all this football nonsense - cricket-loving Ed.)
- A little known fact is that Sir Shug Munro did not complete his own round of Munros. This is because his proper job was that of "Queen's Messenger", and Queen Victoria sent him out for half a pound of mince on the day he was meant to do the In. Pinn.
- All the Munros are north of the Highland Line. This is a railway running right across Scotland from Helensburgh to Stonehaven, and ought not be confused with the West Highland Line, a geological fault joining Milngavie and Fort William.
warbeck productions 1991
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