The Angry Corrie 14: Aug-Sep 1993

Munro Abolition Debate

CRAIG WELDON has obviously read TAC12...

...he's replied to the MUNRO ABOLITION DEBATE

Munro guidebooks unavailable - hooray! Why do you think the Munros are becoming more overcrowded and eroded? Simple - information. The Munro Show, Hamish's Big Walk, A Munroist's Log (for Pete's sake), TV and press coverage (increasing public awareness), but most of all the SMC Munro guides.

If you were a middleaged fart with a Sierra (the most numerous type on the hills these days), would you climb a hill without being told which way to go, running the risk of trackless bogs, unfordable rivers, impenetrable plantations and, worst of all, finding some unavoidable scrambling on your self-chosen route? It's more than likely that the number of baggers would drop. And producing a book of a selection of the best and less eroded hills is no solution. They would just receive some new name, like the Bennets or Gilhooleys, and attract the same rabid summit baggers.

But a possible solution is at hand. Those who suffer from listomania (surely there is no other reason for climbing Ben Chonzie?) could easily produce their own, individual, baglists - the production of which is enjoyable in itself. Onto the list could go hills whose names you like the sound of, hills you've heard of, hills you've seen pictures of, hills you just like the look of on maps. In Strath Bran, I fell in love with Sgurr a'Glas Leathad the minute I saw it, it just had to be climbed. It turned out to be a fine viewpoint. Moruisg will have to wait for another day. I do not toss and turn in bed at night at the thought of never climbing Carn Aosda, Beinn Tulaichean or Geal Charn, but I hope before long I will be able to visit the Trotternish ridge, Craignaw near the Merrick with its Deil's Booling Green, or the fine viewpoints and scrambles in Ardnamurchan. There is more to climbing furth of the Munros than The Cobbler and Suilven! And there is more to the Munros than doing all the boring ones before being able to return to An Teallach!

But to return to the point. Obviously the purpose of any measures taken is to reduce the number of people on the Munros. I would make the suggestion that the real solution is not, in fact, to reduce the number of Munrobaggers. Bear with me. Take a look at the start of a typical bagging day - let's go to the Inveruglas hydro road on a Saturday. Have a look around you and try to identify why all these folk are here. They are obviously not here for solitude - or they would have arrived much earlier or headed somewhere that wasn't in the Munros book. They aren't here for a strenuous workout - or they would be planning to do the Arrochar Alps (where they? - Ed) in one go, rather than piecemeal. They can't be here for the scenery - it's peeing down and the cloud is hiding the top of Sloy dam. There can be only one conclusion. The majority of folk are here to bag.

After a while, the average bagger becomes uninterested in the hills he is climbing, till only the tick on the wall map has any importance. If the hills become secondary to the sport of bagging, why not transfer Munro's Tables to something else? Why not?? Instead of 'Munro's Tables of peaks over 3000ft in Scotland', we could have 'Munro's Tables of bumpy fields in Suffolk', or 'Munro's Tables of street names beginning with S in large towns in Britain'. Obviously, rules would have to be introduced to make the bagging of new Munros as much a task as climbing the 3000ft peaks of Scotland. (This is okay, as the suburban Anglophiles who make up the most committed baggers love rules.) To bag, for example, the bumpy fields Munros, you would not be permitted to drive up the road beside the field and hop in and out. Oh no, that would be cheating, like getting a cablecar up the hills. It would be necessary to start from a convenient village several miles away, the recommended route in the Munros Book taking a tortuous but interesting course along Roman Roads, across streams (surely 'brooks'? - Ed.), through fields with bulls, and straight over arable crops. The baggers could confront lots of angry farmers, something which the English psyche is much better suited to deal with than coming to terms with a wilderness experience or bothy etiquette. The equivalent to the In Pinn could be the ascent of a particularly high tree, or crossing a busy road at the red man.

The English could finally get their very own Munros, and the rest of us could be left to climb our pointless 3000ft peaks in peace - pointless to the bagger because they would no longer be Munros!

TAC 14 Index