Height certainly isn’t everything (see our pick of Scotland’s Best Wee Hills), but there seems little doubt that many people find some extra motivation when the objective reaches over that magical 3000 feet height. Here is our pick from some of the Munros that may be suitable for people early in their hillwalking career.
Note that no Munros are really easy – anyone going hillwalking needs to learn basic map-reading skills, including the use of a compass, carry appropriate clothing and pay attention to the weather forecast – take a look at our skills and safety section for more information. It is also important to note that when there is snow lying on the hills, ascents also require the carrying of ice axe and crampons and the skills to use them; hillwalking in winter is a form of mountaineering. It is better to gain experience and knowledge to tackle the mountains in summer before attempting the step up to mountaineering in winter.
Together with the highest – Ben Nevis – Ben Lomond ranks as the most ascended of the Munros, and is very popular with first-time Munro-baggers. The reasons are obvious – it is close to Glasgow, there is a very popular path aiding the ascent in summer, and the views over Loch Lomond and its islands are simply superb. Our route description below tackles the usual route for the ascent but varies the descent by using the Ptarmigan ridge – a rockier and steeper route; those with less experience could return the same way.
Route: Ben Lomond
Ben Chonzie is a very different hill – the highest summit of the vast area of hills and moorland between Lochs Tay and Earn. Again it is very accessible from the central belt. Although less dramatic than Ben Lomond, Ben Chonzie can make for a great walk too – look out especially for mountain hares, as Chonzie is home to a huge population of these delightful creatures. It’s also a popular choice for those making the transition from summer into winter hillwalking.
Route: Ben Chonzie
Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas
Ben Lawers is one of the very highest Munros, but the high pass between Loch Tay and Glen Lyon means that hillwalkers can begin their climb from the car park at over 400m and bring it within reach of a fairly straightforward hillwalking day. It is another hugely popular ascent, with the added bonus of taking in another Munro – Beinn Ghlas – along the way.
Route: Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas
Mount Keen is the most easterly of the Munros, appearing as a gentle cone rising above the great plateau of the eastern Mounth. It can be climbed by a long (though straighforward) route from Glen Tanar to the north, but it is the route up through Glen Mark – at the head of Glen Esk – in Angus that provides the most straightforward outing.
Route: Mount Keen
Schiehallion is a very prominent mountain, a feature of the famed Queen’s View over Loch Tummel and taking a very impressive conical form when seen from Loch Rannoch. The ascent makes use of a well-made path constructed by the John Muir Trust on its lower slopes, though the final section is over the more testing terrain of extensive boulder fields. It is another very popular choice for a first Munro ascent.
Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn)
There is another Ben Vorlich above Loch Lomond, but it is the Ben Vorlich above Loch Earn that makes our choice of the easier Munros. Another mountain within easy reach of the Central Belt, the usual route is from Ardvorlich on the shores of the loch. Note that the route linked below continues from the summit of Ben Vorlich to climb the second, much more challenging Munro of Stuc a’Chroin which has steep, scrambling terrain; those with less experience should return the same way from the first summit.
Route: Ben Vorlich
The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda
In terms of physical effort, these two must rank as the easiest amongst all the Munros, with the ascent beginning from the ski centre at the summit of the Cairnwell Pass road between Glen Shee and Braemar. The slopes on this side are extensively scarred by the ski developments which can detract from the feeling of getting ‘out there’ into the hills, but still provide great views. The route below includes a detour out to a third Munro – Carn a’ Gheoidh – which is wilder and less frequented; this can be omitted by those looking for an easier walk.
Route: The Cairnwell Munros
North of the Great Glen the Highlands become much more rugged, and the hillwalking is generally more challenging. The most northerly of all Munros, Ben Hope, does provide a shorter, more straightforward day than most in this region, but we’ve selected Ben Wyvis – a big mountain but much closer to the main routes and to Inverness. There’s a steep climb up to An Cabar but with a fairly good path; the final stretch across the plateau needs more navigation in misty conditions.
Route Ben Wyvis
Buachaille Etive Beag
A more straightforward hillwalk amongst the awesome rocky peaks of Glencoe? This dramatic and iconic glen offers some of Scotland’s more challenging hillwalking and mountaineering, and most of the summits are unsuitable for those yet to gain much experience. The smaller of the two Buachailles, though, has a well constructed though steep path up to the bealach between its two Munros of Stob Dubh, and the lower Stob Coire Raineach, and the scenery is simply stunning all around. Particularly careful navigation is needed to stay on the correct route on the steep ascent to the more southerly Munro.
Route Buachaille Etive Beag