Munro bagging is an increasingly popular hobby and with 282 Munro summits to tick off it’s a pursuit that can take you on an amazing journey of discovery and geography – and over many years.
In the Cairngorms National Park alone there are more than 50 Munros to walk.
A Munro is defined as a Scottish mountain with a summit of at least 3,000ft (914.4m). It was Sir Hugh Munro who first came up with the concept of a list of these mountains in the late 19th century.
Over the years, thanks to more modern measuring devices, the list has gone up and down, but has now settled on 282 Munro summits.
Here we reveal some of the best Cairngorms Munros to hike in the National Park, each being suggested for a different reason.
The most famous of them all
Cairn Gorm with a summit of 4,084ft is one of the most well known summits in Scotland and a must-do for so many walkers. Strangely, although it is not the highest of the Cairngorm mountains, it is the one that has given its name to the range.
It’s possible to gain a lot of height without walking. Simply board Scotland’s only mountain funicular train at Cairngorm Mountain to ride uphill to a height of more than 3,500ft. From here you can take a guided “Walk to the Top”.
It’s important to note that in order to protect the high plateau, funicular passengers are not permitted to exit the top station to go on to the mountain unless they are booked on a guided walk or a guided mountain bike descent.
Of course, you can hike up and down without restrictions but it’s requested that you stick as close to paths as possible.
The Park’s tallest
Ben Macdui is the second tallest mountain in the UK after Ben Nevis and the tallest in Cairngorms National Park. At 4295ft, the summit offers wonderful vistas of the national park.
There is huge cairn with a trig point on the top of ben Macdui, as well as a view indicator that reveals the names of many of the surrounding mountains that can be seen on a fine day. See a suggested walking route of Ben Macdui.
A classic Munros pairing is to walk Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui together. The total hike is around 11 miles if you start and finish at Cairngorm Mountain Resort. There are good paths on the ascent and descent but the wilderness plateau can be difficult to navigate in poor conditions.
However, the rewards for your efforts are fabulous views throughout the hike and a spirit-lifting atmosphere that comes with being on a high plateau.
In winter, when there is a good covering of snow, the two mountains offer a superb ski touring route.
Look out for the fairies
The pyramidal peak of Bynack More, accessed from Allt Mor car park, to the east of Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, offers a wonderful walk amid superb scenery.
The path to Bynack also passes the picturesque Lochan Uaine – “green loch” – where legend has it the fairies wash their clothes.
The viewpoint from the 3,576ft peak is truly breath-taking, especially on a clear day. The most common return route is the same as the walk up. See Walk Highlands Bynack More for a suggested route.
The easiest Munro of them all
An easy Munro by anyone’s standards, The Cairnwell, near Braemar, requires just 918ft of ascent from start to summit. For this reason, The Cairnwell, and its two neighbours Carn Aosda and Carn a’ Gheoidh can be summitted quite easily in one day.
See The Cairnwell Munros for a suggested route.
Walk in the footsteps of a poet
When poet Lord Byron saw the Munro Lochnagar he was moved to write about it. The poem, entitled Lochnagar, celebrates the Aberdeenshire mountain and ends with these lines:
To one who has roved on the mountains afar
Oh! For the crags that are wild and majestic
The steep frowning glories of dark Lochnagar.
The summit ridge looks down over a superb corrie and a loch of the same name.
There are many more superb Munros to walk in the Cairngorms National Park and plenty of options for many great hiking outings. For help and assistance please get in touch with a local guide to help you explore the best the park has to offer.
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