one round of the Munros is enough of a challenge for most people.
Given that it takes an average of eight years to
climb all 284 Scottish peaks of 3000ft or higher, it’s hardly
surprising that the majority of the 4000 recorded finishers hung up
their boots in satisfaction at the end.
Some, though, have kept on walking. To date, 86 climbers have gone
on to complete a second circuit, while 30 have achieved their goal
of reaching every Munro summit three times.
For one extraordinary Munro-bagger there appears to be no end
to the pursuit of our nation’s most famous list ofmountains.
Having set an all-time record of 11 rounds in 2003, self-confessed
addict Steven Fallon last year finished his 13th round and is now
just 40 summits short of a 14th.
Describing his Munro walking as “a rewarding hobby”,
Fallon, 45, admits he has become a little obsessed over the years.
But it’s just something I love doing,” he says. “I
can’t ever see myself stopping. Why would I when these mountains
are so wonderful?”
Fallon, an IT systems developer, first contemplated climbing every
Munro after receiving a guide as a Christmas present from his parents
in 1988. The book was Munro’s Tables, the official list of mountains
in Scotland known to be “of at least 3000ft high”, which
was first recorded by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891.
Fallon, of Edinburgh, says he was instantly fascinated by the
through the list for the first time I was amazed at the sheer number
and geographical spread of Munros,” he explains. “I started
to notice, too, that I’d already climbed a few. Coming from
a family that walked, I suppose this was no surprise, but it did give
me a good start for a first round. “In 1975, aged 11, I’d
climbed Ben More near Crianlarich, which turned out to be my first
ever Munro. Then I just thought, ‘well, if I’ve already
ticked off a few why don’t I get out there and do the rest.“’ His
mission began in the spring of 1989 with Ben Chonzie, near Crieff
in Perthshire. By 1992, Fallon had made his first "compleation" (the
archaic spelling used to describe a completed round of Munros) with
an ascent of Fionn Bheinn, near Achnasheen. Keen to revisit some
of his favourites, Fallon quickly found he had notched up the first
Munros of a second round and by 1994 had finished another complete
round, this time making his last climb on Sgurr nan Gillean, on
Over the next decade, the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC), which keeps a record
of Munro compleatists, reveals that Fallon walked a round a year, and by July
2006 he had completed 13.
“I couldn’t really tell you at the 1 time what drove me on to do
round after round,” says Fallon, who has walked a total of 21,500 miles
and climbed 7.7million feet - the equivalent of 275 ascents of Mount Everest
- since 1989.
||“It was a mixture
of a challenge - and my love for the mountains. Certainly I like
to escape the stresses of my everyday life, and I find climbing
Munros extremely therapeutic.
I’ve seen each Munro in so many different types of weather,
seasons and light. And so much walking has helped to keep me very
fit.” After his first few rounds Fallon became aware of other
walkers who had done multiple compleations. “I saw from the
SMC website that Hamish Brown, a prolific walker and writer, had completed
six rounds in the sixties and seventies. And by 1995 Stewart Logan
had done seven rounds,” he says. “It was then that I thought, ‘if
other people can do so many, then so can I.“’ By 2002
Fallon had broken Logan’s record, set in 1999, of 10 rounds.
Now a serious amateur fell runner, having joined Carnethy Hill Running
Club, Fallon completed his 11th round in just nine months. The following
year, 2004, he had finished another. Munro bagging, says Fallon, is
often as much about the planning and travelling as the actual ascent. “While
some of the southerly Munros, such as Ben Lomond, are easy enough
to reach from the central belt, others, such as those on Skye and
in Knoydart, can take ages to get to,” he says. “I have
become very clever at planning routes that take in numerous Munros
in one outing. I’m also obviously familiar with many of the
routes so they do not seem as difficult as they used to be.
| “In one
day I once managed to polish off 12 Munro summits, but I admit this
was very exhausting. Most people will be doing at most three or
four in a day.”
It would appear that Munro bagging does push some walkers to take
on some surprising challenges. The SMC list includes 23 walkers who
have completed a non-stop, car-free round, walking or cycling between
In 1974, Brown became the first to walk a non-stop Munro tour, covering
1639 miles and climbing a total of 449,000 ft in 112 days. He also
claims a “calendar round” (walking a different Munro every
day of the year) and was the owner of the first dog to walk a Munro
Other notable compleatists include Kathy Murgatroyd, who in 1982 became
the first woman to complete a continuous round. Steve Perry braved
the ice and snow to become the first Munro-bagger to complete a non-stop
round in winter; he was also the first to have walked a continuous
double round. The speed record is currently held by Charlie Campbell,
who managed a round in just 48 days. While Fallon acknowledges every
one of these achievements with a smile, he says his Munro-bagging
is a far simpler pleasure. “I like walking mountains, and I
like walking Munros in particular. Sometimes I go with friends and
sometimes I go alone, but every time is rewarding.
I don’t think I even set out with the aim each year of doing
a round, but somehow the number of summits I reach just mounts up.
Usually at some point I’ll realise that I only have another
50 or so to go and so I set off to finish those off.” Since
2004, Fallon has, however, slowed a little. “I took about two
years to do my l3th round and my 14th will have taken more than a
year too,” explains Fallon. “But this has more to do with
the number of hill races I’m now doing – not because the
Munros are any less attractive.”
More on Steven's website here