First Winter Munros

Roger Smith offers a selection of hills to give you a first taste of winter on the high tops

Illustration photo of First Winter Munros

Winter walking has a magic all of its own. There are dangers, of course, but if you are well prepared you can get very special experiences in our hills in the snowy season. If you have never climbed a Munro in winter I’d suggest going with a more experienced friend if you can, and of course make sure you have the right gear with you. The hills listed here are all pretty straightforward in summer, and given good weather, would give you a great introduction to winter Munroing. Happy winter walking!

[1] Ben Lomond 974m
Scotland’s most southerly Munro is also one of the most popular. The hill is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, who have spent a great deal of money on the path over the years, making it easy to follow even in winter. The initial part of the ascent is fairly steep through forestry but once you break out onto the open hill the gradient eases and it’s a steady climb to the summit, from where you get a superb view of Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills. Start: Rowardennan (OS 56, NS361986).

[2] Mount Keen 939m
From the most southerly Munro to the most easterly. Mount Keen is enhanced by wintry conditions, and you get plenty of time to warm up on the longish walk-in from Glen Esk past the Queen’s Well. The path up is again obvious and broad. From the top a great view of the Cairngorm hills spreads out before you, and to the north you look down into Deeside. Make sure it’s a good day as it is a longer walk than some of the others. The alternative approach from the Ballater side is equally viable but even longer. Start: Glen Esk (OS 44, NO445805).

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[3] Ben Lawers 1214m
Beinn Ghlas 1103m
Yes, it’s a big hill, but not unduly difficult, and you can start at nearly 450m using the car park for the former NTS visitor centre (now demolished) – assuming, that is, that the wee road between Loch Tay and Glen Lyon is open! A marked route leads through a nature trail area and then up onto Beinn Ghlas (also a Munro so this is a mountain BOGOF), down a bit and then steadily up Lawers’ west ridge to the big cairn at the summit and, as can be imagined, a pretty impressive view. Start: Top of minor road from Loch Tay to Glen Lyon (OS51, NN609379).

[4] Mayar 928m
Dreish 947m
Another easy double. The two hills are separated by the high bealach on the path from Glen Prosen over to Glen Clova, an old right of way known as the Shank of Drumfollow. In good conditions you can pick up both tops in little more than an hour. An alternative route down is to head north from Mayar into the attractive Coire Fee. Start: Glen Doll (OS44, NO283762).

[5] Fionn Bheinn 933m
The only Munro beginning with F, Fionn Bheinn is a straightforward convex grass dome on its south side. It really is all about the view. Little is to be seen as you plod up from Achnasheen, but from the summit ridge a majestic sweep of Torridon giants fills the skyline to the north. Start: Achnasheen Station (OS25, NH164585; you will also need sheet 20).

[6] Geal Charn 917m
There are several Geal Charns. This is the one west of the Drumochter Pass and as with Lawers you start at over 400m. The ridge is easy enough, but the cairns you see from below are not at the summit, which is a little further on. Views extend across Loch Ericht to Ben Alder. Start: Balsporran Cottages (OS42, NN628792).

The Ski Hills
I have not included in the selection here what we might call the ‘ski hills’. These are Munros in areas with downhill ski development where you can use uplift, or in the case of Cairn Gorm the funicular railway, to take you within a short walk of the summit. No reason why you shouldn’t do these hills to give you a short sharp flavour of winter Munros. They are: Meall a’Bhuiridh, Glencoe; Aonach Mor, near Fort William; Cairn Gorm; The Cairnwell, Carn Aosda and Glas Maol (Glenshee).

Main Image: Ben Lomond (VisitScotland)