Thursday 10 September 2009

Munro Changes

So the great Munro revision has happened, and Sgurr nan Ceannaichean, a pleasant if not that distinctive hill rising above Glen Carron, has been found to miss the all important 914.4 metre (3,000 feet) altitude by one metre and so is reclassified as a Corbett. The other hills surveyed - Munro Beinn Teallach above Loch Lagan, Munro Ben Vane above Loch Lomond and Corbett Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe in Knoydart - all retain their current status, though only by 0.2 metres in the case of the first. The last misses Munro status by just under a metre. All this has been discoverd by The Munro Society in field surveys carried out earlier this year. The reason is to have accurate lists - and not to sell more guidebooks and maps, as some cynics have suspected. The Munro Society doesn't sell anything and its members spent their money and time to do the surveys - and will do so again next year to check other hills near the magic cut-off altitude. Of course the Munro and Corbett guidebooks are all out of date now but one page inserts should do to explain the new position at least until the Munro Society has finished its surveys. Then will be the time for new editions.

Does all this matter? Of course not. Except as part of the game of collecting summits. The hills don't change and I would argue strongly that the finest and wildest of the four hills resurveyed is the lowest. It`s certainly the remotest and hardest to climb. Having lists sets targets and can act as an inspiration to go out in poor weather - which in itself can result in some wonderful days as well as some miserable ones. Changes in the lists are not that important. Since I started climbing the Scottish hills over thirty years ago there have been several changes to both the Munros and Corbetts lists. And none has made any significant difference. Of course if you just dash up to the top by the shortest route and the tick in the book is all then one or two hills more or less might seem to matter. But ticking off the hills should only be the superficial reason for climbing them. Exploration, beauty, adventure, nature, wildness, freedom are all far, far more important. So don`t forget Sgurr nan Ceannaichean. It's just as worth climbing as it was two days ago when it was a metre higher.

Photo info: Sgurr a’Choire-bheithe. Canon EOS 300D, Canon EF-S 18-55@55mm, 1/125 @ f5.6, ISO 100, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.4.


  1. Chris,

    Do you know the reason for these changes? Are the techniques for measuring more accurate? Or has the level of the see risen around the British isles? Did the Airy Ellipsoid date changed? Is the Scottish ground rising (like in Norway) or falling?


  2. I think the techniques for measuring are more accurate. The west of Scotland is still rising, rebounding from the melting of the ice of the last glaciers, but not enough to make any significant difference to hill heights as far as I know.

  3. Very good points Chris. I am getting fed up with bagging but still love the hills.

    By the way I was in Lairig Leacach bothy on Wednesday night and saw that you had signed the book while on the TGO Challenge this year.

    A nice place and a noisy mouse.

  4. Thanks Chris. I popped into Lairig Leacach for shelter and lunch on an incredibly windy day -I was barely able to stand up at the top of the pass - but didn`t stay the night though I have in the past.