Project 282: Climbing all 282 Munros
A munro is defined as a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 feet that features on the list maintained by the Scottish Mountaineering Club. There are currently 282 peaks on the list.
Emily decided she would climb them all in one continuous journey and cycle between them, carrying everything she needed to hike and camp through a Scottish summer. Without a support crew to move her bike, all her mountain routes necessarily had to finish back at the bike, which added considerable distance to her self-propelled round. Emily also had to factor in buying food and doing laundry along the way!
Starting on Ben Hope in the far north of Scotland, Emily’s route took her in a generally southerly direction, to finish on Ben Lomond. Her route in the north was fairly straightforward with less roads to choose from, although some big remote multi-day expeditions on foot, away from her bike, needed careful planning, including around Knoydart, Loch Monar and Glen Affric.
Emily journeyed across to the Isle of Mull (by canoe) prior to crossing the Great Glen at Fort William. From there, she headed east, climbing the hills to the north of the A86 as she headed for the Cairngorms, firstly from Aviemore and then again from Braemar, after a long cycle round and over the Lecht to Ballater. From Braemar, she continued on through Glenshee and then joined the A9 heading north, bagging munros as she went.
From Dalwhinnie, Emily headed west, this time venturing into the hills to the south of the A86 and into Lochaber. After Glencoe, Emily crossed Rannoch Moor to the Bridge of Orchy, before heading for Loch Awe. Following Tyndrum, Emily made her last venture eastwards to climb the hills of Glen Lyon, Schiehallion and the Ben Lawers range. Into the home stretch, the Lochearnhead munros gave way to the Crianlarich hills, then the Arrochar Alps, before finally crossing Loch Lomond on a stand-up paddleboard to reach the final munro, Ben Lomond.
On 26 May 2018, Emily Scott set off to climb the most northerly munro – Ben Hope – and then work her way south in one long journey over all 282 of Scotland’s munros. Travelling between the munros on her bike, Emily spent almost 4 months on her Scottish adventure, covering over 4,800km entirely under her own steam.
Her route took her from the remote North of Scotland, with views stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, through the stunning landscapes of Assynt and then into the ancient mountains of Torridon, renowned as bedrock of the Earth. The weather for the first 3 weeks of the expedition was exceptional; high pressure dominated and sunny weather was an almost daily occurrence. Much to Emily’s relief, it initially was too warm and dry for the most feared of all Scottish creatures: the midge!
However, Scotland being Scotland, the good weather couldn’t last. During a long circuit of Loch Monar, encompassing 14 munros and 3 bothies, Emily encountered her first named storm: Storm Hector. She was incredibly grateful for the bothies she was able to stay in, especially as the rain lashed against the windows!
The Black Cuillins of Skye were up next and Emily was suitably intimidated by their reputation. Despite the best laid plans for a full ridge traverse with fellow British Adventure Collective friends, Ed and Aaron, the clag didn’t shift off the ridge until they had to return south. Emily then spent a number of days ticking off the munros along the ridge, joining John Smith from Skye Adventure for the most technical day, including the dreaded Inaccessible Pinnacle.
Crossing the bridge back to the mainland and continuing south, the numbers really started going in the right direction, with the large concentration of munros around Glen Shiel and over towards Loch Mullardoch falling over a number of days. The rough bounds of Knoydart gave a true sense of wilderness and it wasn’t too long before Emily made her way towards Mull. Ed, the logistics hero, stepped up again with another long drive on a Friday evening to meet at Lochaline with a canoe to enable the self-powered journey to continue over to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull, before cycling to Ben More: the only island munro not on Skye. 3 days, 270km of cycling, 10km on foot with a return paddle across the (thankfully calm) Sound of Mull felt like quite a lot of effort for one single munro!
60 days in and 113/282 munros down, Emily finally crossed the Great Glen, the geological fault line between Fort William and Inverness and a big psychological landmark of the trip. Little did Emily realise it would also be exactly the halfway point in terms of days through the expedition, although the second half would prove to be tougher.
Working east and into the Cairngorms, Emily managed to time the rare treat of company with atrocious weather for the highest multi-munro route taking in Braeriach, Angel’s Peak, Cairn Toul and the Devil’s Point. Aaron and Emily arrived at Corrour bothy a pair of cold, drowned rats, immensely grateful for the fire, rum and chat provided by the 3 lads from Aberdeen!
Cycling over the Lecht to reach Ballater was memorable, although not to be recommended with an expedition backpack on, especially in the wind. After Mount Keen, Emily returned into the heart of the Cairngorms to bag the remaining munros from the other side, earning the sticky toffee pudding on return to Braemar, along with one of her 3 rest days of the whole expedition. Huge thanks to the kind folk at Braemar Lodge Hotel for letting a rather smelly wee lass and her bike stay in the bunkhouse for 2 nights.
Starting to work back west, a soggy day in Glenshee took in 9 munros, certainly made easier by starting at 670m from the ski centre. Then a big few days away from the bike took in the 20 munros west of Loch Ericht and across to the Grey Corries. When Emily returned to the road at Spean Bridge, a generous offer of a lift 23km back along the road to her bike was hard to refuse, but the sweeties proffered were greedily munched instead.
After the Lochaber 4000ers, it was time for the most munros in one day: all 10 of the Mamores in a truly special part of Scotland. Cycling to Glencoe, after an unpleasant road rage incident where she was almost pushed off the road by a car, Emily decided that whilst there were still 72 munros to go, she would finish in just over 3 weeks so she could make it to her Great Uncle’s 80th birthday party.
Emily put her last day of good weather to great use with a real highlight of a 4-munro day including the infamous Aonach Eagach ridge. The stunning Glen Etive – the location of ‘Skyfall’ - was decidedly damp and a real low point. If there had been a way to quit, which didn’t involve getting on her bike and cycling somewhere, this would have been where it happened.
However, a credit card and a dry hotel room can work wonders and, having left everything spread out to dry, Emily rediscovered her mojo up on the Black Mount. Tough day followed tough day in increasingly unpleasant weather. Emily was getting run down in her push to the finish line and couldn’t fight an infection in her finger, which turned out to be a painful case of acute paronychia, requiring antibiotics to clear.
Storm Ali and its accompanying 100mph gusts certainly added some spice to the final push, forcing Emily to turn around at the top of Ben Vorlich and retreating down to the warmth of the fire in the pub at Lochearnhead, rather than continuing over to Stuc a’Chroin. That meant the following day started early and didn’t finish until past 3am after snowy summits on Ben More and Stob Binnein. Emily was still up against it, with 9 munros and 24 hours remaining before meeting people for the final munro. Dog tired and hallucinating about bothies being built in the Arrochar Alps, Emily grabbed an hour in her bivi bag next to a rock before the dawn started creeping into the sky and the penultimate two munros were ticked off in a blur, followed by a 15km cycle to Loch Lomond where the fantastic British Adventure Collective team had sorted logistics to have a paddle board waiting for Emily to hop on to. Reaching the other side of the loch at Rowardennan, there was only the most southerly munro left to go: Ben Lomond. After a huge push to get to the end, combined with lack of sleep, Emily found it to be very surreal when she was joined by a number of friends and people she had met along the journey to climb the last munro.
Finally, on 22 September 2018, Emily stood on the trig point on Ben Lomond, exhausted and elated, after a summer spent discovering Scotland and herself whilst climbing the munros. 282/282.
Project 282 in numbers
2,605km by bike
2,249km on foot
198,607m of ascent
60 nights camping
20 nights in bothies
Munros climbed: 282/282
Throughout the expedition, Emily was fundraising for 3 incredible organisations which work tirelessly to keep people safe in the outdoors, raising over £3,000 for Scottish Mountain Rescue, the Mountain Bothy Association and Air Ambulances UK. Any donations to these charities are still very much appreciated and we would encourage people to donate using the links below (and that UK taxpayers would consider filling in a Gift Aid declaration to allow the charities to benefit from an additional 20% from the government).
A special thanks from Emily
Whilst it was a solo trip, it would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of friends and family, be that with messages or phone calls when times were difficult, or visits and company on the hills. Emily’s parents and sister Lucie always offer their love and support, which is appreciated maybe more than she tells them.
The British Adventure Collective team of Aaron, Ed, Paul and Annabel were instrumental in giving Emily a push to actually get it off the ground and to help with logistical support for water crossings and the technicalities of the Black Cuillins, even if the latter didn’t go quite to plan. Annabel’s sticky toffee pudding cake which got carried up Ben Lomond in a saucepan was an amazing surprise to finish.
Chance encounters in the hills were very special, particularly with David on Conival and Iain & Diane in Creag Meagaidh and again on the road to Ballater, who all joined Emily to climb Ben Lomond. Crossing paths with Andrew on An Teallach led to company on 12 further munros as the challenge progressed, and help to get the antibiotics needed to clear up Emily’s finger infection. Being joined by friends, both new and old, along the way provided a real morale boost and whilst Emily was alone on 95 of the 120 days, the 25 days with company were savoured even more!