Club completes challenge to bag all Munros in one day
2021-09-11 03:04
image source, Jamie Paterson
image captionDaniel Stansfield (left) and Jamie Paterson completed the technically difficult Cuillin ridge in Skye

An Edinburgh running club has bagged all Munros in a single day - becoming the first known group to achieve the feat.

About 120 members of Carnethy Hill Running Club took part in the challenge to reach the summit of all 282 Scottish mountains over 3,000ft.

It took them to the remotest corners of the country, including peninsulas and islands.

And they completed the task with just minutes to spare.

Some runners bagged 12 summits covering distances of up to 40 miles, while others made solo efforts after nightfall on routes which were boggy or had no paths.

image source, James Kennedy
image captionJames Kennedy and Bobby Greig took part in the challenge, which was completed in 16 hours and 48 minutes

The weather for many on the West Coast Munros was bad with heavy rain and poor visibility on 14 August, and many said they would have turned back if it were not for the challenge.

Some bagged Munros that would normally take two days to walk to as they are so remote, while others completed ridges that often take several days.

The team was made up of highly experienced record-breaking hill runners as well as others who were new to hill adventures.

Michelle Hetherington ran over the Monar Munros covering 31 miles (50km) and Sasha Chepelin and Ali Masson managed 40 miles (65km) on a new South-of-Glen Shiel Round.

The club, which is based in the Pentland Hills, completed the challenge in 16 hours and 48 minutes.

The first Munro, Beinn Dearg, north of Bruar, was bagged at 07:00 by 79-year-old and former Carnethy president, Keith Burns.

image source, Raph Bleakley
image captionThe visibility was poor on the west coast Munros

Declan Valters, was one of the solo runners who took on an extremely long and remote section of Munros.

He started at Kinlochhourn at 05:30 to cover the Knoydart and Loch Cuaich Munros.

He said: "Progress to Barrisdale was slow. The rivers and burns were in spate from the night before's rain, and the start of the path was chest high in wet bracken, soaking me through within about 10 minutes of starting.

"At Barrisdale Bay, I was so wet I figured there was nothing to lose by wading across the river mouth, which was fortunately at low tide with the sea loch, and that saved a couple of kilometres trekking upstream to the footbridge at the bothy.

"It was clagged in on the summit so I couldn't see very far in front of me."

image source, Declan Valters
image captionDeclan Valters slept on one of the mountain tops as he was too far away from any roads to leave before morning

Declan took an unusual route involving steep sections in a bid to fit in eight Munros.

His route was pathless, boggy and extremely difficult. He navigated with a compass and burned precious time constantly referring to his map.

He said: "I could only see a few metres in front of me and I was worried I would go off the line and into a wrong glen.

"I wasn't expecting to have to scramble at sections as there isn't much written about these Munros due to their remoteness. Rock features kept appearing out of the mist."

image source, Lourdes Nicolini
image captionLourdes Nicolini, Manuela de Mendonça and Morven Ross did Carn a'Chlamain

By nightfall, Declan was still on the remote hillside.

He said: "It was getting a bit scary between the weather, the terrain and the distance. I was also feeling a bit nauseous and my knees were taking a battering.

"It was scary not being able to see over the edges."

His progress was being tracked by the club, and when a member noticed that he was not going to make his final Munro before midnight they scrambled another team.

image source, Mick James
image captionMick James was part of the duo who were scrambled in the final hours to complete the final Munro

Mick James and Jonathan Marks were in a bothy at Cluanie recovering from their separate Munro rounds of about 16 miles (26km) and 8,202ft (2,500m) of ascent when they were called to do the last Munro, Gairich.

Mick told BBC Scotland: "We drove to the foot and started running up in shorts and T-shirts, it was so boggy we would fall down holes and suddenly be submerged up to the waist in water.

"You can break a leg like this but we had wanted to get to the top for the team."

They received the call at about 21:00 and reached the top in darkness at 23:48.

Mick said: "There was no time to celebrate though as we realised it was actually now very cold and we were shivering in our wet T-shirts as we waited for Declan."

image source, Jamie Paterson
image captionDaniel Stansfield on top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle, a fin of rock measuring 50 metres along the longest edge of Sgùrr Dearg on the Isle of Skye

They then received word that Declan was going to sleep on the top of a Munro until morning in a bivvy bag as he was too far away to reach a road - so they ran back down the mountain.

Ken Fordyce, who was at his house recording every time a runner reached a summit, said: "This day was without doubt the most thrilling hill-related event in my life and I barely left my kitchen table in 17 hours. My phone was pinging non-stop.

"It was tremendous watching the hills get knocked off, although it was very difficult to keep up with them in the early to mid-afternoon.

"A few people went off grid for a while but thankfully re-emerged to confirm another set of hills to turn blue on the Walk Highlands map.

"It was very hard to work out if it was going to be possible or not. I personally couldn't see how the Cuillin ridge guys were going to get that done, but they assured me they would, and they did, comfortably."

image source, Mark Hartree
image captionMark Hartree did a round of nine Munros over 12 hours with his dog Barra

Mark Hartree, president of Carnethy Running Club, said it was their "audacious" approach and commitment that saw them succeed.

He said: "My hat is doffed to everyone who participated. It was courageous. We did it.

"We pulled together as a club a quite audacious plan, we committed in short time and executed it safely from bagging the first top to ticking the last top."

UK charity Water Aid has tried several times to complete the challenge without success, although it came close in 2007.

And in 1988, 2,000 people took part in the Boots Across Scotland challenge, but fell two summits short of completing the task.

image source, Catriona Graves
image captionCatriona Graves did Sron a'Choire Ghairbh and Meall na Teanga
image source, Richard Umpleby
image captionRichard Umpleby (left) and Peter MacDonald did a round of nine Munros
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