Ramblings of a Munro Bagger – John Fok, Rotarian from Perth in Scotland writes an entertaining account of life in Scotland and his hobby of walking the hills.......  I never set out to be a bagger. Indeed, when I started climbing my first few Munros, I was unfamiliar with the terms bagger and completist.
I had climbed a couple in the Ullapool area with the school Army Cadet Force and a few with the TA but kept no records of them, so I struggle to remember which. With retirement came leisure and I started to climb Munros again. This time I started a Log to keep track and so it was on the 9th April 2010, Ben Vorlich, by Loch Earn became the first entry. The next, Sgurr Dearg (the Inaccessible Pinnacle) on Skye was as exciting as it gets. It is the only Munro requiring a modicum of rock climbing skills, the use of ropes, the ability to abseil and a good head for heights. The day was wet, cold and windy and our guides were doubtful if we could complete the last stage. However, just as we were about to descend the mountain, the rain stopped and the winds dropped. The swirling clouds persisted though but it was deemed safe enough and so we roped up in twos and proceeded to climb the last 60 metres of the rock obelisk that is the In Pin. I was ever so grateful for the cloud because I could only see about 20 feet below me as I inched up nervously and not the near 1000 feet drop into the void. Once at the top, there were only a few moments to compose myself before having to abseil off to make room for the next pair. The abseil rope is tied to a chain around the base of a large rock. This chain looks only marginally bigger than the one your average bath plug would be attached to! I joined the Perth & District Hill Walking Club and participated in their monthly coach outings, as well as their quarterly weekend meets, which allowed 2-3 nights away in hostels in far-flung places. Activity with the Club as well as my younger daughter, neighbours, retired PRI colleagues and anybody else I could cajole to go out with me soon had the numbers totting up. I suspect it was the immense pleasure I got after completing the South Glenshiel Ridge, racking up 7 Munros in a day that I realized that numbers were becoming important and I was morphing into a bagger! I did not mind the label, as what was important was that I had a reason to keep venturing to the remotest parts of this beautiful country of ours. The lockdown occasioned by the Corona virus with travelled restricted to 5 miles was hard to bear, especially during May when the weather was ideal for walking. However, I have restarted in earnest and have 40 left to do. I intend to plod on and hope is to ‘compleat’ with Ben More on Mull next year. So, what have I learnt and what advice would I give to anyone starting this process? Hill walking is a great way to keep fit. You will learn map reading and navigational skills as well as develop planning and organizing skills. You will become intimately acquainted with Scotland. You can experience the most intense solitude or you can meet up with the most interesting of strangers out there. On balance, I have enjoyed the experience more when out with a companion or companions. Enlist the support and understanding of your partner. ‘Golf widows’ do not have to worry about their loved ones falling to their deaths off a green! A quick mobile call to inform that you are safely off the hill and commencing the drive home eases a lot of worries. Although it is easy to start with hills near home and work outwards, my advice is to start furthest afield and work back. Give it a try because you will not regret it. Happy bagging!