Hazel Strachan is an extraordinary Scottish walker, who has now walked nine rounds of the 282 Scottish mountains known as Munros.
For some people, it is enough to walk one or two of Scotland’s Munros. While for others a “round” of all 282 peaks of at least 3,000ft is the big challenge.
Yet for others, a love of Scotland’s great outdoors leads them on to walk Munro round after round. One impressive Munro hiker is Hazel Strachan, who this autumn finished her ninth full round.
At the end of September 30, Hazel walked to her 282nd summit of her latest round on a mountain called Ben Challum, near Tyndrum, in the Scottish Highlands.
As she reached the3362ft summit and touched the cairn (a huge pile of stones), she said toasted her success surrounded by friends. Raising (plastic) glasses of Champagne, Hazel told the group of people: “It feels fantastic to have finished another round of Munros.
“I have enjoyed many memorable walks during this round. In particular, a hike of the Fisherfield Munros in winter was incredible and it is something I will never forget.
“I have also had many great times camping out in remote places at 3,000ft during multi-day Munro outings.
“I am now looking forward to doing my 10th round.”
It was in the early 20th century that the late Sir Hugh Munro started to compile a list of all the Scottish mountains with a summit of 3000ft or more. He did not have access to modern satellite technology, which meant his list was not as accurate as it is today.
Over the decades, mountains have been re-measured and the list of Munros has gone up and down to settle at the current 282.
His Munros Table was the start of a Scottish hiking activity called Munro bagging.
The Munros are spread across Scotland, from the most southerly, Ben Lomond, on the banks of Loch Lomond, to the most northerly, Ben Hope, in the region of Sutherland. The most westerly Munro is on the Isle of Skye, Sgurr na Banachdich, in the Cuillin mountains, while the furthest east is Mount Keen in the Cairngorms.
Some Munros are a long and remote challenge to climb, while others, such as those on the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, require high levels of experience or a guide.
There are also Munros that can be more easily walked. Of course, this is relative to your hiking experience and levels of fitness but you can discover 10 of the easiest Munros.
To date, more than 6200 people have recorded a Munro round with the Scottish Mountaineering Club. There are also people who have also walked two, three and more rounds.
The ultimate record holder is Steve Fallon, who has completed 15 rounds. Hazel, of Bathgate, West Lothian, is the first woman to walk nine Munro rounds.
Hazel, a Scottish Government agricultural scientist, completed her first round of Munros in 2005. Her second round was finished in 2008, then 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, on completing her seventh Munro round, Hazel walked into the record books to become the first female to finish seven rounds. She broke a 20-year six-rounds record held by the late Geraldine Guestsmith.
She continued with another round, finished in August 2016, and then the latest ninth round was completed 13 months later.
Hazel walks most of her Munros on her own and during her ninth round she was accompanied on just four Munros. She also walks many Munros over long multi-day walks, when she wild camps in between ticking off Munros.
She also owes a lot to her retired husband Ian who provides support along the way in their motorhome. While Hazel walks, Ian enjoys a relaxing day and then has a cup of tea ready for when she returns.
During this latest round, Hazel also completed a charity challenge to walk 100 Munros in one month in aid of Scottish Mountain Rescue.
Hazel said: “I decided to include a new challenge as part of my ninth round so in June I walked 100 Munros and raised almost £2500 for the rescue service.”
Her latest Munro round was made more difficult because of unsettled summer weather. She said: “The summer in Scotland this year has been very wet and I do prefer to do Munros where I will stay dry and get a view. In fact, the winter walking was some of the best I have ever experienced.”
Steve Fallon holds the overall record for walking Munro rounds and has completed an amazing 15 Munro rounds.
Many Munros are well placed for hiking if you are planning a walking holiday in Scotland with Macs Adventure. You could, for example, choose to hike to the tallest Munro of them all, Ben Nevis, at the end of the West Highland Way.
Ben Lomond is also a Munro accessible from the 96-mile West Highland Way, but closer to the start.
Great Glen Way gives access to Ben Nevis, too, at the start of the walk near Fort William and also a Munro called Ben Wyvis near to Inverness at the end of the trail.
A Drive & hike: Inner Hebrides and Skye offers the opportunity for a guided day or two in the Cuillin mountain range on Skye where there are 11 Munros or an easier option is the outlying Munro Bla Bheinn. You can also enjoy spectacular views on the path from Glenbrittle that eventually rises up to the Cuillin ridge.
Macs Adventure Highlands & Islands Discovery holiday visits Glencoe where there are many options for Munro hikes, such as Buachaille Etive Mor or Buachaille Etive Beag. Mount Keen in the Cairngorms is another great option.
The Munro Schiehallion offers a wonderful hike and could be enjoyed during a Highland Perthshire Trail walking holiday.
For an even easier trip to the top of a Munro, you could take the funicular train at Cairngorm Mountain Resort and then join a walking tour to the summit. Look for details of the Walk @ the Top. See Top 5 Sights in the Cairngorms. The Speyside Way is the perfect holiday for a Cairngorm adventure.
If you would like to find out more about Munro bagging while on a walking or cycling vacation in Scotland, please do ask our Macs Adventure experts.