That is the end of a busy two weeks with 5 lectures now complete and last nights was at Grantown On Spey at the Grant Hotel for the Munro Society annual dinner.
The Munro Society
Founded in 2002 membership is open to mountaineers who have climbed all the Munro summits in Scotland as listed in Munro’s Tables – currently there are 282 mountains of Munro status with a height of 3000ft or more above sea level. Many such Munroists, who are often said to have ‘compleated’*, register their detail with the Clerk of the List. This official list is maintained by the Clerk on behalf of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and now exceeds 5,000 names. However, a substantial percentage of ‘compleaters’ do not register their details for a variety of reasons.
The Munro Society welcomes all Munroists who have compleated whether or not they have registered with the Clerk of the List.
The Society exists to bring together the wealth of mountain experience that members have accumulated and thus provide a forum in which to share interests and concerns as well as creating opportunities for convivial gatherings.The objectives of the Munro Society are:
- To secure access to and conservation of Munros as areas of wild mountain land.
- To foster social and cultural exchange between members.
- To establish and maintain an archive of material relative to the Munros and Munroists.
* The term ‘compleation’ has been used by various Clerks of the List for many years. Compleat is an archaic spelling of complete.
For more information see http://www.themunrosociety.com/
I was fairly tired as I left Glenmore Lodge on Saturday after a great breakfast, the snow was down on the Cairngorms and it was very wet. Everyone at the Mountain Rescue Conference was busy as they headed to the day’s activities at the Conference and I got great feedback from my chat the previous night on Mountain Rescue, especially from many of the younger people. I left them all early mid-morning it was a scene of activity and learning. I was planning to do a short walk with two pals Kenny and Elaine Kennworthy and after a coffee at the Squirrel Café in Glenmore we decided that the wet high peaks were out. We went for a low level 2 hour walk round the woods in Grantown and had a fine time. The trees are incredible colours just now and though damp and cold we had a great walk round another area that is such a beautiful place. Kenny was my Deputy Team Leader in the RAF MRT also a team Leader later on he and Elaine live in Musselburgh and it was great to catch up. I met Meg the new Collie who follows at Kenny’s heels all day, made me dizzy and it was the break and just what I needed. I was pretty tired after a late night at Glenmore and I find the speaking a hard gig. After coffee in the village we went to the Garth Hotel to watch the rugby a great game and then I went into my Hotel to prepare.
This was an “After Dinner chat” to about 70 all Munro addicts, the meal was special and I was looked after by Anne Butler and her husband both really good friends. I had a 20 minute chat after the meal sounds easy bit it is never easy without slides for support but it seemed to go well. I met Chris Townsend and the “Munro Moon walker” before the meal and many other characters.
I spoke about my early days and introduction to the hills in Galloway and Arran, My father in 1936 as a student minister and spent the summer with the local keeper in Glendessary doing the Sunday Services to remote communities and then coming back over the Munros with the keeper.
Dad was not allowed to carry anything and the Communion Cups bibles etc were all carried by the keeper. He told me these tales of long days on the wild mountains of the west when I was little and I never forgot. He and my Mum gave me a love of the mountains and wild places that are still with me. He took Mum to Ossian Munro bagging for their engagement.
I explained my joining the RAF and the Mountain Rescue at Kinloss in the far North of Scotland as a young lad and visiting the great Mountain areas every week and collecting these illusive Munros. These were great adventures, with superb access to the Estates and meeting the many Keepers who were to become friends over the years. These people knew the hills and helped us so much Mr Oswald in Ben Alder, Mr Robertson in Lochnagar and so e many others. There was no right of Access at this time on the land and we had to work hard to get the trust of the landowners and the Estates. In 1976 I completed my Munros no 148 along with my mate Tom MacDonald in the team on the same day on different hills. It was a proud moment for us at the time and I was presented to a Mountaineering and Rescue Legend Ben Humble at the party to celebrate this achievement.
Pete Mac Gowan the then Team Leader wrote on the back of a framed picture of the day these words”
“On behalf of all the members of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue team , may I congratulate you on a really fine achievement in having ascended An Socach (Braemar) on Sat 13 November 1976. You and Tom Mac Donald on Beinn a’ Chaorrain ( Cairngorms) joined a unique small band of climbers that have ascended all 280 Munros Mountains in Scotland ( figures in 1976) Many thanks for all your hard work with team and you can be justifiably proud of your achievement’s and efforts. Well done and best wishes for many happy and enjoyable days in the Mountain’s” – That was a proud moment for me all these years ago.
Yours aye Pete Mac Gowan/ Ben Humble 17 Nov 1976
The Big Walks across Scotland.
I went on to explain the Big walks in the mid 70’s the North – South Scotland, West – East in winter. South – North and East – West great days on the Munros and averaging about 70 Munro in 18 days at a time across Scotland. Simple kit , nights in remote bothies, long hard days, wet gear always, meeting more keepers, Highland hospitality, wild days on the hills but what an experience and building up a unique knowledge of these amazing mountains and wild places. This to me was an incredible period of my life with wonderful companions and days that will stay with me for ever. Getting to know these great hills and the joy of being in them
My Dog Teallach and the days on the Munros.
Teallach my Dog completed his Munros many years ago and I spoke about him. Teallach had huge feet and his incredible power on the hills. He had massive paws, huge hill days all the classic big hills days so many to mention. His fall over cornice on Creag Meaghaidh in a white out over 1000 feet! I spoke about his epics in Skye on the In Pin and the ridge and his bothy nights by the fire, what a companion. His flights in helicopter, planes and in canoes he was a dog of many talents and I miss him dearly.
Call – outs on Munros.
Many of the Mountain Rescue incidents I have attended were on the Munros and I told a few tales some happy some sad about a few of them. I also spoke a bit about safety on the hills and tell people where you are going no matter how experienced you are. The Munro Society kindly sponsors a few Mountain Safety Lectures and try to do there bit to educate those who love the hills. We who love the wild places at times forget what our families and friends that wait at home worry about us and to be careful.
Keep loving these places and look after them.
When I started there were few paths on many of the Munros and fewer people but it is great to see so many that have the “Munro Bug”. They are a great way to enjoy Scotland and get to know it. I have had so many great days and introduced so many on that long adventure to complete. I still get great joy of a new summit no matter what size of hill it is. I have travelled and climbed all over the world but Scotland’s Mountains are so special and unique.
My great pal Dan Carrol Ex RAF MR Team Leader after he summited Everest in 2001 completed his Munros not long after. He wrote in the SMC Journal that his final summit on Ladhar Bheinn in Knoydart meant more to him than the success on Everest”
I tried to finish with why I love the mountains and read my poem about Shenevall and the great An Teallach. It was a kind audience last and I think it went well, I was tired after a busy few weeks and left everyone about 2300 chatting about the mountains and future visits to these special places.
Now let’s get out on the hill next week
Todays tip No 1 “ Check that Torch” its dark out there!