Last Munro

Photo: Ian on Ben More.

Helen Rose, Hill Diary, October 2003

As you will know from previous articles, there are 284 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet). It has taken me almost ten years to reach 190 and I while I have been ticking them off in my Munro log, other walkers have completed them. This month, Ian McAdams completed his last Munro having ticked off 284 in 12 years. Congratulations Ian now that you are a Munroist and can join the exclusive Munro Society where the membership is about 3,000! However, Ian has assured me he loves the mountains and intends to keep on walking on them. He has struggled on in all weathers through peat and bog and some challenging scrambles in Skye along with some very wet camping to reach remote Munros but it has all been worth it.

When Ian reached over 200 on the tick list, he considered which Munro to keep to the last and out of consideration for his hill walking chums he selected a Munro that could be combined with a social weekend. The special Munro was Ben More on the Island of Mull. Having completed 283 Munros in May 2003, the date was set to visit Mull for the last Munro in early October. This seemed a good time as we often have pleasant mild autumn weather.

Photo: Ben More Group. We travelled to Oban by car taking about two and a half hours in good time for the ferry to Mull. The ferry takes around forty fifty minutes and the views over to Mull were good. We arrived at the ferry terminal at Craignure and drove onto our accomodation at a private hostel at Aros about five miles from Tobermory. There were fourteen of us comfortably accomodated in the hostel with views over the Sound of Mull to Morvern. The owner of the hostel informed us that there were otters on the shore and we had a field of grey sheep and black and white goats outside the living area.

After settling in we drove into Tobermory, the largest settlement in Mull and famed as the base for filming the Children's show, Balamory. The seafront houses are painted vivid colours and the village is charming. We had dinner from the world renowned fish and chip van which has won a Routiers award. That evening we sang our hearts out with Ian and Jim on guitars. We even had song sheets Jim had provided so there was no excuse for not singing along.

The next day we all climbed Ben More by the tourist route as the weather looked changeable. I have previously written on Ben More in December 2001 so I will not describe the route again. However, the weather was just as windy but this time we also had horizontal sleet and strangely no wind on the top again although bitterly cold. This did not deter Jim from donning a blonde long haired wig and a brilliant pink T shirt to greet Ian on the top and congratulate him on his last Munro. Ian was presented with a Hey Jimmy hat which is a tartan tammy with red hair attached and songs were played from a dictaphone. The champagne was oncorked and the mist cleared to give wondrous views all around the glens and out to sea. We celebrated in Tobermory with dinner and drinks until late in the evening.. The night sky was a carpet of stars with Mars very visible and shooting stars also seen.

Photo: Staffa. The following day we took the boat from the Ulva ferry point on Mull to Staffa in wild weather. It was a white knuckle ride on a fairly small boat for fifty minutes over to the island of Staffa famous for the basalt rock and Fingal's cave immortalised in the music of Mendelsohn. The island is uninhabited and it is stunning to see the cave from the sea and then land and walk around the basalt columns to the cave itself. The cave is around a hundred feet long inside and the sea water rushes in with a foam spray. Standing on the viewing gallery is magical looking up at the basalt columns overhead. Everyone should see Staffa and Fingal's cave once in a lifetime. It was particularly interesting to us as the previous year we had been to the Giants Causeway in Ireland which is effectively the other end of the basalt formation stretching under the sea.

Stephen and Bobby presented Ian with a card inscribed 'Ben More, It's 284' or 'Ben More, hope your foot is not sore' It was touch and go if Ian would manage the last Munro having injured his foot a few days before when he kicked the pavement by mistake thinking it was a ball for the dog to play with!?

A truly memorable weekend. Congratulations Ian on completing the Munros and your next challenge must be in helping me to complete them!

Coming Attractions Braemar weekend(long days in the hills), Lairig Ghru and return to the Lake District

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Thanks to Frances Rickus and Bobby Robb for the photos

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