LOCAL town councillor Mike Bradley (Green Party, Danefield Ward) was one of the “events” at Otley Walking Festival last week when he talked about Trials and Tribulations of Munro bagging in Scotland.

For the uninitiated a Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 feet (914 m). The best-known Munro is Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles standing at 4,409 feet (1,344 m). Munros are named after Sir Hugh Munro, 4th Baronet (1856–1919), who produced the first list of such hills, known as Munro’s Tables, in 1891.

Whist there are only four mountains above 3,000 feet in England – Helvellyn, Scafell, Scafell Pike and Skiddaw, there are currently 282 in Scotland that are classed as Munros. There were 284, Mick informed us, but following recent recalculations using GPS, two of these have been declassified and are now only Corbetts (mountains above 2,000 feet).

Mick started the talk by showing some of the equipment he has used on his many Scottish expeditions. These included ice axes and crampons which we were to discover later are often essential items for a good part of the year in Scotland, head torch, bivi bags, rucsac, clothing items etc.

Mick has averaged about twenty Munros each year and he calculates that the cost of “bagging” each Munro has cost him between £25 and £35 which includes travel costs and hostel accommodation. John’s first three Munros were in 1987 which he ascended with friends from the York Mountaineering Club but then had a gap of twelve years when the birth of his children and family commitments meant holidays were much closer to home.

However, in 1999 with a number of friends he had a visit to Skye where they climbed a number of Munros on the Cullin ridge and Mick spent quite some time describing the various ascents both on this and subsequent visits to Skye. During the talk, these climbs were very well illustrated with pictures taken by John Armistead who has accompanied Mick on many of his expeditions to Scotland. The quality of these photos added much to the overall enjoyment of the talk and John was also very good at helping Mick out with names of various summits being illustrated at the time. This visit to Skye at the end of the last millennium then started him on the pursuit of climbing all the Scottish mountains above 3,000 feet which he has now completed.

Other areas featured during the evening included Ben Nevis and its satellites, the Cairngorm and Fisherfield areas of Scotland plus other Munros including Ben Macdui the second highest mountain in the UK at 4,295 feet (1,309 m), Beinn Eighe, 3,310 ft (1,010 m) and Liathach, 3,461 ft (1,055 m), both in Torridon and Lochnagar, 3,789 ft (1,155m) near to Balmoral and featured in Prince Charles’s book “The Old Man of Lochnagar”.

For some of the mountain ascents, Mick told us that he and John had used bicycles to cycle up the valleys to mountain bothies as there was no access for motor vehicles and also on a number of occasions they had used boats to cross Lochs to gain access to some of the mountains as this was easier than having long walks from the nearest road point.

This was a fascinating couple of hours particularly for those of us who love walking and climbing mountains in the UK.

John Burland