Munro Bagging in becoming increasingly popular as an outdoor pursuit. So much so in fact, that on warm summer days, there can be many people out in the hills and it can feel crowded.
We are not going to debate the benefits or downsides of this here, but suffice to say that with all these ‘baggers’ out there, I thought it a good idea to write up a little about the Best Ways to Track your Munro Bagging and the ones still left to do. I personally use a combination of some of these to track my climbs, and I will show you how I use them.
1) Wall Tick Map
So this is a real simple one. A wall mounted map that shows the entire of Scotland with all the hills noted on it. There are quite a few versions of this sort of map out there, so you will need to select the one that you like the most in terms of style and content.
The Munros are normally numbered and refer to a key with the full list of all 282 Munros. Sometimes there will also be the regions and their respective heights included too.
As you can see from the above images they are clearly defined, without too much topographical information to confuse matters. Generally a good way to keep track of things.
Wall Tick Map – Negatives
There are a few downsides to these maps. I used to have one myself but I found that due to its size, sometimes things got a little confusing and muddled, the distinctions between the hills was quite hard to see. Also, because it is a paper map, it can get damaged as it is used. I had to get rid of mine because it got ripped and torn and generally looked really beaten up.
Wall Tick Map – Positives
These maps are great for keeping track of your bagging in a simple and concise way. If you are not too bothered about any other information other than whether you have climbed a hill or not, these are definitely for you. They are also relatively inexpensive and look great on the wall if you look after them. A real conversation piece that all of your friends will ask about. Who doesn’t want to be asked questions about hiking?!
To pick up a wall tick map, I would look no further than Amazon who have a good selection of the different brands. Just click on the link above to go to the GuideUs.co.uk version featured in the images.
2) Wall Scratch Map
Now I actually have one of these. It is similar to the tick map, but instead of the key on the side, there are little scratch panels that cover the hill names on the map. The idea here is that once you have bagged a hill, you can scratch off the name. Under the scratch panel the name is still there but it is in a different colour.
So you can see, the gold colour are the ones that I have not yet climbed and all the other colours (as separated by region) are the ones that I have climbed to date. On the map that I have, the hills area colour grouped by region and you can also scratch off the region once you have bagged all the hills within it. There is also an individual hill counter along the bottom to measure your progress to 282.
Wall Scratch Map – Negatives
I think that the biggest negative that I have with my map is that I wouldn’t group the hills the way they are on the map, its a bit annoying to think that you have completed (compleated?) a region only to find that there is an outlying hill that has been grouped within it. That aside, having learnt my lesson from my tick map, I also bought a frame for it. The same downsides for damage and tearing that are true of the tick map are true of the scratch map too. Lastly, some of the colours chosen by the manufacturer are quote similar to the gold colour on the scratch panel. I would think that the one thing you would have to do when choosing the regional colouring is to not choose one too close to the gold. But no, there are a few that you have to double check to ensure are climbed.
Wall Scratch Map – Positives
I’m really happy with my map. I like the visual representation on the map and the action of actually scratching off a hill or a region is very satisfying! The map is well made and looks great. Its a neat and easy way to log my successful hill days. I would highly recommend this option if you are looking for that quick and easy reference when planning which hills to tackle next.
Probably the best known resource for hill walking in Scotland. Walkhighlands.co.uk is the place to go online for anything to do with walking in the UK. Not just Munro Bagging. The amount of information and detail is brilliant for helping with route planning, the images are exceptional and I really don’t have a bad thing to say about the site in general.
Specifically looking at the Munro Bagging elements, once you create an account (free) you can then upload walk reports and images of your hill days as well as mark those hills as climbed. Walkhighlands will then create an interactive map showing all the hills that you have climbed and those left still to visit. I use this site heavily to log my walks and use the mapping tool.
As you can see in the image, it is quite clear which hills are climbed and unclimbed. You can zoom right in to get a close up of the terrain too.
Walkhighlands – Negatives
There is not a lot to say here. The one thing I might say is a negative (and at no fault of the website) is that sometimes when you click on a hill and you see that there are walk reports are available, the detail in them is not there. As I say, not a dig at the website, but it is frustrating when you are trying to research something and you have to scout about for the information that you need. Apart from that, there is nothing else to really say.
Walkhighlands – Positives
You’ll probably have guessed that I am a big fan of this site. I use it extensively. When the walk reports are detailed, they are a great tool to have access to. The mapping feature, all the way to 1:25000 is so useful. I would encourage anyone thinking of collecting any summits (they also catalogue the Donalds, Grahams, Corbetts, Sub 2000s and Wainwrights) to sign up for an account and read the plethora of information available to you. You can also add your own walk reports and images for yourself and others to use in future.
Some of you might laugh that I have included this option in the list – however I am shamelessly a big fan of a spreadsheet. They are infinitely customisable and can help keep track of your hill walking exploits. I started my Munro Bagging with a spreadsheet, but quickly moved to a wall map as it was more visual.
Spreadsheet – Negatives
Spreadsheets are not always as visually appealing as a map or online tool. There is also nowhere to add multiple photos or long form walk reports that you can do with the Walkhighlands tool. However, there is something simple about a spreadsheet, reminiscent of the putting one foot in front of the other mentality that is sometimes required when Munro Bagging.
Spreadsheet – Positives
Spreadsheets are accessible to anyone with a computer (which you probably have if you are reading this). That makes them the base line tool that everyone at least can have. The simplicity of a list with some heights and some dates appeals to me – as that is all Munro Bagging is in essence. Enjoying the hill day is vital, but ticking off the list is important too.
Here is a link to where you can download a spreadsheet for tracking your days out:
5) The Munros: A Walkhighlands Guide
This is the first book in this review. And its a great book. Written by Helen and Paul Webster, the minds behind the Walkhighlands.co.uk website. Its a ‘pocket sized’ look at each hill and region in Scotland and is a valuable tool to anyone planning a Munro Bagging adventure. When I read this book for the first time, I tried to read it like I would any other novel – its a bit dense for that – however as a reference guide its brilliant.
It has a space in my planning arsenal when I have selected the hill(s) I want to attempt and I am looking at the terrain, the area and trying to find out what I can about my target. You could use this book by marking off those hills climbed on the relevant pages or folding down the corners of those completed.
The Munros – Negatives
This book is billed as one to put in your pack, in my opinion it is a bit heavy for that. Its also a bit on the small side when planning your day. If your eyesight isn’t the best, I can imagine it would be quite difficult to read all the detail. It also won’t sit flat on the table alongside a map, which is sometimes a little frustrating.
The Munros – Positives
This book is absolutely full of detail. The route maps are useful and I’ve certainly followed a few of their routes over the years. I like the size, even if it doesn’t sit flat on a table and is quite small, but my wife would hate it if I had loads of A4 walking books on the shelf! Its great as a guide, but I wouldn’t pack it in my bag to use on the hill.
You can pick up a copy of this book here. Its well worth it in my opinion.
6) Munro Logbook and Journal
Another book to look at now, although this one is designed to be written in as a log, rather than a reference guide. Honesty here, I do not have this book, but I do have a couple of pals that do, so my opinion is based on what I have been told rather than personal experience. (Update 08-JAN-21: I now have this book and have reviewed from my own experience here).
The inside of the book is a 282 page log of each of the Munros with space to fill in details such as your start time, total time walked, notes about the weather, who you walked with and various other things.
It looks to be a decent way to log the key components of you hill day all in one place.
Munro Bagging Log Book – Negatives
The formatting of the book is quite basic, with not a huge amount of room for detailed notes and verbose text. I would also like to see some imagery of the hills in question of something to break up the repetitive pages. Scotland’s hills are stunning and it would be great to see some of that here. Similarly, there are no suggested routes or maps, which could be useful if you don’t have access to other logging/planning tools.
Munro Bagging Log Book – Positives
The hills are sorted by altitude, so there is a clear order to enable you to find the hill you are logging, which is quite nice, you often see alphabetical lists or by height, highest first, but having the heights ascending feels like you are building up to something as you progress through the book. I can see the appeal also of the simple format – this is a log book and nothing more. It will absolutely keep your bagging log up to date and ordered as you progress towards that magical 282.
You can pick up a copy of the Munro Bagging Log Book here – its well priced and overall is a great tool to keep your bagging exploits organised.
I couldn’t write this list and not include a blog. It would be hypocritical. A blog is a great way to keep things organised and there are very few limits to what you can do with it. You can in essence design your own log book. I don’t think there is any need for me to explain what a blog is, you’ve found this one and read this far, I’m sure you know what one is by now.
Blogging – Negatives
Blogs can be a bit of a pain to set up. They don’t need to be, but if you are not particularly savvy with this sort of thing (including yours truly) it can be tricky. Getting the format exactly as you want it can also be challenging, but perseverance will work wonders.
Blogging – Positives
The thing I like about using a blog to log and chronicle your Munro Bagging is that you really can make it what you want. I have a list of the Munros that can be used for quick and easy reference, as well as a variety of walk reports and posts about all sorts of things. It allows me to get creative with my log, rather than just a quick tick on a map or in a book and moving onto the next.
Blogs are free to set up too, the only one alongside a spreadsheet, which is always nice.
OK, so to summarise, there are so many ways to log your Munro Bagging climbs, I have missed and left out a few from this list I am sure. I think the key is to pick the way that you like the most and give it a go. Remember, the most important thing is to get out and climb the hills, not obsesses over the minutiae of how to to keep track – although sometimes that can be fun too.
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