I have selected these hills from the ones I have climbed. I don’t think it would be fair of me to recommend hills for beginners that I didn’t have personal experience of. Whilst these might not be the easiest hills in the whole of Scotland, they are the easiest I have climbed and will all provide a fun, challenging day out to those that are tackling some of their first Munro’s.
You can use a scratch map to keep track of your Munro journey, I have this one and its great to keep track of where I have been and where is still left to go. Its not too pricey, either which is nice. I have a list of other ways to track your progress, but the map I have linked to above is my preferred option.
Anyway, on with the top 10 Munros for Beginners, in my opinion!
This is probably the most walked Munro. Its proximity to Glasgow (only about 30 miles or so) makes it one of the easiest hills to get to quickly. This proximity and the fact that it has a path the whole way up, makes it many people’s first choice to start their bagging round. I walked Ben Lomond with my wife, brother and a couple of friends, we all had various degrees of mountain experience and it really didn’t pose too many issues at all.
We ascended the Ptarmigan ridge route, which I would recommend if you are looking for something that avoids the super-highway that has been eroded into the ‘tourist route’ that comes up from Rowardennan. This is however a guide for beginners, and the route from Rowardennan heading north east and then swinging northwards towards the summit is a great day out, its relatively easy to navigate, especially in good weather, and there are several great pubs on the way home. A perfect place to start.
One of the most famous Scottish hills, having a fantastic conical face when viewed from Loch Rannoch. It is also famous as the birthplace of contour lines – who knew?! When walked from the west, Schiehallion looks like a broad ridge that narrows and steepens as you climb.
The initial going is relatively easy underfoot, and you will make good time following the well trodden path towards the real foot of the mountain. As you move eastwards, perhaps about 2.5km from the summit, things start getting a little more interesting. It will happen so slowly so you might miss it, but you will end up on a fantastic ridge with fantastic views in all directions (if you are lucky with the weather). As you ascend, the ridge becomes narrower and narrower. I wouldn’t say that you are going to be scrambling at any point, but there are significant boulder fields near the top, so be prepared for a change in terrain as you get higher.
I walked Schiehallion with a friend a few years ago in autumn and the air was lovely and crisp. We were not lucky with views, but it was a great walk. I do remember being surprised by the size and length of the boulder fields at the top, it certainly made things interesting with our footing and extra care was needed.
This was my second ever Munro, climbed in the late spring in perfect conditions. It was the walk where I fell in love with the Scottish hills, hillwalking and Munro bagging. It has a special place in my walking highlight reel. Climbed from the car park on the shores of Loch Long, climb steeply up a zig zagging path towards the Narnain boulders. These things are genuinely massive. Huge lumps of stone sitting in the relatively flat valley between Ben Narnain and the Cobbler. There are amazing views of the Cobbler as you progress forwards and upwards, its like a horned beast rising to the left as you climb.
We then veered to the right, northwards, up broken slopes onto the summit ridge. After a bit of huffing and puffing, we attained the summit and I was absolutely floored with the view and the scenery.
I would suggest that this is maybe not the best route for beginners our naivety led us this way, we could have walked further up the glen and come onto the summit from the north. Equally, we could have ascended up the southern nose of the ridge which would have avoided the broken and difficult ground. Either of these routes looks better for beginners.
Ben Vorlich, Loch Earn
My very first Munro. Tackled with an inexperienced friend, in the winter, with no crampons, axes or clue as to what we were letting ourselves in for. It was extreme. Our navigation was sorely tested and we many many mistakes, some nearly quite serious. It goes to show that even the ‘easier’ Munro’s can pack a punch in the right conditions.
However, with good planning, a realistic outlook on the conditions and more suitable equipment, this hill is perfect for someone looking to start bagging Munro’s. It is easily accessible, being one of the most southerly Munro’s, as well as not massively steep (although it is still steep in places) and has a clear track to follow. The views into Southern Scotland are brilliant too.
To make into a longer, bigger day, this hill can be climbed with Stuc a’Chroin as well. This a different kettle of fish entirely, and is a lot more scrambling and steep across broken ground.
I tackled the highest point in the UK as part of the three peaks challenge, so my visit to the summit of the UK was brief to say the least. However, I have good and fond memories of the hike up. There are two main routes up ‘The Ben’, the first (and not one that should be suggested to beginners) comes in from the north and swings westwards across the Carn Mor Dearg Arete. Not for the faint of heart that route – it is however on my bucket list ;).
The more usual and less mountaineering route is up what is known as the Mountain path. It is this route that I would say is much more for beginners, although not an easy feat in itself. It starts in the outskirts of Fort William, just to the east. The path climbs steeply, pretty much the whole way up to the lochan before it flattens out ever so slightly. The climb then resumes as steep as before (if not steeper) all the way to the summit plateau.
In good weather, the path is easy to follow and there are usually other people around too. However, the weather at the top can change in an instant. I have friends that have arrived on the walk in rain gear, reached the summit plateau in a t-shirt and then got snowed on. Any time you tackle this hill, from whatever direction, you should always be fully prepared for whatever the hill can through at you. In fog, the navigation can be really tricky, people have died falling from the cliffs here.
Ben Vane, Loch Lomond
This is one of the smallest Munro’s, at 914m, it barely scrapes past the minimum height requirement. It is however a tricky little hill if you get it wrong. Being located in the Loch Lomond area, it sees quite a lot of foot traffic in comparison to some harder to reach places. That has lead to a well worn and eroded path up most of the route. Combine this location and lack of minute by minute navigation and this hill is shaping up to be good for beginners.
My visit here was a quick trip out for the afternoon and I was working at a fast pace in good weather. In fact, once I had climbed up the tarmac road, which is good easy going, past the power station, I didn’t need to get my map out again. It was a case of see the hill, climb the hill. The ground is steep on the ascent, really steep. If you are a bit wary of heights there are certain places where turning around to look at the view can be a bit disconcerting. However they are few and far between and overall it’s a short sharp climb. My full walk report can be found here.
I had a clear summit on my ascent, even though I passed a few people on the way up, you get some great views eastwards and into the hills around you. The weather was also in my favour as it was clear and sunny. It was a little chilly on top, but I genuinely enjoyed it. I came down the exact reverse route passing those ahead of me at speed. And enjoyable easy-ish hill in clear weather and as long as there is not snow lying there shouldn’t be any issues with navigation either.
Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas
The car park at the visitor centre is at 400m altitude, chopping about 30% out of the total height of these hills. Perfect. This makes each hill a little easier than their position in the altitude chart would suggest. You might think that suggesting a walk with 2 Munro summits on it for a beginner is a little odd, but this is a lovely ridge walk in some of the highest land outside of the large massifs of the Cairngorms and the west coast. In fact Ben Lawers is the highest Munro not in either of these areas and is the 10th highest mountain in Scotland.
At 1103m, Bheinn Glas is the first summit that you would reach on this walk. I remember this walk through the nature reserve being pretty non descriptive and a smooth ascent. As the ridge steepens and narrows, you remember you are heading to unusually high ground. I tackled these hills in the snow, and the weather was on our side from just before the summit. Bheinn Ghlas dominates your views forward, so much so that you cannot actually see Ben Lawers even though it is higher. The ground gets rockier towards the summit but if you’re going for the big prize on this walk, then you barely notice it.
As you crest the summit, you get your first view on Ben Lawers, it looks big, imposing and darn right intimidating. With drops to the southern side, it looks every bit a top ten mountain. The route from the summit of Beinn Ghlas is easy and there is a good path down to the col. A steep pull up from here is only broken by a slightly flatter section which then becomes another steep section over rocky ground to the summit of Ben Lawers. And what a summit. High, airy and exposed it’s a wonderful place.
The return from here (I would not advise heading on to the three other summits on the ridge for beginners) is to retrace your steps back to the col and then veer right along the flank of Bein Ghlas back towards the Nature Reserve and the car park. When I visited these hills, we actually camped in the snow a little way down the road from here. Made for an interesting night out…
These hills are great for those finding their feet as the path is good the whole way, and the height you gain from the car park being so high makes them easily attainable for those that want to climb them.
Another small hill, at 931m, Ben Chonzie is the highest point just north of Crieff. It’s quite featureless, so you’ll need to take care with your navigation both on the way up and down. The path starts out as a land rover track and reduces in size as you progress upward. To the point where in places it can be easy to lose, particularly in bad weather.
I recall slogging up here following the path just head down and getting on with it. There are few other notable hills around to maintain interest, although I do remember thinking that there was a definite sense of solitude and remoteness to it. Perhaps that is due to the lack of other hills around.
The summit it relatively easily attained, without any major drama or cliffs/slopes to be aware of, but as I say, without those features to orientate yourself with, it can be easy to lose yourself here. The return leg is back the way you have come following the narrow path as it widens into the Land Rover track back to your start point.
A good safe bet to include in your first few Munro’s as is is easily reachable from the central belt and there are less hazards around, the normal caveats apply though.
Buachaille Etive Beag
Glen Coe. Have you really climbed in Scotland if you haven’t climbed in Glen Coe? Probably the most famous glen in all of Scotland, surrounded by some of the best summits you will find anywhere. This hill consists of two Munro summits, Stob Coire Raineach and Stob Dubh. Nestled between two monstrous ranges either side, these two relatively small summits make up for their lack of height with their positioning and the views they offer. They make for an incredible day out.
This is a great ridge walk. Most people climb the higher peak Stob Dubh first, which is further from the road. A relatively straightforward walk up the glen between our target and Bidean nam Bian is steep, but there is a good path the whole way up. The ground flattens before a fork in the path, where most will head right towards the further, higher top. That’s the way I climbed these hills at least. Climb to the col and head along the narrow but not too narrow ridge to the summit. Looking south from here is spectacular, into Glen Etive and towards Ben Starav.
A return to the col and then a short rocky scramble/walk up to the summit of our second top on the walk Stob Coire Raineach. Personally, apart from the hills right next to this one, I have not seen a better viewpoint in Scotland. The views up Glen Coe taking in the three sisters and Aonach Eagach as well as more easterly to Rannoch Moor are breath-taking. Well worth the effort and a great walk for a beginner that is cutting their teeth on multi-top days out. Good paths, nothing too insane in the terrain and views that are hard to beat. Kind of makes me want to go back again!
Carn Liath on Beinn a’Ghlo
I’ll be honest, I remember this hill as a slog fest. Nothing more nothing less. I did it a few days before Christmas one year and it was brutal. There was quite a lot of snow about and the winds we ferocious. We had originally planned to tackle the whole ridge, but we quickly decided to admit defeat and head back to the car after the first summit.
The path here is quite clear and easy to follow, it has been repaired recently too, which makes it a bit easier. The approach is quite gentle, until you get on the hill proper. As the lowest point on the ridge, it is a relatively easy climb up following the path and a few grouse butts to the summit. The return leg is the same in reverse. A good day out, but I will be visiting again to tackle the whole ridge, probably in the summer.
And there you have it. My top 10 Munro’s for those looking to begin their bagging career. I’ve had a lot of fun climbing these hills over the years, I hope you do too!
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