10 Great One-Munro Days

© Dan Bailey -

A big attraction of the Munros is the way they tend to form groups, convenient clusters of summits linked by high ridges that make for stunning long days ticking off peak after peak. But there are a few Munro outliers too, awkward individuals that rise alone, too far from any others to be easily combined. Unless you're super keen, these isolated summits will be the only thing you climb in a day.

You're only getting one tick for a Beinn Sgritheall day... but what a hill!  © Martin McKenna
You're only getting one tick for a Beinn Sgritheall day... but what a hill!
© Martin McKenna

And sometimes one peak is plenty - particularly in the limited light of winter, and if there's also snow on the ground to slow things down. Embrace singledom with these classic lone wolves of the Scottish 3000-er world.


Gentle giant with a great historical back story...

Just one summit, but it's still a big hill day for some  © Dan Bailey
Just one summit, but it's still a big hill day for some
© Dan Bailey

Rising aloof in the heart of Scotland, Schiehallion's blunt cone can be spotted from all over the central Highlands. Thanks to its isolation and symmetry, this peak was famously the subject of an 18th Century attempt to gauge the mean density of the Earth by painstakingly measuring the mountain's gravitational pull on a pendulum. In the process these intrepid early scientists needed to calculate the volume and density of their mountain; and so the contour line was born. Its regularity of form doesn't make Schiehallion the most exciting thing to look at, but looking from it is a different story, with a view as wide as its location, height and independence suggests.

Bla Bheinn, Skye

Like a bit of the Dolomites planted in the sea...

Bla Bheinn and Clach Glas  © Dan Bailey
Bla Bheinn and Clach Glas
© Dan Bailey

When it comes to sheer presence you really can't argue with Bla Bheinn. Looming huge and rocky straight out of Loch Slapin, this is a real beast of a mountain. It's as impressive as any of the 3000-ers on the main Cuillin ridge just to the west, but while they all crowd together Bla Bheinn is much more the loner. Mountaineers might combine it with neighbouring Clach Glas, but it's only the fittest and most committed who'll go further than that. For the majority of walkers Bla Bheinn is very much a one-peak day. You won't find a better viewpoint.

Ben Lomond

Quick access, beginner-friendly, and worth half a day of anyone's time...

Sunset Ascent of Ben Lomond Via Ptarmigan Ridge  © Alex Frood
Sunset Ascent of Ben Lomond Via Ptarmigan Ridge
© Alex Frood, Jan 2015

Easily recognised from much of Scotland's urban Central Belt, Ben Lomond stands alone, occupying a strategic position on the southern edge of the highlands. Quick access and a straightforward path make this a potential half-day hit - a good one to bring beginners on. But it's still a big old ascent from the shore of Loch Lomond. While the standard up-and-back route will almost always be busy, a longer circuit via the outlying summit of Ptarmigan makes for a more complete experience.

Beinn Sgulaird

Quiet location, and stunning coastal views...

Beinn Trilleachan and the Black Mount from the summit of Beinn Sgulaird   © Dan Bailey
Beinn Trilleachan and the Black Mount from the summit of Beinn Sgulaird
© Dan Bailey

Tucked away at the head of Loch Creran, Beinn Sgulaird has a rugged West Coast feel, with a stunning sea view and some interesting angles on the Etive and Glen Coe hills. Since it stands far removed from the big neighbouring peaks, it's hard to include in a logical or manageable larger round, so while keen Corbeteers might consider climbing it with adjoining Creach Bheinn, most walkers will be content with a linear up-and-back. With a start at sea level and several minor peaks to negotiate en route to the summit, it's a slightly bigger day than you might imagine, but as one-tick days go it's one of the best.

Ben Hope

It's as north as Munros go...

Ben Loyal from Ben Hope. There's a lot of empty space up here...  © Dan Bailey
Ben Loyal from Ben Hope. There's a lot of empty space up here...
© Dan Bailey

An isolated peak surrounded by a lot of nothing, Ben Hope really symbolises Scotland's far north, an expansive landscape of peat and water, and strange island-like summits. This most northerly of the Munros is a spectacular wedge of sandstone, with one of the largest mountain faces around, but the standard Munroist's plod up the comparatively unexciting southern flank does little justice to its dramatic geography. A fuller traverse of the hill with an ascent via the airy north ridge comes highly recommended. There's an infamous Bad Step here, but it's easily avoided to give a straightforward climb with just a hint of scrambling.

Ben More, Mull

Get high in the Hebrides...

Heading off Ben More  © Lankyman
Heading off Ben More
© Lankyman, Mar 2013

Often saved for a final Munro, but worth doing far sooner, Mull's Ben More is the only island 3000-er outside of Skye. With its foot, as you'd expect, in the sea, this spectacular peak has a big feel for its modest map height, and a suitably maritime summit panorama. You could plod up and down the standard path, but far better is the traverse via the satellite summit of A'Chioch, a bonus ridge scramble without much difficulty, but spiced with a surprising hit of exposure.

Beinn Bhuidhe

Aloof on the hoof in Argyll...

Ben Lui and Ben Oss from the northeast top of Beinn Bhuidhe  © Dan Bailey
Ben Lui and Ben Oss from the northeast top of Beinn Bhuidhe
© Dan Bailey

Though hardly the most dramatic entry on this list, lonely Beinn Bhuidhe is the perfect example of the Munro singleton, a high knobbly ridge rising in total isolation to offer wide-ranging views. Hidden away up Glen Fyne, the long drive round from more usual hill haunts is followed by an equally lengthy walk-in, so this one's as much about the journey as the eventual destination. If you're making a linear dash for the summit then a bike makes sense, but a longer bike-free circuit gets more out of the hill.

Ben Wyvis

Easy striding on an east coast landmark...

Approaching An Cabar, Ben Wyvis  © Giles Davis
Approaching An Cabar, Ben Wyvis
© Giles Davis, Jan 2019

A giant sleeping sow of a hill that's prominent in views from Strathconon and the Black Isle, Ben Wyvis is a unique Munro in the sense that it belongs far more to the North Sea coast than the Atlantic. A solitary mountain standing far to the east of any rivals, Wyvis offers an unusual aerial overview of the east coast. While it's a massif of several tops rather than a single summit, only one of them has been accorded Munro status - Ben Wyvis - Glas Leathad Mor. Unless you're engaged in some sort of stunt, there's zero chance of bagging a second Munro today - so relax and enjoy the view.

Beinn Sgritheall

West coast drama and one of Scotland's finest views...

Sunrise-Beinn Sgritheall (centre)  © nosweat
Sunrise-Beinn Sgritheall (centre)
© nosweat

Sweeping in one go from sea level to 3000 feet, the massive wedge of Beinn Sgritheall exemplifies the lone Munro, a compact massif that rises island-like, set apart from the complex mountain hinterland of nearby Knoydart and Glen Shiel. With several tops and radiating ridges it makes a stunning little traverse, whether approached from the Glenelg side or from the shore of Loch Hourn. Described by Sir Hugh Munro himself as "perhaps the most beautiful I have seen in Scotland" the eagle's eye perspective over Loch Hourn to Knoydart and Rum is breathtaking - as is the steep slog up from Arnisdale.

Ben Nevis

Saving the biggest til last...

On a clear day, you really can't beat Ben Nevis  © Dan Bailey
On a clear day, you really can't beat Ben Nevis
© Dan Bailey

The grandest hillwalker's route up our greatest mountain may actually be a two-Munro affair, but let's face it, not everyone has the stamina to add Carn Mor Dearg, let alone the head for heights needed to enjoy the CMD Arete. For a lot of people Ben Nevis alone is quite enough for one day - particularly in winter. There's no need for elitism here. The endless zigzags of the Mountain Track may be a bit of a plod, and you have to be prepared to share the path with the whole world and their dog, but the standard route up The Ben still rates as a personal highlight for thousands every year. You won't get higher without leaving the country, after all, and on a clear day the only thing bigger than Ben Nevis is the panorama from the top.


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22 Jan, 2020

An interesting list. However, I would swap Meall nan Tarmachan for Beinn Bhuidhe - the former is much more entertaining. And apart from its location, I'm not sure Ben Hope has much to recommend it.

Damn, I knew I'd forgotten something important! Oh well, Slioch and Tarmachan for the follow-up maybe

22 Jan, 2020

Yes! I rather think that trumps most, if not all, on the list. I remember my first trip up Slioch coincided with (a) the annual Slioch hill race and (b) some chap from Inverness finishing his Munros in the company of 40 or so of his friends. It was quite busy on top.

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