Scotland's 10 Easiest Munro Days?

With 282 Munros to choose from, baggers have their work cut out. You'll find all manner of terrain on Scotland's 3000-footers, from thrilling scrambling at one extreme, to hands-in-pockets strolling at the other. There may be more glamour in the tough ones, but we can't always push ourselves. There's more to hillwalking than challenge, after all, and sometimes a shorter, gentler day just fits the bill. You won't get many bragging rights with this lot, but you will enjoy some nice achievable ticks on the list.

1. Carn Aosda and The Cairnwell

Looking north to the Cairngorms from Carn Aosda  © ellis1
Looking north to the Cairngorms from Carn Aosda
© ellis1, Jan 2009

With summits less than one crow-flying kilometre from the A93, Carn Aosda and The Cairnwell take undisputed joint top billing in the easiest Munro stakes. Such rounded heathery lumps not be the most inspiring objectives, but there's no arguing with the speed and convenience. From a high start at the Glen Shee ski centre (a full 650m up before even leaving the car park) you could knock them both off inside a leisurely couple of hours. While the immediate surroundings are dominated by the clutter of the ski industry, the distant views of the Cairngorms lift these summits above the mundane.

Glas Maol

photo
Braeriach and Ben Macdui from Glas Maol
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Dec 2014

There are better and more strenuous ways to do it, but the quickest bag for your buck is had, again, from Glen Shee. From the ski centre head east, following the edge of the pistes to gain a track climbing onto the spur of Meall Odhar. From here the dome of Glas Maol presents little challenge. Despite its proximity to civilisation this is a big hill, and its high summit plateau feels a long way, at least in spirit, from the car park.

  • For a bigger day out on Glas Maol, see here

Buachaille Etive Beag

Stob Dubh s last snow   © roger grounsell
Stob Dubh s last snow
© roger grounsell, Jun 2018

Dominated by stern, rocky peaks, Glen Coe is not known for its undemanding ascents; but keeping company with the brooding Buachaille Etive Mor, bristling Bidean nam Bian and the infamous Aonach Eagach is a far gentler mountain, the unassuming Buachaille Etive Beag. Standing as an independent massif, the Wee Buachaille offers two separate Munro ticks for little more than the price of one. It's a steady ascent on an understandably popular path to the col between the two 3000-foot peaks that bookend the main ridge, Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach. Bag either, or both. It may not be a stern test of mountain mettle, but this being the middle of Glen Coe, you're spoilt for dramatic views.

Cairn Gorm

Venus? No, the Cairn Gorm weather station  © Dan Bailey
Venus? No, the Cairn Gorm weather station
© Dan Bailey

Four thousand footer or not, you could be forgiven for treating Cairn Gorm as a hillwalking no-go zone. But venture beyond the ski resort and an entirely different side to the mountain is revealed, from the wild windswept plateau to the spectacular Northern Corries. If ever there was a mountain that exceeds expectations, then this is it. Love it or loathe it, there's no denying that the high access road gives you a big head start on the day's ascent. From here the ascent of the Fiacaill a' Choire Chais ridge, on a decent path, gets you quickly up high and away from the mess of pistes and broken funiculars. Cairngorm's summit dome is easily won. For the bite-sized tick, return the same way. With more time in hand, a long circuit westwards along the clifftops of the Northern Corries, Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain, really shows you what the Cairngorms are about.

Meall nan Tarmachan

Meall Garbh and Beinn nan Eachan from Meall nan Tarmachan - traversing these two is a lot harder than just bagging the Munro   © Dan Bailey
Meall Garbh and Beinn nan Eachan from Meall nan Tarmachan - traversing these two is a lot harder than just bagging the Munro
© Dan Bailey

Assuming it's not blocked by snow, the Ben Lawers access road is a great way to start a hill day, and you can drive its hairpin bends in comfort to around 450m altitude before having even having to set a foot on the ground. Meall nan Tarmachan rises on one side of the road, while on the other, Beinn Ghlas is the most accessible of the many Munros in the Ben Lawers group. Both have a clear and well-trodden path to follow, and neither takes more than a few hours for the round trip. It's a toss-up which of the two is actually the more user-friendly, but as it's a fair bit lower I'll go with Tarmachan. From the summit, the onward route west over the knobbly summits of the Tarmachan Ridge is a lot more challenging, especially in winter. But if you're only bagging Munro high points then your work is already done.

  • For the full day out see here

Stuchd an Lochain or Meall Buidhe

Loch an Daimh and Meall Buidhe from Stuchd an Lochain  © Dan Bailey
Loch an Daimh and Meall Buidhe from Stuchd an Lochain
© Dan Bailey

Standing each side of the windswept reservoir of Loch an Daimh, these Munros are often climbed on the same day, each being a simple there-and back from a high start, following well-trodden paths on generally benign terrain. Meall Buidhe is a grassy lump that's chiefly going to appeal to dedicated baggers, but by contrast Stuc an Lochain (often spelled Stuchd an Lochain) actually has a lot of character, with a small summit poised above its deep, craggy northern corrie. If you're climbing just one, then make it this one.

Mount Keen

Mount Keen from The Goet  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Mount Keen from The Goet
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Sep 2013

Could any Scottish mountain be less appropriately named? There's nothing keen about it, in the sense of sharp, but Mount Keen's blunt cone does have the benefit of an easy ascent. A stand-alone summit in a spacious setting, Scotland's most easterly Munro takes a bit of leg work, but the ground is not exactly challenging, and the distance can be tamed with the benefit of a bike. Two starting points are popular - Glen Esk with its glaciated scenery, and Glen Tanar with its pretty native pine woods. It may be a dull summit, but either of these approaches makes up for it.

Ben Lomond

Last light on Ben Lomond  © Robert Durran
Last light on Ben Lomond
© Robert Durran, May 2017

One of the more accessible Scottish mountains, and among the most popular, with around 30,000 ascents annually, Ben Lomond is the first Munro for many. The majority will choose a linear there-and-back via the busy path from Rowardennan, and although it's a low start and a fair distance to the summit, this is a straightforward ascent on a well-made trail. But, as ever, don't underestimate this hill in winter! For the easy tick, return the same way; alternatively, the round via the Ptarmigan ridge makes for a fuller day.

  • For the Ptarmigan round, see here

Carn na Caim or A' Bhuidheanach Bheag

Descending from A'Bhuidheanach Bheag  © Mal Grey
Descending from A'Bhuidheanach Bheag
© Mal Grey, Mar 2014

Vying with neighbouring Meall Chuaich and the nearby Munros west of the A9 for entry in this article, these rounded hills above the Pass of Drumochter combine quick road access, a high start, and distinctly non-technical terrain, to give you some of the most straightforward ticks on the Munro list. Arguably Carn na Caim and A' Bhuidheanach Bheag have the edge in terms of convenience bagging, thanks to the presence of a vehicle track up to around the 900m mark. Either Munro may be done from here, and while the combination of both is a fairly long day, doing just one makes things much more manageable. The spacious terrain is their chief selling point, but in poor visibility this can turn an otherwise friendly day into a navigational test - so the achievability is very much conditions dependent. And of course there's the bogs...

Fionn Bheinn

Descending Fionn Bheinn, Achnasheen.  © Garry Robertson
Descending Fionn Bheinn, Achnasheen.
© Garry Robertson, Nov 2018

Heading north of the Great Glen, we could have finished with rolling Ben Wyvis, or straightforward Moruisg, but Fionn Bheinn arguably edges it. An undistinguished grassy hump rising in striking distance of the village of Achnasheen, little Fionn Bheinn can be knocked off in a leisurely 4-5 hour round trip. It may not look much from the road, but this Munro saves its attractions for the finish, when its more interesting northern side is revealed and a stunning panorama opens out over the nearby Torridon and Fisherfield hills. Not many easy ticks in that view...


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