It has been over two and a half years since we first thought that it would be a real adventure to take a year out from work and use the time to complete a round of the Scottish Munros.
There’s quite a bit in the sentence above, but let me start with the Scottish “Munros”.
The Munros comprise 283 mountains in Scotland that are over 3000 feet. I won’t go into the detailed history of the Munro story, but suffice to say that the term “Munro” was coined after Sir Hugh Munro’s great plan of climbing all the 3000 feet mountains in Scotland. Sir Hugh’s original list or table was drawn up in 1891 and several revisions have taken place over the years: with the latest table comprising 283 mountains. Sadly Sir Hugh never saw his own personal completion of “his” list. Nevertheless the idea was born and the first round was successfully completed by Reverend A E Robertson in September 1901. Since then there have been thousands of successful “Munro Baggers”. Some take a lifetime to complete a round, others take a mere 83 days (in winter too). There is even one chap who has completed 14 rounds – now that’s a lot of time off work!
So that’s a bit about the Munros. But why are we interested in them? I guess that we always have been [well I was born in the Scottish Highlands under the shadow of Ben Nevis … the highest Munro of them all!]. We’re also both very keen on outdoor pursuits including climbing, mountain biking and skiing. We have climbed in the Alps (I’ve climbed the Matterhorn and a few other 4000m peaks), climbed and skied in the Dolomites (visited many times in summer and winter) and spent many weekends and holidays mountaineering and biking in North Wales and Scotland.
Our jobs took us south back in 1995 where we both joined a research company called QinetiQ (it was actually called DERA back in those days). Although we both really enjoyed our jobs with QinetiQ, as I mentioned above, just over two years ago we started concocting the seeds of a plan to take a year away from work and travel back to Scotland to have a go at bagging the Munros.
Unfortunately QinetiQ, like many companies at the moment, was not in the position to offer us a year’s “sabbatical” so after some careful deliberation we decided that we should opt to leave its gainful employment. The period of Autumn 2010 was eventually selected as the optimum time to make the move. So at the end of September 2010 we had left QinetiQ in order to begin our adventure.
In the meantime, back in April 2009 we bought a campervan to act as a base for our travels to the Highlands. Well, it isn’t really a “campervan” but a very comfortable motorhome – bought from Tynevalley Motorhomes. More on the ‘van later.
So here we are, unemployed, with only the open road in front of us. Let’s get going!
If only it was that easy …
We actually first had a more local mountain to conquer – it was a mountain of house DIY, ‘van DIY, packing, weighing everything that’s going with us, meeting up with friends, re-packing, deciding what we could really do without and then finally packing again. Oh well, better get started!