Are you brave enough to do seven munros in 24 hours? Here’s my take on the Ben Lawer Seven…
Are you into bagging munros? Well, how does doing seven in one day sound?
If you’re keen to tick as many munros off the list as possible then it’s worth thinking about. Why do one when you could bag not one, not two, but seven in a day, right? Well, that was my thinking when we decided to do the Ben Lawer Seven – aka seven munros in a day – a few weeks ago.
Let’s be clear: I’m no serious munro bagger. I’d only done two before this trip (read my beginner’s guide to bagging your first munro here) and it’s only something I’m casually interested in. I like walks and Scottish scenery, and I guess there’s some appeal in challenging myself, too. A lil bit, anyway.
It was my partner that suggested the Ben Lawer Seven. I knew it would be tough of course. However, I don’t think I spent too much time thinking about how hard it would really be. Well, ten hours of climbing later and I’d had plenty of time to think about it!
But before we get into that, here are some key details about the Ben Lawers Seven…
What is the Ben Lawers Seven?
The Ben Lawers Seven is a group of munros located closely together in the southern Highlands of Scotland. They’re so close that you can ‘bag’ them all in a day.
How many munros are in the Ben Lawers range?
I think I’ve answered this one already – there are seven peaks in this mountain range.
What munros are in the Lawers range?
- Munros Meall a’Choire Leith (926m)
- Meall Corranaich (1069m)
- Beinn Ghlas (1103m)
- Ben Lawers (1214m) – 10th highest in the UK.
- An Stuc (1117m)
- Meall Garbh (1123m)
- Meall Greigh (1001m).
What mountain range is Ben Lawers in?
Ben Lawers is in the Grampian mountain range.
Where is Ben Lawers?
Ben Lawers is located in the Scottish Highlands to the north of Loch Tay. It’s not too far from nice places to visit such as Aberfeldy and Pitlochry.
What’s special about Ben Lawers?
Well, Ben Lawers is the tenth highest mountain in the whole of the UK. It’s also the first (or the last) in a chain of seven munros that you can do in a day if you’re fit enough, the Ben Lawers Seven. And if you have the smarts to take two cars so there’s one waiting for you at the end.
How long does it take to walk Ben Lawers?
If you do Ben Lawers on its own it’ll take you around 4-6 hours, depending on your fitness level and how often you just want to stop for a break or to take a photo of the scenery.
If you do the Ben Lawers Seven it’s a different ball game. It took us 10 hours, from about 8.30-6.30pm. That felt like longer than the guides that I’d read beforehand, so maybe we were just exceptionally slow. Ha! Most guides said around eight hours as a ballpark guide.
Anything else to know about the Ben Lawers Seven?
There was a bit of scrabbling on the way down An Stuc, which was the fourth munro we did as part of the Ben Lawers Seven. As I said I’d only done two munros before this so I hadn’t had to do any seriously scrabbling before. I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit of squeaky bum time.
There was a moment when I was worried that I or someone else was going to stumble or fall. Luckily, we were fine and I added this to the list of things I didn’t think I’d be able to do at the beginning of the day. I got a sense of achievement, although the bigger emotion was probably relief!
Where did we finish?
We started and finished at the Horn Carver, which is where we parked the car in the morning. It costs £5 and they do take card payments, FYI. If you finish early, it’s just along the road from the Ben Lawers Hotel which we said we were going to drop into at the end of the climb. Didn’t happen.
We parked the car here and then drove along to our starting point.
Ben Lawer Seven: my verdict on doing 7 munros in 24 hours
If you’re a serial munro bagger you’ll probably be able to tick off these seven peaks without a hitch. For me, it was a big test. And it wasn’t just the physical part. That was heavy going, but manageable. I go running a couple of times a week so I felt I could cope with that.
It was more the psychological test that got to me. Normally when you climb a munro you get to the top you get to rest up. You eat your lunch, sip on hot tea out your flask, and snap some pics of the views – and a couple of selfies for good measure, of course.
Then you get to make your way back down the mountain, cheered by the prospect of having done it. You get the adrenaline rush of having ticked off another munro and you get to leisurely make your home, happy with thoughts of what takeaway to order later. Just me?
Why I didn’t like doing seven munros in a day
With seven summits in a day as part of the Ben Lawers Seven, there’s no such hurrah. I think I’d got it into my head that the first one would be the hardest and then the rest wouldn’t be so bad because you’re already at a high altitude. Just a gentle incline, right? A little hill? Unfortunately not.
While we did manage to complete some of the summits really quickly – I think we did one in 45 minutes – each one was still a challenge. You do one, and you’re onto the next. You do the next one, and there’s still another five to get through before you go home.
It’s relentless. There was a point in the middle when it felt like we were already tired but we still had so much to go. The mood completely dropped. All we could do was put one foot in front of the other. But on the inside I’d had quite enough of this bagging munros malarkey and just wanted to go home.
I also felt like we had to keep going because we didn’t have an option to quit. The car was parked at the end point. Added to that was the fact that we didn’t have time to waste. The schedule was pretty tight and I didn’t really want to hang around – I just wanted to get onto the next one.
Not because I was exhilarated by the experience, mind. More because I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. As a result we didn’t exactly savour any of the moments along the way.
Blame it on the weatherman
I should mention here that the weather played a big part in the experience. The visibility was seriously low and it started to rain shortly after the second peak. We had so much ahead of us and we were getting colder and wetter with every single step.
Added to that, we couldn’t see anything at the top apart from clouds so we didn’t even get the reward of the views. Instead of basking in the wonder of the Scottish scenery, we got a whole load of nothing. So that definitely didn’t make us happy at the mountain tops.
Ben Lawer Seven: the aftermath
I was tired for days after the Ben Lawer Seven. My whole body was just exhausted in a way that it just isn’t normally. I go running fairly regularly but this was on another level. I just didn’t want to do anything apart from lie in my bed and watch TV for the whole weekend.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the case. We had a family party planned for the next day that we were all attending, and that was interesting. It was nice to regale my family with our adventures and share the pain, but all I really wanted to do was lie down…
Dos and don’ts for the Ben Lawer Seven
1) Do start early
We started our day early. We left the house at around 6.45am and were ready to start climbing at around 8.30am. However, we didn’t finish until nearly 6.30pm. That meant a long day of climbing and let’s just say I was more than ready to go home by the end.
I would advise getting up as early as you can stomach because, quite simply, the earlier you start the earlier you finish! I hated my alarm going off so early but I was glad we started when we did because we didn’t get home until around half past eight. I know!
2) Don’t pack for summer
We did the Ben Lawers Seven in July. There were a couple of moments when I was packing that I found myself thinking, hmm, do I really need this to take these layers? I was thinking shorts, sunglasses, and sunscreen so I didn’t get burned during a long day. But… I didn’t need any of them.
What I did need was my chunky beanie hat and my extra thick high neck top that I’d only really chucked in my bag for those moments at the top when you pause and start to feel the chill. But, guess what, the weather was terrible and I needed them all, even in the middle of July.
3) Do check the weather
Ah yes, the wonderful Scottish weather. We checked the weather beforehand. Unfortunately, the apps lied to us. It was supposed to be an overcast day in July with a couple of short showers predicted in the middle of the day. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t turn out that way. Not. At. All.
We got through the first couple of munros just fine, weather-wise. However, it didn’t last. It rained nearly non-stop from the second munro until the seventh. Our clothes were soaked by the end and it meant that we couldn’t even sit down comfortably at the top. Although I didn’t really care anymore – I merrily perched on a rock that was only slightly less wet than the ground beside it.
4) Don’t do it in poor visibility
What’s worse than climbing seven munros in the wind and cold? Climbing seven munros in the wind and cold with zero visibility. We summited seven peaks in a ay and we didn’t get a view from a single one of them. It was awful. And such a different experience to normal!
Usually, you marvel at the landscape around you and feel like a tiny little speck amongst the vastness of all the natural wonder around you. With zero visibility it’s almost quite claustrophobic and isolating. There really wasn’t a lot of jubilation at the top of the Ben Lawer Seven, sadly!
5) Do pack a flask
My best purchase ahead of this munro challenge was a flask. My sister has had a flask of peppermint tea the last couple of times she’s been up a munro and I’ve always been insanely jealous. So this time I made sure I popped to Sainsburys the night before to get my own. On such a miserable day as it turned out to be, it was a lifesaver.
The biggest moments of joy I had at the top of those munros were sipping on my tea and munching on my chocolate and banana oat bar. It was great to have something hot and comforting and it give me the push I needed to be able to keep going.
6) Don’t forget extra dry clothes
I daydreamed of sitting in the car on the journey home for a long part of the day. Probably after munro number three to be honest. It had started raining by then, after all! I had a spare fleece in the car and a dry pair of trainers and it made such a difference let me tell you!
However, I didn’t have spare socks and I probably could have gone with a blanket. So I would suggest having a spare jumper or jacket to throw on once you get back in the car along with a chunky pair of socks. It would have made all the difference.
If you have heated seats in the car even better. We did.