- Key Facts
The Munros, Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds & Furths
list of separate mountains, as drawn up by Sir H.T. Munro in the
Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in 1891, was an unfinished
one at the time of his death. His intention was to list the Scottish
mountains of 3000ft and over which were of 'sufficient separation'
from neighbouring tops to merit a listing. He did not write down
a precise definition of what he meant by separation, though the
character of a mountain did enter into it. Through regular use they
have become known as the Munros. The current list of 282 Munros
and 509 tops is from the 2012 revision. Under the metric system,
a Munro has to be 914.4m or higher.
were some anomalies in the original list, obvious to anyone who
regularly hillwalks in Scotland. I remember doing the Beinn Eighe
ridge ages ago, with no knowledge of its precise stature in the
hallowed Munros Tables. I was convinced that it was a three-Munro
ridge, and was very surprised indeed to find later that it was down
as only one. Since then of course, the list has been revised. In essence, there were eight new Munros and one demotion!
And I'm pleased to see that Beinn Eighe is now two Munros.With
further research, and perhaps a firming up of whatever rules went
through Munro's head at the time, it is fairly sure that obvious
errors such as this one would have been corrected. Publishing the
List, and maintaining a benign eye over it through the years, the
SMC took the hard line, and other than promoting/demoting a few
hills due to more accurately surveyed heights by the Ordnance Survey
(themselves not perfect either), they have not strayed from the
Munro Beinn a' Bheithir (Photo: Ken Crocket)
Bonsall also made attempts to arrive at a definition of what is
a separate mountain, in two articles in the SMC Journal (1973, 1974).
A mathematician, Bonsall looked at the separation of a top from
all higher ground, rather than just the separation from higher
tops. He also used as a basis Naismith's Rule, a simple rule which
allows an easy calculation of the time taken to walk from one hill
point to another, for a reasonably fit and steady walker. Naismith's
Rule, in the old Imperial system, goes: 20 minutes for every mile
of horizontal distance, and 3 minutes for every 100 feet of ascent.
In metric this approximates as: 4.5km/hr plus one minute per 10m
ascent. Bonsall then took as a starting point a separation of 30
minutes, and found that using these arguments, there was very good
agreement with Munro's original list.
fact, Munro probably deserves a pat on the head, as, according to
Bonsall, seven Munros should be demoted, and twelve tops promoted.
Not too bad a piece of work by Munro in 1891, using existing maps
and aneroid barometer! As of summer 2003, over 3000 walkers have
admitted their compleations to the SMC, and have been given
a compleation number in the SMC Journal. Many others have probably
finished, but have decided to remain anonymous. The SMC will also
pass out Compleation Certificates to those reporting in, suitable
for framing. See the current SMC Journal for details.(The archaic
spelling of compleation here is fast becoming a convention
with regards to Munroists.)
Rooke Corbett was a district valuer based in Bristol and a keen
member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) in the years between
the two World Wars. He was a distinguished student at Cambridge
University and an original member of the Rucksack Club. Corbett
was a regular attendee at SMC meets, a committee member and joint
editor of the second edition of the Northern Highlands guidebook.
He completed the Munros and Tops in 1930, only the second person
to do so and, more remarkably, he climbed all Scotland's 2000ft
Out of this extensive experience and knowledge came Corbett's eponymous
tables in which he listed all those hills of height between 2500ft
(762m) and 3000ft (914.4m) with a drop of at least 500ft (152.4m)
between each listed hill and any adjacent higher one. In this way
the separation between the Corbetts is more clearly defined than
is the case with the Munros. The fairly large height drop between
Corbetts ensures that they are quite distinct hills, unlike the
Munros where the criterion for separation does not involve a rigidly
fixed drop between adjacent summits. When Corbett died, his list
was passed to the SMC by his sister. As has been the case with the
Munros, the list of Corbetts has changed over the years as a result
of changes in hill and bealach heights measured by the Ordnance
Survey (OS). The present list contains 220 Corbetts.
Corbett Stob Dubh, Glen Etive. (Photo: Ken Crocket)
Corbett's list, along with Percy Donald's list of 2000ft hills in
Southern Scotland, has been added to Munro's tables to create the
book Munros Tables of which the most recent edition came out in 1997. One additional
section has been introduced for the Corbetts, namely Section 0 -
Galloway and the Borders - which does not feature in the list of
the Munros. In addition, a new sub-section has been introduced:
Section 10a for Morvern, Sunart, Ardgour and Moidart, an area of
the Western Highlands which has no Munros and which, if added to
the existing Section 10, would cover a disproportionately large
area of the Highlands. The area of Section 10 of the Munros becomes
Section 10b in the Corbetts book and CD-ROM.
The geographical division between Sections 5 and 6 goes through
the Gaick Pass between the neighbouring hills of An Dun and A
Chaoirnich, which can be climbed most logically together. These
two hills are described together in Section 6.
Corbetts's list includes so many fine and favourite hills that any
hillwalker with much experience of the Highlands and Islands is
certain to have climbed many of them, even if they have not set
out systematically to climb all the Corbetts. The Munros may well
form the mountain heartland of most of the Highlands, but the Corbetts
have their place in the geography of our hills. In some areas, for
example the Cairngorms, they are the outliers of the main mountains;
in others they fill the gaps between them; thirdly (and most impressively)
they are the principal peaks in those parts of the Highlands where
there are few if any Munros.
Hillwalkers who concentrate their efforts entirely on the Munros
will be in danger of missing many of the best of Scottish mountains.
Height alone is no criterion and there are in the ranks of the Corbetts
many peaks of great character, interest and beauty that are the
equal of all but a few Munros. Dedicated Munroists in their travels
will acquire a detailed knowledge of many parts of the Highlands,
but not all. There will be gaps in their knowledge which an exploration
of the Corbetts will fill, and this provides another very good reason
for climbing these hills. Many a remote and unfrequented Corbett
commands summit views of great quality. Exploration can and should
be extended still further by climbing some other lower hills which
are included in the book and CD-ROM, hills chosen for inclusion
by reason of their character and interest.
It would be wrong to think of the Corbetts as lesser
hills, giving shorter and easier expeditions than the Munros. Many
of them, particularly those which rise from near sea-level in the
Western and Northern Highlands and the islands and some of the remote
hills of the Grampians, give climbs that are long and demanding.
Baosbheinn, Beinn Dearg Mhor and Foinaven are just three examples
of Corbetts whose traverses are major hillwalking days. The separateness
of the Corbetts resulting from the 500ft drop criterion means that
there are few instances where three or four or more can be combined
in long traverses such as are possible with the Munros. There is
only one example in the book and CD-ROM where a traverse of more
than three Corbetts is described.
In no part of the mainland do the Corbetts contribute more to the
mountainous character of the land than in the Western and Northern
Highlands. In Ardgour and Moidart, for example, where there are
no Munros, peaks such as Garbh Bheinn, Sgurr Dhomhnuill, Sgurr Ghiubhsachain
and Rois-Bheinn dominate the wild landscape. Just to their north,
Streap, Bidean a Chabhair and Ben Aden yield nothing except
a few metres of height to the big peaks of western Lochaber and
In Applecross, Coulin and Torridon the Corbetts may be rather overshadowed
by the three great mountains - Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn
Eighe, but Beinn Bhan, Fuar Tholl, Beinn Dearg and Baosbheinn are
splendid peaks which equally exhibit the classic features of Torridonian
The Grahams is a collective name given to all the distinct mountains in Scotland which are between 2,000 and 2,499 feet (610 and 761 metres), and which have at least a 150 metre drop between them.
Scottish hills within this height range were previously called Elsies (short for Lesser Corbetts - LCs). They have since been renamed Grahams in memory of Fiona Torbet (neé Graham), who published her own list of these hills in 1992. The original list of Elsies, and the new list of Grahams, were rationalised and combined into a single list, known today as the Grahams.
(Photo: Ken Crocket)
There are 224 separate Grahams, spead over the whole of Scotland - even seven of the Islands contain Grahams.
Note that many of the Grahams are also Donalds.
Hills in Central or Southern Scotland at least 2000 feet high (610m) with a drop of at least 30 metres (98 feet) all round.
Devised by Percy Donald, a listing may be found (along with the Munros and Corbetts, in the SMC Publication 'Munros Tables'. Basically, Tops are elevations with a drop of 100 feet (30.48m) on all sides and elevations of sufficient topographical merit with a drop of between 100 feet and 50 feet (15.24m) on all sides.
Ben Cleuch (Photo: Ken Crocket)
Tops are not more than 17 units from the main top of the 'hill' to which they belong, where a unit is either one twelfth of a mile measured along the connecting ridge, or one 50-foot contour between the lower 'top' and its connecting col.
If this is beginning to give you a headache, the basic result is that with few exceptions, an 80-feet (24.38m) drop determines a 'top', and the 17-unit rule a 'hill'.
What are Tops and Furths ?
The Munroist’s bible, “MUNRO’S TABLES AND OTHER TABLES OF LOWER HILLS” Revised and Edited by Derek A. Bearhop (Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1997) lists all the Scottish Mountains of 3000 feet height and above. The 282 Munros plus 227 Tops give a total of 509 summits.
The Furths comprise those summits which are generally recognised as being the 3000 ft peaks of the British Isles furth of Scotland as follows :-
|| 978 m
|| 964 m
|| 935 m
|| 934 m
|| 1085 m
|Crib y Ddysgl
|| 1065 m
|| 1064 m
|| 1044 m
|| 999 m
|| 994 m
|Pen yr Ole Wen
|| 978 m
|| 924 m
|| 915 m
|| 1010 m
|| 1001 m
|Cnoc na Peiste
|| 988 m
|Caher West Top
|Cnoc an Chuillin
|The Big Gun
|| 932 m
A complete ascent of the Tops or the Furths is an achievement recognised by the Clerk of the List, who looks forward to being notified in writing and recording the details as Amendments.