The Munros in Winter by Martin Moran is a magnificent and inspirational book that should be read by anyone who has ever climbed an Munro, or who has ever sat in an armchair and dreamed about climbing one. It was first published in 1986 and is an account of Martin Moran's climb of every Munro - all 277 of them as set out in the definitive listing of the time - in the 83 days between 21 December 1984 and 13 March 1985. The Munros are distinct Scottish mountains over 3000ft (914.4m) in height.
At the time, the record for the fastest completion of all the Munros in a single round was 112 days, by Hamish Brown, between April and July 1974. Martin Moran wanted to do the round in winter, which by a strict definition meant completion within the 90 days between 21 December and 20 March. With the help of a hired motor caravan and his wife Joy, who herself climbed 120 Munros during the round as well as supporting the expedition and driving over 3,000 miles through a Scottish winter, Martin Moran beat his target by a week. In the process he walked 1,028 miles and climbed 412,000ft: an average of 13.9 miles and 5,570ft for each of the 74 days of actual walking.
The new edition retains the text of the 1986 original, but adds numerous footnotes bringing aspects up to date. There is also a new prologue discussing how the walk and the original publication "The Munros in Winter" paved the way for Martin Moran's subsequent success as a mountain guide. Its welcome republication by Sandstone Press allows a new generation to appreciate the author's remarkable achievement. The tone is understated throughout, but just occasionally the reader comes face to face with the sense of how superhuman some of the feats recorded actually were. This reviewer once spent most of a summer's day climbing Slioch, a mountain north of Loch Maree in Wester Ross. To read that the Morans pitched up in Kinlochewe with just four and a half hours before the last ferry left from Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye, which proved long enough to climb Slioch, buy badly needed petrol as the Achnasheen garage closed, and still catch their ferry, really brings home the reality of just one tiny part of the journey.
But more remarkable still is the realisation that dawns on the reader that Martin Moran's achievement in 1984/5 can never be repeated. He did more than half the walking on his own, much of it in seriously remote areas, in winter, in an era before GPS and, especially mobile phones: and while two way radios were a theoretical possibility, they were rejected on grounds of weight and convenience. No one will ever again be quite so alone, or have to be so utterly self-dependant, in the Scottish hills as the author was during most of this walk.