Appeal for help: If you use GPS when hillwalking in Scotland, you may be able to help me to build up a database of Munro and Top waypoint GPS data and key waypoints on routes. See link

(revision in progress; apologies for any broken links)

Munro and Munro Top Waypoints

Introduction to the Principles of GPS

What is a Munro?

A Munro is a Scottish Mountain at least 914.4 m high (or 3000 ft in old money). A Top has the same height qualification, but is overshadowed by a Munro. There are 284 Munros and (in this listing) 233 Tops, thereby providing a comprehensive network of off-road waypoints across the Highlands of Scotland. The Scottish Mountaineering Club site will tell you about Sir Hugh Munro.

Why GPS?

Walking in Scotland gets you to magnificent but potentially dangerous country, particularly on those rare occasions when low cloud produces mist on the summits. It is useful to have GPS to point towards the summit of the hill you are climbing, but the true value of GPS is as an aid to map reading. By using the Position page - making sure the GPS unit is set to British Grid and Ord. Srvy and that you have a map with the National Grid - you can positively locate lochans, bealachs and other features.

The summit cairn of Lurg Mhor under conditions when GPS was not a luxury

Whilst this listing of the Munros and Munro Tops should be useful to anyone who travels in the high mountains of Scotland, it will be particularly helpful to Munro baggers, the popular activity of climbing all of the Munros. Some Munros can be climbed as a ridge (in a few cases 7 on a day) but others are a full day's expedition for a single summit. On Compleation (not a spelling error) the addicted Munroist may go on to the Tops and the 221 Corbetts (762 m / 2500 ft), although a proportion of each will already have been visited). The GPS waypoints should also be of use to the more casual walker.

Source of GPS data

Data for the GPS waypoints have been taken from the Scottish Mountaineering Club "Munro's Tables", 1981/90 and 1997 and some other sources (as discussed).  See The Relative Hills of Britain  which also covers many other groups of mountains and hills in the UK and Ireland, including demoted Tops, Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds, Marilyns, Murdos, Molehills, County Tops.....  listed on the Liverpool University Hills page and the listing from Statistical Topics in Hillwalking.  I have also looked at Jim Willsher's Hills Database of Munros, Tops, Corbetts and Grahams. These sources all give 6 figure Grid References, in which a point is in a 100 m square identified by the SW corner co-ordinates. GPS wants 10 figure Grid References; I have added 40 m to both eastings and northings on the basis that the co-ordinates of the NE corner might be used if the point was within 10 m of that corner.

Error: the grid reference is accurate to 100 m, taken from map; this is usually sufficiently precise to locate the summit cairn even in mist. However, some summits were found to differ by 200 m or more between different tables (primarily comparing the SMC and Liverpool data). I can think of some level broad ridges for which such an error would be quite consistent with the map (especially different surveys: by sight or PG plot) if the summit cairn is not mapped. There are also a number of Munros where walkers trying to take a GPS reading at the summit have been unable to decide which pimple (probably both graced by a cairn) is the higher, i.e. the actual summit.  Altitude differences of 3 to 10 m have been found in about 20 cases, with 3 greater than this (20, 28 and 40 m). IMHO, after inspection of the maps, the SMC figure is right in one case, the Liverpool Univ. value in the others. The vast majority of discrepancies applied to Tops rather than Munros.

NEW: GPS waypoints for Corbetts have been added (height 762 to 914 m with re-ascent of 152 m on each side) using data from the Liverpool University page: see GPS page. The GPS listings of the Corbetts follows the same numbering scheme with suffix C and a deer symbol.

Although I have checked the data for errors, relative to the published tables, but no guarantees can be given. The sources sometimes vary by 100 m (only to be expected). In the days with SA (a deliberate error) active, I corrected one top from experience and re-checking the map (but only by 100 m) bringing the SMC figure closer to the Liverpool Univ. value.

With SA removed, a scheme to generate more precise GPS data for all Munros and Tops is planned: see GPS page

Link to Munro GPS data using OS format for Garmin GPS units using PCX5 software. Note: according to Garmin Technical Support, "PCX5 is now obsolete. It is very difficult to get it to run on Windows XP and it is not supported by newer software versions on Garmin products."  PCX5 is a standard format, but arguably remains as good a standard to use as any other.  Looking at various other GPS software products, I have been confused by (a) several PCX5 formats for download 2.00 via 2.06 to 2.10 offered but apparently the same, for waypoints at least (b) different OS map datums for Scotland, England, England, etc (both features on GPS TrackMaker

The data files are also loadable to Magellan and other GPS brands using inter alia GPS Utility software - Link to download GPS Utility, a shareware product written by Alan Murphy.  I am planning to convert to this, as PCX5 does not support my replacement GPS12 (software version 4.60).  It has the merit of fully understanding the OS grid system and retains symbols of uploaded waypoints.

The original files are included on the SMC CD the Munros - the definitive CD-ROM.

There is also a data file for reading into a spreadsheet for your own purposes, e.g. plotting graphs, such as this plot of all Munros and Tops:


Tops are included for completeness; whether or not you are 'picking them off' or visiting them as part of a walking expedition; you often go over or near a top to the main summit. Thus they can be used as reliable waypoints on the route. The tops are based on those listed in the 1990 and 1997 tables; it is planned to keep the 14 that were recently demoted (such as Sgurr Dearg, a waypoint on the way to the Inaccessible Pinnacles), but with a new symbol, a wrecked ship. The 1998 SMC Journal cites a new top, Knight's Peak, which I have added (plus a further 8 new tops).

Of course, the total of 517 summits is too many for a memory of 500 waypoints. Editing the file to produce a new file with a sub-set of the Munros and Tops for the area you are visiting is quite easy with the selected numbering system. This numbering scheme also avoids confusion with automatically created Garmin numbers. In principle, you could load waypoint to your GPS directly, but that is really tedious (OK for one or two intermediate points you might identify on the day, but prone to error on the day, and just imagine entering the 17 Mamore Munros and Tops). This way you can delete the lot with impunity for some other purpose and reload the Munros when they are wanted again.

Relaxing at an overnight camp

Using GPS

At the start of the walk, I usually mark the location of the car (or overnight camp), and junctions, cairns etc. that are may be useful for the return journey. This means there are relatively few points have to be entered manually. In fine weather I then switch the GPS off - but in clag it's benefit is dramatic. It really helps you interpret the map, taking the OS grid reference displayed on the GPS and checking off the location on a map with the National Grid. Make sure your GPS is set to Map Datum: Ord. Srvy GB and User Grid: British Grid, or this won't work. The GPS is an aid to map-reading, not a substitute. If you follow a direct line, you will soon enough walk over a cliff! No proximity waypoints are included.

The waypoint data  is based on the British national Grid and OSGB map datum, and is ready to be used in conjunction with OS maps, notably the Landranger 1:50000 maps. It can also be used with the OS 1:25000 and Harvey's 1:40000 maps in selected areas. If required, this can be converted to Lat/Lon format, and, if required, using the WSG84 datum for best compatibility with some proprietary software using a programme like GPS Utility. This file may also be used in conjunction with road maps and maps with a smaller scale than 1:50000 for travel to the start point of a walk, if the map has a definable grid pattern or Lat/Lon co-ordinates instead of the OS grid. For strict accuracy, an adjustment is required for maps using Lat/Lon co-ordinates if the datum is not WSG84. Generally, maps with a smaller scale than 1:50000 lack the detail required for mountain navigation.

The SMC map of Glencoe is essentially a sketch map showing access routes to rock-climbing crags, and hence not particularly amenable to GPS. The corresponding feature should be identified on the 1:25000 Leisure map from which the location can be ascertained. I suspect the same applies for the SMC map of the Cuillin of Skye. In these cases, GPS is probably of limited benefit for navigation because the Cuillin in particular are mountains that should not be attempted in poor visibility. They have been included for completeness, for escape purposes in case the weather deteriorates and for information (how far to the summit?).

Disclaimer: Whilst every care has been taken in preparing these list, no responsibility can be accepted for any errors or omissions.

Data is provided for private use only; please contact me, Henry Marston if you wish to use the data for commercial purposes; there may be copyright implications for the original data.



A sight not as familiar as I would like on the Scottish roads - our camper van (work intervenes too often).

In place of Spot the Ball, this is the Spot the Tent competition (not the usual non-camouflage variety).

No prizes - but any guesses? Send to:
Henry Marston

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Updated 22 April, 2009