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 The Furth

David S Brown
The Furth 11 Jan 2008

A landmark day for me today:  I finished compiling the data and descriptions for 'The Furth' for Great Britain and sent the final versions to Bill in the wee small hours.  Bill is well advanced with compiling the MM website database, Gary will be building the addition to the website from this, and I'm looking forward to being able to preview everything online soon at the proofreading/corrections stage; and finally it will go online for everyone.  So, full of enthusiasm, I'm starting a thread to let folks know some information about this upcoming addition to the site.

What are 'The Furth'? 

Well, some of you nearing completion of the Munros (also Corbetts) may wish to register your achievement with the Scottish Mountaineering Club.  If you look at the SMC website you'll find that you can 'compleat' the Munros and/or Corbetts 'With Furth'; and these Furth are mountains within the rest of the British Isles (which therefore also includes the Republic of Ireland) 'furth of The Border'.  There have been papers/articles in the SMC Journal listing what are regarded as the Furth equivalent of Munros, the authorative one being by Hamish Brown (no relation to myself I hasten to add!!), so to become a munroist compleater 'with Furth' on the SMC's books you need to bag those as well.  The Furth equivalent of Corbetts need no such special adjudication since J. Rooke Corbett gave his listings the absolute definition of 2500-2999 feet in height with a minimum reascent on all sides (now known as 'separation') of 500 feet.  (Edit after posting: The SMC's terminology falls short of calling these 'Furth Munros' and 'Furth Corbetts', but others elsewhere have done so.)

Numbers and locations by country

There are a total of 70 Furth recognised by SMC, being 20 Furth Munros and 50 Furth Corbetts.  These are distributed thus: 4 Furth Munros and 17 Furth Corbetts in England; 8 Furth Munros and 14 Furth Corbetts in Wales; 2 Furth Corbetts in Northern Ireland; and in the Republic of Ireland there are 8 Furth Munros and 19 Furth Corbetts.

What is the current Munromagic project going to be adding? 

The format of the MM site uses digital mapping to show waypoints and routes.  At the present time this digital mapping is available for Great Britain but not yet available for Ireland.  Consequently, the current project is to add the Furth of England and Wales.  (Edit after posting and following from comments below: My personal hope is that the Irish ones will follow in a few years when digital mapping for them is available; but in the meantime I'm continuing to collect data for a book which I have long hoped to write on 'The Furth' as perceived by the SMC.)

Slippery slope to 'dilution'?

Lest there be folks out there who fear that adding the Furth may be the thin edge of some sort of wedge to 'dilute' the glories of this Scottish Mountain site, be assured it is not, most EMPHATICALLY not!!  The logic is that the Scottish Mountaineering Club, the long-established and highly-reveered authority on everything to do with Scottish Mountaineering and Scottish Mountaineers, recognise a list of mountains for their award of the title of 'compleater with Furth'.


Gary Wales
Re: The Furth 11 Jan 2008
David your enthusiasm is commendable and we will get the data sorted as soon as we can (within the confines of our resources and the other developments that have been timetabled).

We will not be using the Terms Munro or Corbett when referring to these on the site and they will be an enhancement that sits along side our current content and can easily be ignored by those that don't intend to climb them and feel their MM experience is diluted by their presence.

This will require a bit of thought and we will be glad to hear any feedback on any aspect of this.



Gary Wales
Re: The Furth 11 Jan 2008

The concept to add these came from David's enthusiasm and willingness to prepare the content (which is pretty intensive).

We have no immediate plans to add the Grahams but that may change if someone has the desire to engage with the data gathering and authoring process.

There is certainly no pecking order implied, we had originally intended to leave it as Munros and Corbetts for the time being but the offer of assistance to further the content was too much of an opportunity to pass up.


Bill Wales
Re: The Furth 11 Jan 2008

David Brown has long been interested in writing a book on those hills outside Scotland of comparable height to the Munros and Corbetts. At my request he has prepared the data in a format compatible with Munromagic. Let me explain why we have done this.

1. Munromagic membership is not restricted to Scotland and we would like to give those members south of the border the opportunity to log and comment on their local mountains of comparable height to those they climb in Scotland. Membership also extends to Europe, and those members will also appreciate information on what to climb in England and Wales. Few mountaineers would refuse to climb outside their national bounderies and each year Claire and I travel to the Italian Dolomites which are our favourites.

2. The term "Furth" was used by Hamish Brown in 1997 when he gave the first listing of those hills "Furth of Scotland" of comparable height to the Munros and Corbetts. Furth meaning "Outwith", so the rest of the world is Furth of Scotland and we are planning to introduce only those hills on the same land mass = Britain, although Hamish Brown does list the Irish Furths. The term is therefore not new and has been used by many authors in the sense that Brown used it.

3. To develop Iains analogy above, two years ago I was presented with a bottle of Japanese Whisky. I have no knowledge of the Peterborough Brew but the Japanese make a fine Dram - you would not recognise it as not Scottish. No I do not approve of them imitating the reall stuff, but just because Snowdon is not in Scotland does not mean it is not a fine mountain.

4. Just as you have the choice to concentrate on the Munros and Ignore the Corbetts, you will be able to include or exclude the Furths as you choose. On one will lose anything and some will gain a lot.

Finally the SMC are the authority who regulate what is a Munro and what is not, we are staying withing their published guidance, so lets not try to replace them by arguing about the terminology they have given us.

It may be some time before the Furths appear as major changes will be required in site structure to accommodate them.


Rob Graham
Re: The Furth 11 Jan 2008
Can someone enlighten me as to quite what Sir Hugh did ?  

My understanding is that he explored the Scottish mountains and logged them, but did he define the Munros in terms of they being mountains having so much re-ascent, etc. 

I believe not which implies that the name Munro and definition is something specified by others as a memorial to Sir Hugh.  As such therefore I have no difficulty in understanding the concept of Furth Munros and I also see no difficulty in including the whole land mass of the British Isles as a whole, thereby including Eire.  

If on the otherhand I am wrong and Sir Hugh laid down strict guidelines then I would suspect the SMC has bowed to 'foreign' pressures.

Bill Wales
Re: The Furth 12 Jan 2008

Sir Hugh Munro compiled a list of those peaks over 3000ft in the Scottish highlands which was published in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal of 1891. Therefore, his list is no more meaningful than H.M.Browns list of Furths published in the same journal in 1997, although his task was much greater as Brown had much better maps to assist.

Sir Hugh did not compile the first list which was by Robert Hall in 1882 who compiled a list of 236 peaks over 3000ft in the Highlands which he published in a book entitled "The highland Sportsman and Tourist".

Moreover, Sir Hugh did not get it totally correct, and there have been revisions by the SMC since his original list with "Sgor an Iubhairin" in the Mamores now deleted from the Munros, and several new hills added.

The process of confirming that mountains on the list are qualified to be there continues with improvements in technology and I guess the only meaningful name would be "SMC confirmed 3000 footers"

However the SMC published a book called Munro's Tables in 1921, with revisions in 1953, 1974, 1981 and 1997.  The above facts come from this book and I recommend you get a copy through your local library and read the preface.  The book is:

Munro's Tables and other tables of lower hills, published by the Scottish Mountaineering Trust 1997 ISBN 0 907521-53-3 Edited by Derek A. Bearhop

In conclusion, the term Munro is a convenient one just as Corbett, Donald and Graham are, but lets not get confused about their meanings. There is good reason to include the other peaks in the same land mass i.e. Britian and the terminology of "Furth Munro" is simply shorthand for "Mountain of Comparable Height to those listed by Munro, but located in Britain outwith Scotland"


Rob Graham
Re: The Furth 12 Jan 2008
Thanks Bill - I hunted out my older edition of the tables and I would like to quote part of it as it does give a measure of the man's enthusiasm and fitness.

In February 1889, he shipped to Inverie in Knoydart where the laird put him up at the lodge (he had planned to stay at the inn).  He crossed Mam Barrisdale to Skiary on Loch Hourn where he suffered the other extreme in a filthy hut which could provide little beyond oatmeal and bad whisky.  He then walked up to Glen Quoich Lodge (now under Loch Quoich), lunched with the factor and had a lift to Fort Augustus. The next day he went to Drumnadrochit by steamer, through to Cannich, staying overnight at Guisachan.  From there he traversed Mam Sodhail and reached Shiel Inn via the Falls of Glomach.  From the Inn he had a day on the Five Sisters, then crossed Mam Ratagan and Sgriol to Glenelg. The "Clansman" (steamer) took him to Glasgow and the sleeper train to London.

The only thing we lack is the 'key' to the laird's table as he clearly had.  The day over Mam Sodhail is huge - in the order of 45k which makes me wonder slightly at the accuracy of the report as this is an astonishing distance on a February day.

David S Brown
Re: The Furth 13 Jan 2008

To add to Bill's last posting, and illustrate the definition differences between Munros on the one hand, and the Corbetts and the Donalds on the other, the following is a quotation from the 1984 revision of 'Munro's Tables':

Munro was working towards revised Tables when he died, so we will never know just what he would have changed.  The Munros do not have a clear definition beyond the "Separate Mountain" and "Subsidiary Top" split.  There is no specific reascent laid down as there is with Corbetts.  A certain amount of "character" in a hill has affected the present revision but basically the Munros listed in this edition are the list, created by their founder, who wrote in his introduction: "the exact number cannot be determined, owing to the impossibility of deciding what should be considered distinct mountains".


Neil Cuthbert
Re: The Furth 13 Jan 2008
David - well done on your hard work.  I know a few people who are keen on climbing the high mountains of the British Isles (Graham - this is a geographical expression which includes the Republic of Ireland).

Although Scotland has the most mountains, England and Wales have their own attractions.  I have not climbed any mountains Ireland but there is certainly some stunning scenery there which I was able to experience on my only visit.


Bill Wales
Re: The Furth 14 Jan 2008

I would like to correct my previous post which gives the impression that Hamish Brown used the term "Furth Munro". My last paragraph should have said

" In conclusion, the term Munro is a convenient one just as Corbett, Donald and Graham are, but lets not get confused about their meanings. There is good reason to include the other peaks in the same land mass i.e. Britian and the terminology of "Furth" is simply shorthand for "Mountain of Comparable Height and Character to those listed by Munro, but located in Britain outwith Scotland"

Yes Rob you are correct, when we read about those early pioneers it is remarkable what they acheived, especially given their equipment and transport limitations.

I will be giving my age away when I say that my first pair of boots were leather with metal studs, and I know first hand how remarkably better the equipment is today.


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