Published 12th February 2022, 14:31

    YOU'VE been rising steadily for more than two hours and now the summit cairn of the Munro is in sight.

    Just 50 feet away, 40 ... 30 ... 20 … then you stop. You take a photo and without actually going on to the pile of stones that mark the top, you turn and head back down again.

    It's a scenario that will have hill baggers everywhere scratching their heads in confusion, a deliberate case of so near, yet so far. Welcome to the mountain life of Bobby Motherwell.

    Bobby is the Munroblagger, a man on a mission to do a full Munro round with a difference, a Munro round in which every peak on the list is climbed but never summited. It could be regarded as the ultimate antidote for those who feel the bagging phenomena has reached fanatical levels of triviality, with endless arguments over which stone or grassy bump on a level plateau is a millimetre higher than the rest. 

    It was an idea sparked by a light-hearted comment during a trip to Arran many years ago. A lover of mountains rather than mountain ticks, Bobby and a friend had reached a high ridge en route to a climb when it was pointed out by other members of their club that the summit of the hill was just a short hop away. The lack of enthusiasm at this news told the story. They decided to pass, the reasoning from his pal being that Bobby simply wasn't 'a getting to the top kinda guy'.

    As an accomplished musician, lyricist and poet, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he views life in the outdoors through a different prism. Climbing was always the focus; from indoor routes in the early days of the Glasgow Climbing Centre, to local crags and then on to the classic routes in the likes of the Cairngorms, Glen Coe and the Nevis Range, summer and winter.

    Like so many climbers, touching the cairn was never the objective, although Bobby admits that with age he has started coming round to the simpler joys of hillwalking. He's even reached that stage where he feels one good day more than makes up for the ten where you wonder why you bothered venturing out at all. 

    That doesn't mean, however, that he is about to veer away from his summit avoidance mission. If anything, it has spurred him on, and he is fast approaching a century of non-summited Munros, the numbers racking up further after a recent outing in Glen Lyon saw him managing to avoid four ticks in one day. 

    Bobby is a big supporter of the Finding Your Feet charity which supports and encourages those affected by limb amputation through a range of inclusive sporting and leisure activities, and his mountain walks provide a fine photo opportunity by displaying a banner spotlighting their great work. He became involved with the group largely through his friend Corinne Hutton, a quadruple amputee, and he regularly assists with indoor climbing activities. It's a cause that is enthusiastically supported by such mountaineering luminaries as Jamie Andrew and Ricky Munday.

    I wondered if his unique Munros ambition might be compromised by default, whether one day he will miscalculate and stumble on to a summit cairn in the mist by accident. There are plenty of examples on the narrower ridges where avoiding the cairn could prove harder than touching it.

    He admits that when it comes to the likes of the Black Cuillin in particular there will be little leeway for error and therefore the need for a great deal of planning. But for every potential problem there is a solution, and one of those is the tried and trusted method of having a friend to accompany him on the hill as a 'spotter', a human early warning system walking ahead for the avoidance of doubt.

    If there is a regret for Bobby in his unusual quest, it is that he is unable to be accompanied by his three-legged canine companion Dennis these days, the doggy years having caught up with his faithful friend, restricting his walkies to lower-level routes.

    I look forward to being around to join Bobby near the summit of his final hill to celebrate his success in becoming the first Munro 'non-compleatist'. But I'm sure he'll understand if I decide to go to the cairn.

    You can follow Bobby's progress athttps://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=munroblagger and if you want to find out more about Finding Your Feet, check out the linkhttps://findingyourfeet.net