A Scottish bagpiper is walking the Munros in memory of a friend who died of cancer
Have you seen a fully kilted bagpiper walking the Munros? Or perhaps you have heard the distinctive sounds of a bagpiping tune as youâ€™ve walked or ridden a mountain bike in the Scottish countryside and wondered where it could be coming from. The chances are it is Grant MacLeod.
For the 27-year-old sports therapist from Glasgow, now known as the Munro Bagpiper, is intent on bagging all 282 Munros and playing his bagpipes at the top of each. If the weather suits he also wears his full Highland dress to the summits of the Scottish mountains with a peak of more than 3000ft.
Grant, originally from Glenelg in the Lochalsh area of the Highlands, has always had an ambition to walk a full round of the Munros but he wanted to do things differently.
He said: “Growing up in Glenelg I spent a lot of time outdoors, playing and walking, but I hadnâ€™t walked to many Munro tops. And, of course, when you live in Scotland you always know that the Munros are there.
“I think that if you like the outdoors then itâ€™s only a matter of time before you start to think about walking these mountains and thatâ€™s the point I reached last year.
“However, I wanted to do something more memorable than just walking to each of the summits and thatâ€™s when I came up with the idea to play the bagpipes at the top of each.”
Munro bagging for charity
Further motivation for Grantâ€™s Munro challenge came when his friend was diagnosed for the second time with leukaemia. His friend sadly passed away in November and the Munro Bagpiper decided that he would raise funds for the Friends of the Beatson, a cancer care charity. (He is also donating money to Heart & Stroke Scotland.)
Grant said: “I saw the care and support given to my friend by the Friends of Beatson and I was very impressed. So I have decided to walk all the Munros in his memory and to raise money for this amazing charity.”
Playing the bagpipes in unusual places isnâ€™t new to Grant. He said: “I like to get my pipes out whenever I can and when I was on a tour of America recently I played them in New York, Las Vegas, at the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. The pipes make such a great show.”
So far, Grant has walked 26 Munros and played the pipes at the top of each. They include Schiehallion, Ben Lomond, Ben Vorlich, Beinn an Dothaidh, An Caisteal and the Five Sisters peaks. One of his favourite bags because of the fabulous views was Beinn Dorain in Argyll.
He said: “I confess I am a bit of a fair-weather Munro walker but thatâ€™s because I want to protect my bagpipes from the rain and snow. I take them apart to carry them in a rucksack and I make use of a dry bag but I still donâ€™t want to be faced with difficult conditions for playing the pipes at the summit.
“I also like to wear my kilt whenever I can and to get a view from the top of the Munros so I am taking my time and making sure I enjoy each walk.
“I plan to walk dozens more Munros this spring and summer and if people see me I hope they will enjoy the tune and maybe donate some money to my fund-raising cause.”