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Bid to add climbing pioneer to sport hall of fame

MOUNTAIN climbing is one of Scotland's most popular pastimes and to many the pinnacle is bagging a Munro, or even all 282 of them.

TOURIST ATTRACTION: Mr Fraser said Sir Hugh Munro laid the foundations for mountaineering and hillwalking in Scotland. Picture: Colin Mearns
TOURIST ATTRACTION: Mr Fraser said Sir Hugh Munro laid the foundations for mountaineering and hillwalking in Scotland. Picture: Colin Mearns

Now the man who gave his name to the Munro, which is a mountain over 3000ft high, could find himself in an elite list of sporting heroes.

Sir Hugh Munro, a one-time Tory candidate and son of a landed family, may have little in common with Jim Baxter, but he may be about to join the footballer in Scotland's sporting hall of fame.

As well as Baxter, the hall of fame includes names like Kenny Dalglish, Sir Matt Busby and Liz McColgan.

Sir Hugh Munro was the first person to chart Scotland's highest mountains, and his list was first published in 1891.

It caused some surprise in mountaineering circles, as many thought that the number of mountains exceeding this height was around 30 at most, rather than the near 300 that he listed. But he never climbed all the mountains on his own list, falling two or possibly three short when he died in 1919.

Now keen hillwalker and Mid Scotland and Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has formally requested that Sir Hugh is inducted into the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame.

Mr Fraser said: "As someone who has climbed more than half of Sir Hugh's Munros, I know only too well the tremendous service he has given to Scottish mountaineering.

"By charting every peak and helping form the Scottish Mountaineering Club, Sir Hugh laid the foundations for mountaineering and hillwalking in Scotland.

"It attracts thousands of ­visitors to Scotland every year and, since the 1980s, an estimated 5000 people have bagged every Munro."

He said that without the ­contribution of Sir Hugh Munro hillwalking and mountaineering might have never had the firm footing it has in Scottish culture, life and tourism.

He added: "There are some fantastic names already in the Hall of Fame, and I think Sir Hugh deserves to be among them."

Mr Fraser has now tabled a motion at the Scottish Parliament and is looking for the support of other MSPs.

Mr Munro was born as the eldest of a family of nine in London in 1856. The family spent part of the year in London, the rest at their estate at Lindertis near Kirriemuir in Angus, which he ended up managing. His love of climbing followed a trip to the Alps.

He was a founder member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1889 and served as its president from 1894-1897.

John Grieve, long-time leader of the Glencoe Mountain Recue Team, said he supported Mr Fraser's move.

He said: "As a climber I would be in favour. I think all climbers would be. Not that Sir High actually climbed them all of course. But he made a major contribution to climbing in Scotland which has developed and grown enormously in popularity since his day."

The Scottish Sports Hall of Fame is a collaboration between sportscotland and the National Museums of Scotland.

It was born from the belief that in Scotland does not always remember and enjoy its past sporting achievements as much as it should. Anyone can vote through the hall's website for their own personal hero to be included.

Not all 3000ft peaks are ­classified as Munros; generally it is the principal summit that is listed and the subsidiary peaks are called tops.

There are also Corbetts, named after John Rooke Corbett, which are hills from 2500ft to 3000ft.

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