As a 17 year old, Hugh Munro went to Stuttgart to learn German, fell in love with the Alps, and began climbing.
In 1880 he went to South Africa for health reasons after having had pleurisy, and became private secretary to the Governor of Natal.
He served with an irregular cavalry force during the Basuto war in the British territory of Basutoland (present-day Lesotho), fought between Cape Colony forces and Basotho chiefs over tribal rights. He returned to manage the family estate in Angus. In 1885 he stood unsuccessfully for parliament as the Tory candidate for Kirckaldy Burghs.
Sir Hugh was 58 at the outbreak of the First World War, and volunteered to help the Red Cross. In 1918 he went to southern France with his daughters to open a Red Cross canteen for French troops.
The following year he caught a chill that became pneumonia, and died aged 63.