We adopted Genghis in the summer of 2016, after a friend, Euan (aka the Boss) died suddenly from cancer. Despite it being a huge change in circumstances for working gun dog, Genghis slotted into our family life with ease. He was very obedient and lived to please, a quick learner, he soon adjusted to mountain days rather than shooting days, although he had to be calmed down and trained not to react to wildlife.
His first attempted Munro was Beinn Achaladair at Bridge of Orchy in February 2016. We ditched this day due to Genghis suffering with the snow clinging to his long coat and also at the time, he was still intact and looked very uncomfortable dragging a pair of purple plums through the deep snow.
A few days later we did Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin during a beautiful winter high. I did have to carry him down about 50m when he lost his bottle on the descent. After that experience, we bought him a harness for similar situations.
In the months before we officially adopted Genghis, he racked up a few Munros and repeated some more. I still think that Euan’s widow Pam thought I was just taking him for walks in the park and not onto the peaks of our National Parks.
In the year prior to deciding to do the round, we visited Wales and the Lakes. We also took our annual holidays in the campervan on the continent, visiting and walking in the Austrian Alps, the Dolomites and the Pyrenees. We also loved beach days where I taught Genghis to swim by going in the sea, knowing he would follow me anywhere by then.
I had done over 200 Munros and I had my favourites that I had repeated numerous times. When Genghis turned nine years old at the end of September 2017, we decided that we would go for it, stop repeating and do the Munro round. We set his 11th birthday as our goal for completion, which gave us two years to climb the remaining hills. We aimed to get out at least once a week whenever possible. Lots of friends joined us and we made many, many more friends on our journey over the next two years in all seasons and conditions. I set up Genghis's social media page ‘Genghis the Springer & Friends’ to log his adventures. It grew in popularity and we used this platform to raise money during our challenge for Scottish Mountain Rescue and other charities close to our hearts. We had numerous expeditions and bothy nights. We even spent Christmas Eve at Bendronaig Lodge before doing the two Munros there on Christmas Day. Our biggest multi days were the Fisherfield and Ben Alder Munros.
We kept the Cuillin for the Spring of 2019 and we aimed to have all 11 done within one trip of two weeks. But you can never guarantee plans for the mountains and we only managed to get three of the Munros done in two days, having to stop when Genghis ripped a pad. We returned a further three times before we got them all done. The wind was the only thing that held us back. Genghis did use protective boots for winter days and on Skye, he shredded two sets of these expensive products. By the time we got the Skye Munros done it was the end of May and we only had a few expeditions to do before completion. I so wanted to keep to our plan of our final Munro for his 11th birthday, so we started repeating before completing to keep our fitness up and even started doing Corbetts with our new rescue springer Dougie.
Our final Munro on 30th September 2019 was Sgor na h-Ulaidh. Not the easiest Munro but I choose it because of its location in Glen Coe and it is also known as the forgotten Munro. We had more than 70 friends join us that day and the weather was totally on our side.
Genghis started to slow down in the summer of 2020 and sadly he passed on the 1st of September a few weeks short of his 12th birthday. He will never be forgotten; he was my best friend. We buried him in the garden and I built a cairn above him, friends sent us stones from their adventures and bagging days to adorn it and many came to visit his final resting place.
The challenges of Munro bagging are many and with a canine companion to consider they are even more so. I doubt we would have completed without the help and support of so many people. From the friends and family who accompanied us, shared knowledge, companionship, food and a dram or helped with the logistics of car sharing, to the Skye guide we met by chance who made it his personal mission to ensure we bagged all of the Cuillin Munros. Our achievement is also theirs.