Molly came into my life as a nine-week-old rescue puppy in April 2006 when I had already climbed 40 Munros. She is of no particular breed. I was looking for a puppy that wouldn’t grow too big and would be agile enough to accompany me on my Munro journey. During Molly’s first year of life, I spent many an hour training her not to go near sheep, cows or any other wildlife.
Molly’s Munro journey began on Dreish and Mayar in Glen Doll in April 2007. Molly grew to love climbing hills - the longer the day the better. If there was a long walk into the hills Molly would ride in a laundry basket attached to the rack on my bike. Molly’s favourite Munros were probably the grassier ones. However, she scaled the rockier ones with no problems. I took her to Loch Katrine prior to ascending some of the rockier Munros and there I would throw a dog toy up the rock face. Molly would literally scale the rock with no difficulty to retrieve the toy. Onlookers were amazed! Molly was an expert on navigating with her nose! Often after we had reached a summit in the mist and if I was returning the same way Molly would lead me back down with her nose. A map and compass were of course in the rucksack.
After Molly’s ‘rock face’ training we realised she was very sure footed on the rockier Munros and she didn’t require any assistance except on Skye where from half way up the Inaccessible Pinnacle she went in a ruck sack.
We did not climb Munros in winter if there was a lot of snow but we enjoyed climbing during all the other seasons. Molly didn’t mind wearing a coat when it is was really cold. Indeed, if the rain was pouring down and there was an icy wind blowing, she would come and ask for her coat to be put on! We chose our hills carefully if the weather was hot. As long as Molly had a river or a lochan to swim in for her cool off she was happy.
Molly and I never camped although I’m sure she would have loved it. To reach the far away Munros we hired a caravan or a holiday cottage for a week at a time. Molly enjoyed all types of travel. The train to Corrour, the little motor boat on Loch Mullardoch and on the ferry to Knoydart and Mull.
Looking back at our climbs I don’t think we have a favourite but the Corryhully Horseshoe and the Sgurr na Ciche trio at Loch Arkaig, along with cycling into Ben Starav and Glas Bheinn Mhor must be rated very highly.
I completed my round in September 2014 on Ben Fhada. I guess it was at the time of my completion that I realised that Molly could also climb all the Munros. In the Spring of 2015, we set out to complete Molly’s Munro journey. These included the so called easier ones like Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), the Cairnwell three and Ben Lomond.
Molly climbed her final Munro in September 2015. She was nine years old. She had taken eight years to complete all 282, although I’m sure if opportunity and time had allowed, Molly would have climbed every single day and completed them in a very short time. We climbed Beinn Ime in the Arrochar Alps with friends and family and combined it with raising over £500 for Scottish Mountain Rescue taking part in the Isle of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Challenge.
This very special dog is now nearly 16 years old and is still climbing some of the grassier Munros.
I climbed many Munros solo; well, when I say solo, I don’t really mean that because with Molly by my side she was the best hiking buddy you could ask for. She never seemed to tire and if I felt like giving up during a long day, I only had to look at Molly running around and looking fondly at me. It was as if she was saying ‘come on Mum - you can do it - never give up!’ My hikes alone with Molly will always hold fond memories. We just seemed to know what each other were thinking and doing.
Sometimes on our way home from a day on the Munros we would stop off at a McDonald’s drive thru. Molly adored this as she would always get to have the last few chips from the box. After Molly’s final Munro we allowed her to have a special treat of a small box of chips all to herself. How she loved that!
Molly aged 15 years, 9 months
Molly will always be remembered as my ‘Munro Dog’. On the way down off the hills she would sit and wait on me a little further down with her back to me as though she was admiring the view. This I called her ‘Hill Pose’; I have many photos of her sitting like that. I guess that will always be my lasting memory of Molly. A rescue dog, a multi- pedigree who brought so much joy and love into my life and was a faithful companion over all the Munros.