Penny was a terrier cross who arrived as a rescue pup aged 12 weeks in June 2008. She climbed her first Munros in June 2009 during a Moray Mountaineering Club meet on Skye when she summitted Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor, Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Mhic Chionnich via Collie’s Ledge. Prior to this she had already climbed over 40 Corbetts.
She completed her first round of Munros on Ben More where she was joined by 23 friends, the round took five years and four months.
I climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle with Penny in the rucksack on my back and once we had done this, I realised that the rest of the Munros were achievable for her. We achieved it by eventually getting her into the rucksack and secured inside with a karabiner attached to her collar and the rucksack so she couldn’t escape. We climbed the short ridge, belayed from the summit.
Penny wasn’t just a Munro bagger. She ran the 95-mile West Highland Way race in a time of 23 hours, 26 minutes and she completed the 53-mile Highland Fling race 4 times.
Penny also completed Tranter’s Round twice, a 43-mile run across the 18 Munros circling Glen Nevis and in her lifetime climbed 881 Munros, 88 Corbetts and 204 Grahams. As she became more experienced, we learnt that two days in a row on Skye were enough for her paws. We took the bypass paths on Liathach and An Teallach and occasionally she required a small lift now and then on some of the tricky sections, but very rarely as she was a true mountaineer.
Penny was a hardy wee dog, she wore a fleece jacket in winter when it was really cold but hated having it taken on and off, otherwise she took the extremes of weather in her stride and nothing really bothered her.
Sometimes we used a bike and Penny just trotted along beside me, but I always made sure I kept at a reasonable speed so she didn’t struggle to keep up.
We camped a few times and Penny just snuggled up against me in my sleeping bag for warmth. On one occasion we were camping high on the summit of Beinn Airigh Charr and Penny started growling in the early hours, I peeked out of the tent to see several wild goats grazing quite happily around us. After spending a night in Shenavall bothy, I got up and had breakfast but couldn’t find Penny, she was inside my sleeping bag, right at the bottom and I ended up having to lift the bag and shake her out!
Completing the Munros alongside Penny was very emotional for me, but for her it was just another day. She was a loyal, faithful, obedient companion who never refused to go for a walk, even though she never knew if it was going to for one mile or thirty! She rarely needed to be on a lead apart from when we were near traffic.
In May 2015 Penny and I embarked on our journey to complete the Munros in 100 days. We started on Ben More on Mull and continued on foot and bike and completed 100 days later on Ben Wyvis. We walked 1,176 miles and cycled 141 miles with 145,186 metres of ascent. Our longest day was on the 18 Munro Tranter’s Round in Glen Nevis which we completed in just over 25 hours. We spent 55 nights in my campervan and the rest in bothies or my tent.
Our most challenging days were descending Cruach Ardrain where we had to traverse across steep patches of solid snow and whilst climbing the steep cliffs on Bidean a’ Choire Sheasgaich, Penny slipped as I was lifting her up and fell backwards, luckily I managed to catch her. One of the most difficult parts of the round was wrestling Penny into the rucksack for her climb up the Inaccessible Pinnacle but after three failed attempts and a minor flesh wound on my chin she finally settled down inside the bag and we succeeded! Penny made light work of the rest of the Cuillin ridge but I had already decided not to ever put her through the trauma of the Inaccessible Pinnacle again. She didn’t like wearing the harness I bought her specially for the Cuillin; the harness had a handle on it to lift her up any difficult sections but she refused to move when she was wearing it.
Completing the round was a very humbling experience made even more memorable to have undertaken it alongside Penny, my ever faithful hound and companion.
She truly is a Wonderdog and unique in having completed two rounds of Munros.