Monday, 27 June 2011

Nevis conquered

I have just managed to negotiate the stairs from my bedroom - tin-legged. My quads are aching but the pain from them is masked by that in my calf muscles which feel like they have each been beaten a dozen times with a large stick. I suppose that is to be expected if I am honest. In spite of the regular long distance cycling I manage, Ben Nevis hammers both the "up" and the "down" muscles. 


It was a successful trip. We drove up in eight hours on Friday and arrived in Fort William in sunshine and established base camp in our caravans at the foot of The Ben. After a walk around Fort William for last minute provisions, we managed a few pints and an early dinner in the Ben Nevis Inn (thanks Ray H). 


The seven of us started early on Saturday in pleasant sunshine, although our start was unexpectedly difficult. Our camp site was a little further up Glen Nevis than the official start (by the YHA) and it had it's own steep half-a-mile path to join the main route. That strung us out a little and we quickly found our places amongst the surprisingly large number of walkers. I was expecting hundreds but there were thousands. The first half of the walk snakes around an unpronounceable mountain next to Ben Nevis and takes you to a flat area with a mountain tarn before you reverse your direction and zig-zag up Ben Nevis itself. You lose the grass and greenery half-way up Ben Nevis and the walking on grey rock and scree becomes harder as the temperature drops, the wind picks-up and you enter the cloud. At this point it was necessary to don the waterproofs and zip-up as the moisture in the atmosphere lashed you. 


After about thirty minutes of this I was amazed to see a brilliant whiteness looming out of the grey with the odd name picked out in black stones. It took me a few seconds to realise that this was snow and ice. Just after the longest day and snow and ice still on 25th June! The top wasn't far off and Mrs peeps and I were both pleased to see it. The walk up certainly wasn't the "country ramble" a work colleague had told me to expect and the walk down was, well, painful.


We were first down amongst our party and the pain gave way to relief and elation. A hot shower and cold champagne cheered the mood and we enjoyed a surprisingly good meal in the Cafe Beag on our site. 


Yesterday morning saw the Glen shrouded in mist and Ben Nevis wasn't visible. We thanked our good fortune not to be walking up in this and set-off for home. It was slow run back through Scotland due to the rain and conditions and it took us ten hours (via Cambridge). The temperature climbed fifteen and half degrees celsius from Fort William to London! I am pleased I have done it and would recommend it - a great weekend, especially if shared with friends.



7 comments:

Hungry Ted said...

Well done, Dave!

Did you get those walking trousers?

Dave said...

Hungry Ted - no, jeans were fine although I needed my golfing waterproofs at the top or I would have been very uncomfortable. Next time I will get a pair....

ChicagoAddick said...

Very impressed Dave. Amazed to hear of snow at this time of year. Mrs P does look a bit cold in that photo!

Dave said...

CA - it was freezing, believe me. Too cold, in fact, to accept a can of Vitamin T (aka Tennents) offered by my mates as we passed them off the peak.

ChicagoAddick said...

Cold?! You said you were cold. Turning down a beer.. you sure you weren't ill?

Dave said...

CA - remarkably perceptive. I couldn't believe I heard the words "no thanks" come out of my mouth. It was intuitive and my nervous system must have been on the verge of being overwhelmed by the cold. The thought of my body temperature being reduced any further was obviously too much!

Ray Hall said...

Congratulations

Glad you enjoyed the pub food ...i love it there , and cant wait to get back ..