Let me explain. When Margaret is away at her respite Leuchie House in North Berwick twice a year we have this discussion of what will you do while I am away. A 2009 I had this idea I would go to Spain and do a weeks mountain bike riding, off I went and came back with very bruised ribs I felt I could have managed a marathon a day rather than peddling up mountain sides – it was tough. I could of course do some decorating or other mundane task in the house of which there are plenty. Well I decided to go up to Fort William for a few days an eye on the weather forecast and the only good day was Thursday 30 August – book up hotel and a seat on the Jacobite Rail journey to Mallaig on the Friday.
It was my intention to tackle Ben Nevis (Munro 1) height 4,409 with the intention of only going up so far especially as the Ben is usually in cloud most of the year even when it is fine weather all round. Set off in lovely morning sunshine around 0915 along with hundreds of others any later and the car park would have been full. My initial progress was quite good and made half way in about 2 hours over some rocky ground. The weather was still fine and after taking video and pictures I decided to press on higher up from here on as the climb got steeper the progress was much slower with the top never in sight and a little cramp creeping in I had a stop and assessed my options which were not looking good as this point and I had been climbing for 4 hours.
The number of people on the climb made it very friendly and seeing my distress there was plenty of advice, take a rest drink more, one guy said I would need another hour at least to the top, where another gave me some advice to take my time feet as flat as possible and rest a while at the top. Never being a quitter or maybe this was foolish as the getting down was likely to be harder I press on and made the top in nearly 6 hours. The clear day with just rolling high cloud made the climb worthwhile, views as afar as Skye, Rhum and Eigg to the west, Schiehallion to the east, Grampians to the north east and Glencoe to the south all visible all day.
A phone call to Matthew to tell him I had made it and to text his brothers and also to ring my hotel and let them know that I was not going to make my schedule of 1800 return. A good break was taken but off I set around 1630 progress was slow especially after the stop but I ploughed on watch about half way down a helivac taking place higher up, you be surprised how many said they thought it was me but no I was in one piece putting each foot for the dreaded steps from half way down to come. A break at the loch was called for before the steps the time was now about 1800 so it was going to take another couple of hours at my pace as this section with wobble knees and legs was going to be tough. The visitor centre was in sight and arrived at about 2030 nearly twelve hours after I started but completed the highest climb in the UK.
I bet you are now interested in my injuries because they have not been mentioned so far – cramp was an intermittent problem, I stumbled on the steps which bruised the right knee – stubbed my right foot with the large toe taking the force and a toe on my right foot now sore likely blister so apart from that all in one piece. However after a nights rest the legs refused to move very quickly and the heel of my left foot was very painful to put weight on but soldier on as you do walking stick was brought into play to allow me to get around as the train and breakfast where next.
So the brain said I could do it but the body is a different matter – I am not 40 any more but I think I am. just a few of the many pictures
Jacobite Train to come