- Thursday 28th June 2018
- Fort William including Ben Nevis
The run of good weather here in Scotland has surpassed all expectations so it was time to have a long weekend and make good use of this glorious sunshine.
We didn’t have a so called plan. Sometimes or most of the time if I’m being totally honest I’d rather not have a plan and just go with the flow. So off we went with the shorts, t-shirt and tent packed and drove up north heading to wherever had the highest temperature. We decided on this occasion to let the weather dictate our travelling destination, this could be fun. So after checking the forecast, destination one became Fort William at 29 degrees. Here we come!
Having set of early we arrived in Fort William on a fantastic day with temperatures like they said they would be, around 29 degrees – yip you have read that correct – 29 degrees here in Scotland!
We quickly set up tent and decided we would hike Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.
Now that sounded good to me and with temperatures being so high it felt like a challenge. There is no escaping the sun on this route from beginning to end as there are no trees on this mountain to take shelter behind.
But…and there is a BIG but here…. conquering Ben Nevis in 29 degrees heat starting at midday from sea level wasn’t the only thing on someone else’s mind and my partner in crime decided that “since were all set up in camp now and we have the whole day/night let’s do a circular. We can do another Munro beforehand and then do an epic ridge walk to reach Nevis…it will be great”(read:he had total sunstroke).
For a split second I thought hmmm really and then I heard the words coming straight out of my mouth “yes let’s do that, it sounds like a plan” (read:I was completely insane).
So at midday we set out from our campsite which wasn’t too far from the route into the Nevis Range. We began to follow ‘the tourist’ path but had planned to get off this ‘human motorway’ (ok I’m slightly exaggerating here) as soon as we could. When I say tourist route I only mean this because they have created this man made path zig zagging all the way up the mountain to the summit.
I must say it is well made and I can see why it had to be done in order to protect the mountain from all the wear and tear, the ever increasing pressure on this fragile environment, but it’s not the way we like to climb a mountain…it doesn’t feel natural to us.
With Ben Nevis being the the highest mountain in the UK everyone flocks to her to claim their right! But for people like me that want to escape and just experience nature…well I’d rather go the other way on the path less trodden! But thinking positively it is great to see so many people out on the mountains and enjoying the outdoors.
So we took the first junction we could on the left which brought us to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, everyone else went right, and there it was…freedom…we had the mountains to ourselves again.
My favourite companion was with us as always, Brogan my dog and temperatures were hot so we decided this was a good spot for a drink and a paddle.
Once cooled down we left here heading away from Ben Nevis and then we dropped down again ( I know, utter madness after having just climbed all the way up to this point with Ben Nevis totally right there in front of us) to get to the foot of our first Munro – Carn Mor Dearg.
And right at this point I ate my words! There were no paths, nothing but heather and bracken and we had to just find a way through it.
As if this wasn’t bad enough an army of horse flies decided to try take down the Scot. Blood was shed, words were exchanged but onwards I battled with my trusted companion saying “what flies there are no flies”! The next day he sure ate his words when I woke up looking like something from a zombie movie!!
So then we started the long climb upwards. The views of Ben Nevis from here though were amazing along with the views back towards Fort William.
We hit a stream coming off the mountain and the water was gloriously fresh and cold so we stopped and cooled off here for a bit, then headed upwards some more.
There are two summits to this Munro and once nearing the top it became steep and rugged so things were very slow going.
We hit summit one and could view summit two from where we were but it was up a pretty steep climb. Once we were up there however the views were amazing out towards the horizon but also the views of the ridge walk – the CMD Arete – towards Ben Nevis were utter breathtaking….wow.
We put Brogan on her lead as this ridge was pretty arduous and exposed, it was thin and rocky with either side heading straight down to the bottom.
It was long and scrambly and a bit hard going actually on all of us but especially on Brogan.
Once over this it was another long scramble straight upwards over rock after rock until we reached the summit of Ben Nevis.
It was getting late so we almost had her all to ourselves, we decided to hang around the top and watch the sun set with a night time decent later on.
We saw utter isolation and a breathtakingly beautiful view all around us. The sun set and it felt peaceful.
We were actually gutted we never brought enough gear with us to stay up over night as this evening was warm and calm like no other, it was perfect.
But we had to descend.
We had the sun setting on one side and on the other side the biggest brightest moon I had ever seen.
Pictures could not capture the beauty.
We managed to get a good bit down with the light from this amazing moon and then we were in darkness but it felt good, head torches on, we plodded ahead and reached our tent at 2.19am tired and weary after a 13 hour day on the hills…but…what an adventure!
Where will the sun take us to tomorrow I wonder?