Day 7 – Ben Nevis

The morning was spent doing some of the odds ands sods that needed my attention. Everything took longer than expected and I still had a long list left when I decided to actually get on with my walking for the day.

The only really memorable bits of the morning were breakfast and a phone call. I had a bowl of rice crispies, four rounds of toast and a ploughmans breakfast consisting of ham, oatcakes and various cheeses. That filled me up. The chat on the phone was with someone from the UNICEF team. They were very encouraging and said it was amazing what I was doing. They asked if there was anything they could to to help my efforts and wished me luck on my journey. The call only lasted about ten minutes but it was really nice to hear from them, and to know they were taking an interest in what I was doing. There are so many other people out there doing far more extraordinary things to raise money, and raising far more than I have. All I’m doing is going for a walk. If I have the energy when I return, I’ll try and organise some sort of welcome home gathering.

With time passing on I walked up from Ben Nevis starting at the visitors’ centre. It seemed somewhat fitting that I was making the end of week one with this walk.

Rather than take the main route up I swung around the mountain, turning left at the loch and making my way to the CIC Memorial Hut. There I met a slow walking guy from Wyoming, we chatted briefly before our paths separated. He was sure there was a path straight ahead. I was keen walk along the ridge, so I turned left and made my way up the steep sides of the hill. I don’t know if there is a proper definition of steep, so decided that from now on it would mean any incline where at times my hands touched the ground. There was one slip where I jarred my left shoulder, but other than that I made it up unscathed.

It’s a beautiful walk along the ridge, which is quite narrow in a couple of places with a good drop either side. I ran along part of it, it had to be done, there’s just something exhilarating about running along the tops of mountains with drops either side. It was only a short run, I’m too clumsy too be careless (and too tired). The ridge was over in no time and I began to make my way up to the summit.

On the way up I met a couple, a guy who was an experienced walker and climber and his girlfriend who was walking up Ben Nevis for the first time. We chatted and he said it was adventurous for me to take that route on my first time up here. I told him of where I had been and what lay ahead, and he apologised for not being in Fort William that evening otherwise they’d have taken me for a drink. I appreciated the sentiment nonetheless.

The top of the mountain was covered in cloud, but it was still a great place to be, besides I had seen a lot of the view on the way up. The cloud also meant that I could no longer spot Wyoming. I hoped he was ok and made it to the top safely, but I couldn’t wait and quickly made my way down.

I ran part of the way down, passing a couple of people who I’d met at the top, they were doing the 3 peaks challenge and had to be down by seven. While following the main route back I found snow. I stopped and made a snowball which I attempted to throw into the distance. To be fair it was a pretty pathetic throw, not that I cared. I’d just thrown a snowball on a hot summer day; I was thoroughly enjoying myself. The 3 peaks people passed me as I plodded down, then I bumped into ginger-bearded guy from Glencoe who, having travelled here by car, was amazed to find me here.

Making my way down I re-encountered one of the ladies from the 3 peaks challenge. Her ankle was sore and she was concerned that she wouldn’t make it back in time. It was a group effort and if she didn’t make it back soon then threat of being left behind looked overhead. I encouraged her to walk fast and that if we pushed on we’d get there. Her sore ankle would have six hours to recover before the next peak. I jogged with her the rest of the way down. As we got close her teammates cheered us on as she barely made it back in time. They thanked me for the support and would have bought me a drink had they not needed to bundle it their cars and head off out of Scotland. I didn’t mind and I merrily bounced back to Fort William, my aches temporarily forgotten.

Next job on the list was food, I purchased over 20,000 calories worth and that will have to keep me going to Ullapool. I then stopped for another ice cream before heading back to my B&B. After writing, drying clothes, cleaning and repairing things the clock struck 1am and it was time for me to hit the hay.