Seeing as I was in Glencoe this weekend and Fort William is as little as half an hour’s drive away, it was only right we took a trip down there, especially since I’ve never really ventured far out in Scotland before. One thing I’ll never get over about the Highlands is the scenery, each time you see it you find it just as beautiful as the first time. I think when you’re such a city girl like me you come to appreciate life outside the city so much more and so I was more than happy to explore somewhere new. Fort William definitely has a lot more going on than Glencoe but just being surrounded by the sound of nature was enough for me, so there was absolutely no fuss made about the lack of high street stores or near by cinemas or well known restaurants.
Towering over the town of Fort William is Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, with a whopping height of over 1300 metres, and despite being a good old Scottish girl, I’d never in all my life seen Ben Nevis for my very own eyes. Although I wasn’t physically fit to climb Ben Nevis, a walk up to see it was a good enough challenge for myself. After coming across ‘walk highlands‘, a website dedicated to accommodation and thousands of free walks in Scotland, we found ‘The North Face of Ben Nevis and the Allt a’ Mhuillin‘ walk. With the walk statistics including a distance of 6.5 miles and an ascent of 630 metres I knew it wouldn’t be easy for someone as inexperienced as me, especially with the only hill having been climbed by myself being the one at university. On the drive to the North Face car park where the walks begins, I was looking at all of the mountains and hills around me starting to panic about what I had agreed to.
It was quite an ascent from the start, with a rather rocky path at times, something which showed my true colours…just how unfit I actually am. I was puffing and panting from the start, feeling my heartbeat all over, and with a bottle of water gripped tight in my hands. The stiffness of wearing a t-shirt, jumper and two jackets may have contributed to my breathlessness, or maybe I’m just making up excuses for myself. Each time I looked up and seen the path rising even higher, a little voice inside my head was telling me to just head back down to the car, but sooner or later I started to pick up the pace and get into it.
I think my motivation to actually do this came about when we reached a resting point with a bench at the edge of the hill corner with some of the most incredible views of the town of Fort William, if that’s what it was like 20 minutes or so into the walk then I wanted to see more and continue venturing up higher. Just sitting down for a moment to catch your breath (if you’re unfit like me) and bring your heart rate down a little allows you to really take in the views, and if this trip away taught me anything it’s that Scotland is truly beautiful and too many times do I underestimate or undervalue the country I live in. You can get so caught up in the busy city, so to go up somewhere like that with nothing but the sound of your own thoughts and having the freshest of air go through your lungs, it can only make you appreciative.
There are 7 stages of the walk and this is classed as a grade 2 walk (slightly harder walk, with paths possibly being indistinct, and navigations skills being a must), so you really should wear the appropriate clothing. With that being said, I’ve never hill climbed in all my life so have never found the need to own walking shoes or hill walking trousers, hence why it couldn’t be found in my suitcase that weekend. That day I had on a pair of skinny jeans from River Island, and boots with the slightest heel from Primark, not what I’d call appropriate for this type of walk, but I’m the type of person who would say no or stop doing something if I felt I was putting myself at risk so the walk went ahead. When you begin to get views of the North face of Ben Nevis you simply can’t stop, you have to see more and get closer.
The further we went up the icier it got, but my boots supported me all the way up there, except for my clumsiness which caused the occasional trip over a rock. You could feel the temperature dropping and the cold wind from the snowy peak brushing against us. We stopped not too far from where the snow properly started as the path wasn’t appropriate for my footwear, but we were happy with where we got to (probably stage 5 of 7 and up over 400 metres out of the over 600 metres the walk takes you up).
This weekend was a first for many things…going to Glencoe (my blog post will be up shortly about that), visiting Fort William, hill walking, and seeing Ben Nevis. I’m definitely going to invest in a pair of walking boots and do this more often as I’ve never felt so free before, and it’s a good way to tire yourself out and take yourself away from technology for a little while. As you can see from the smile on my face in the picture above, it was an accomplishment for me in a sense, as I started off with such a negative attitude and not thinking I could do it, when in reality I got a lot further than I thought, so don’t let your thoughts get the better of you. It was so beautiful up there and I don’t think any view will ever compare, who knows…maybe one day I’ll actually be climbing up Ben Nevis rather than just viewing it.