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Ashley Heeley's West Highland Way Diary
Day 8

Day - 8 - Ben Nevis

We always planned to do Ben Nevis on the Saturday but I must confess I had mixed feelings about it. Having been up twice before, once in good weather and once in terrible conditions and knowing that it is a long grind to get up both Dale and I didn't have a burning desire to do it again. Seeing it again on Friday and how big it is we both knew it would be hard work. Team paraffin being young and daft had already decided to do the Ben by using the path over the Carn Mor Dearg ArÍte. Being old and sensible there was no way I was going over any arÍte however spectacular. Anyway we decided we would do it via the tourist path especially as Bruce and Hilary probably wouldn't get another chance. So Dale dragged me out of the pub early before anymore than 1 whiskey had been consumed, reminding me that we needed an early start and climbing 4406 feet with a hangover is not that clever. Just when things were warming up!

Team taxi lived up to their name by ordering a taxi to take us to the start point at the visitor centre. They were a bit later than planned but it was fine. We met Matt there who was coming with us. Unfortunately Karen and Mike couldn't come as Karen had a huge nasty blister on her heal and they took the opportunity to pick up the car in Glasgow to bring it to Fort William so they could all get an early start on Sunday.

View from the top with cloud lifting
View from the top with cloud lifting

So, the 5 of us set off at about 10am to climb the highest mountain in Britain. With it being a bank holiday Saturday we were not alone as many others were doing the same. As usual there was a mix of people of all ages and abilities but what amazed me again was the stupid inappropriate gear some people had. I'm not surprised the mountain rescue people are kept busy. The weather was looking good with the occasional rain shower that turned to snow and hail higher up. We made it to the half way lake in good time and continued on the slog up to the top. Once you got within a few hundred feet of the top the snow got pretty thick and we had to climb a snowy bank near the top. The best thing was though, as we neared the top the cloud lifted and we were rewarded with fantastic views from the top. We could see the arÍte the paraffin boys would be crossing which looked pretty scary. The snow had made some cornices at the edge which looked nice but were very dangerous if anyone ventured close. There was even a snow bunting, which had made its nest in the old weather station. We lingered for a while on the top as it was so beautiful and took our pictures. The cloud came down again after about half an hour and that was our signal to leave the top. We were all quite euphoric and we were all glad we decided to do it. The walk down Ben Nevis is just as hard on the knees as going up but we did ok and had a break for our sandwiches and were back down for 5pm. So 7 hours not bad for an old sod like me.

At the bottom we went straight into the Ben Nevis pub, which is a converted barn with long wooden tables in. It has a great atmosphere and the beer was flowing quite nicely. Karen and Mike joined us and we were quite settled and getting a little merry. We would have stayed all night as the food looked great but the whole place was booked out for a 40th birthday bash so we had to leave. A shame really.

Karen very kindly gave us a lift back to the B and B and after a quick shower we all met up in Fort William and went for a celebratory currie. Team Paraffin were in ebullient mood after their day and we were 4 pints worth merry so it was quite entertaining. We finished up at The Grog and Gruel for a couple of pints and a wee dram. It was a little sad when we said our goodbyes although we did say we would meet up in the morning to help Matt shop for a present for his girlfriend. We have been giving Matt some sagely advice on les affaires du coer which if he has any sense, he'll ignore.

Before I sign off for today just a quick note on breakfast. Ok although self service it's decent stuff and they have porridge. Porridge has been ever present since the highlands at Kingshouse so perhaps it's a highland thing rather than Scottish thing. Anyway it gets a 7. The snoring was bad though after 2 good nights. Ah well.
 

Photos from Day 8

Sign up Ben Nevis
Sign up Ben Nevis

Mountain next to Ben Nevis (don't know it's name sorry)
Mountain next to Ben Nevis (don't know it's name sorry)

Dale on the path near the halfway lake
Dale on the path near the halfway lake

View on the way up
View on the way up

Half way lake
Half way lake

Dale and me at top
Dale and me at top

Hilary, dale, me, Bruce, and Matt at the top feeling very pleased with ourselves
Hilary, dale, me, Bruce, and Matt at the top feeling very pleased with ourselves

Carn mor Dearg Arrette
Carn mor Dearg Arete

Views from the top of Ben Nevis
Views from the top of Ben Nevis

Views from the top of Ben Nevis
Views from the top of Ben Nevis

Views from the top of Ben Nevis
Views from the top of Ben Nevis

Fort William from Ben Nevis
Fort William from Ben Nevis

View from Ben Nevis pub
View from Ben Nevis pub

Ben Nevis pub
Ben Nevis pub

 

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