Hans wanted to see Edinburgh so… we went to Edinburgh. I was a little worried the kids might not be up to a huge amount of walking, but they were great for the 2-hour guided walk we did (free, donations accepted, courtesy of John of Little Fish. I’m more than happy to plug him and his company. He was a great guide; humourous, knowledgeable and just good fun. He engaged really well and managed to entertain and educate our small group. We bunged him a tip at the end – I hope it was enough!
On his recommendation we checked out the National Museum of Scotland and were really glad we did. It’s packed with stuff ranging from the specifically Scottish to specifically very much not Scottish to space to technology to natural history… We were there for approaching three hours. Suffice it to say that I was the only one who wasn’t asleep in the car on the way back after all the walking. Which is good as I was driving.
We lucked out on the weather and by getting there early on we even got free on-street parking all day (screw you, Glasgow City Council).
Thank you to all those who sponsored me and helped raise money for the St Andrew’s Hospice – a genuinely good cause, with lovely staff who did a great job in organising today’s fundraiser. With 200+ schoolchildren and staff scrambling up the mountain they made sure everyone was accounted for, shepherded and got home safe. Obviously, the Ben Nevis mountain staff also deserve thanks, as do the St John’s Ambulance staff and everyone at the Ben Nevis Hotel
who fed and accommodated us at the end of it all. And even let the staff have a free shower!
To paraphrase the great Douglas Adams – the first 1000 feet were the worst. And the second 1000 feet. They were the worst too. The next 1000 were no fun at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.
Then it started to snow.
Only a slight dusting, but enough to make the stuff which had already been lying somewhat more slippery and the last couple of hundred feet more of a challenge. Up until then, I’d be taking a layer of clothing off every half hour. The sun was out, my balding pate was getting redder and sweat was running down my face.
That last little hike was probably the hardest purely as I had to spend as much time looking for footprints to stand in as I did making sure I didn’t slip backwards more than I walked forwards.
There isn’t a whole lot at the top other than a pair of stone… somethings and a tiny shack. And a great sense of achievement. Oh, and a corking view.
I made it up early enough that the clouds were only just coming in, so managed to see in all directions. The snaps (link at the top) should give you an idea of the incredible scenery on the way up and from the peak.
The journey down was no cakewalk either. As well as the skiddy snow, my legs were somewhat achey. The muscles I used on the way up were very different from the ones I needed on the way down! This was partly a good thing as I had developed a hell of a pain at the top of my left leg – something I’d not had for many years, but that’s because I don’t exercise enough. Going downhill stopped this particular pain, but allowed many others the chance to surface. Joy.
Still, I made it up and back again in a little under 5 1/2 hours, which I’m quite pleased with. The nice staff at the bottom gave me a little medal and – more importantly at that point in time – juice, energy bars and a banana.
A shuttle was taking people back to the hotel where we got to freshen up and fill up on “proper” food before the journey home.
A very hard slog, but all the best things are worth the effort.
If you feel the need to donate to the charity, by all means drop me a quick email or contact them directly via the web link above. I’m sure they’ll be happy to take your money!
It’s not often I’ll ask for cash, but I’m doing a sponsored walk up Ben Nevis on May 6th and I need to raise Â£90 before then. If anyone would be kind enough to sponsor me a few quid, please let me know and we’ll work out how to get the dosh to me.
Obviously, if you’re local then I can just get the cash. Anyone else can probably get it to me via bank transfer or *spit* PayPal. If you’re a UK taxpayer, make sure I get your postcode and house number as well so we can claw more back off the government!
Oh, the cause – it’s St Andrew’s Hospice. Not one I’ve been associated with in the past, but one that the school I currently work at raises a fair bit of money for.