Walking approximately 100 miles in 6 days and reaching the peak of Ben Nevis is bound to have many highs and lows, psychologically as well as literally. Huge ranges of weathers from relentless rain in the night to (surprisingly) unwavering heat during the day meant the highlands really through everything it had at us.
The low moments remain vivid in the memory. One definite low moment was walking 2 miles extra to reach a café because we were so hungry, only for the café doors to be locked shut. When you must cover 28 miles in one day, in 25 degrees, added walking to no avail is not ideal for morale. In our night camping in Fort William, we all went to sleep in steady rain, but rain that was manageable. Two group members were sleeping in a tent that had a hole in one corner, but none of us were aware of this yet. The rain hammered down all night, causing them to wake up in a puddle, shivering uncontrollably. This meant the next night, we had to fit two people in one tent and three in the other. The corners of the tents were still wet from the night before, but with such little room, these icy corners were unavoidable. This meant waking up almost unable to feel our nose and mouth which had been numbed overnight – not fun!
Without these lows, the highlights may not have felt so good. When we reached Ben Nevis’ summit and sat at the highest point in the UK, the sense of achievement was immense. Not just the climbing of the mountain, but the work we’d put in walking all the way from Inverness to Fort William all came to a head.
Now, we look back on the challenge with a strange fondness. I feel this challenge pulled us far from our comfort zones and, for that, we are very grateful to the experience.