The weather for days 9 and 10 was amazing and it was my main chance to explore the Hebridean coast. I got to meet up with a friend and have a chill out day after climbing my tallest mountain.
Day 9 - Ben Nevis
This day started really early, I darted out at 6:30 to head to Fort William. The roads were beautiful and whilst it was too late to see the sun rising, the views of the coast were great and I made some mental notes of places I'd like to photograph later. I reached Fort William on time and stopped off for some breakfast at McDonald's (classic). From there I met Jack at the north face car park (he rocked up in his parents jeep).
We started the walk early, in classic Jack fashion we were aiming to do a more difficult route, which was fair enough for me. We set off and followed some other walkers, but as we stopped to take layers off we quickly lost sight of them. Moving on, we followed the signs for the north face route, but somehow it lead us in a circle back to where we started. It was a bit disheartening but I got over it pretty quick. Jack on the other hand seemed to dwell on it a fair bit (we wasted maybe 20 minutes).
From then on the path was a few miles of gradual uphill walking. Fairly easy. For some reason, every so often Jack and I would break out into song based on something the other said. A lot of Madonna apparently and later on a lot of 'sunshine' related songs.
We hiked steadily on, catching up with a couple of climbers at the rescue station which was approximately halfway to the top. We followed the valley upwards, where the terrain got rougher and windier. As the valley turned behind one of the rocky outcrops, we were faced with a scree slope for a few hundred meters. We made steady progress with plenty of rests, and after what might have been an hour we reached the top of the ridge, scrambling up snow at the very end. By this point we had climbed over 1000 metres. I was definitely feeling it.
Following that was a gruelling climb to the top of Ben Nevis, climbing over a mixture of huge and small boulders, it took a fair while. Behind us the view was stretching further and further. Jack was warning me about false summits just as I thought I could see the top. But luckily it wasn’t a false summit but the real one! The top was pretty flat and covered in snow. There was barely a breath of wind anywhere, it was probably the least windy mountain I had climbed given that it was the highest.
We took some selfies, shots of Jack drinking Irn Bru and had a rest before beginning a long and slow descent (I hate going down), and once we descended to the ridge, we moved along it heading to a second peak called CMD. This featured a lot of precarious clambering on the ridge, which I really enjoyed. The only downside was that we kept losing and gaining height. The views from CMD were the best in my opinion. I find views from mountain tops often pretty boring as a rule, I much prefer the views from partway up as there is a little more going on.
We followed two other walkers down from CMD. They were definitely speedy, but the route was not, it was a really slow and difficult descent, liable to lots of slipping. Eventually we got down below 600m, and were able to get some good speed as the last few miles was a gradual descent. At this point my sole purpose was to get back to my bike as I was absolutely knackered.
It felt great to have ‘beaten’ Ben Nevis. And Jack and I said our goodbyes, I headed into Fort William to get some fish and chips followed by a beautiful ride home in the setting sun.
Longest walk award goes to: Ben Nevis
Highest ascent award goes to: Ben Nevis
Day 10 - Chillin'
I woke up at half 6 as usual, but ended up lazing around until half 8. It was during this time I decided today was going to be my chill day. I showered, and sorted out my gear, cleaned my bike and had a nice breakfast. By 11 I was only just setting out. The weather was great however.
I always say that when I’m travelling my goal is to find a view where I could stay for hours, and then do so. So my plan was to go and have myself a picnic someplace nice, and then later in the day go to the local cinema and watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, which Jack had told me about the day before.
I rode out and made my way to Aldi, got myself some picnic supplies and then some stuff for later on in the cinema. Oban was a bigger town than I expected, with a lot in the way of supermarkets and shops. The harbour area was lovely, and I got some nice shots.
I had some Mac n Cheese at a local wetherspoons whilst catching up on some writing, which was really relaxed and nice. Afterwards, I had myself an ice cream on the way to setting off on my bike. I tried some Scottish tablet and this was good, but didn’t exactly blow me away. Mango or caramel are still definitely up there for me.
I headed down the coast a little way to a place called Arduaine, there were some gardens here, but I didn’t go inside but found a spot in the shade by a path on the way (and thus didn't get charged). Here I was able to enjoy my picnic with a great view of the coast, and it was very peaceful. After too short a time, I needed to head back in time to catch a film. Not quite having enough time just ‘stopping’ to feel like I had achieved my goal. Maybe I’ll will get there some other day.
Once I was back in Oban, I parked my bike right in town by the seafront and headed to the cinema. The film was really great. I loved it. GotG was one of my favourite films for a long long while, so the sequel I enjoyed almost as much. I think with so much exposure to old music, it wasn’t exactly my absolutely favourite section of tracks but it was good. As before it was really exciting, funny and with characters you give a damn about. It made me think a lot about my own writing, which is something that happens whenever I encounter good characters.
That night I headed home in the dark and felt very grateful for my bright headlights, I got home and sorted out my gear whilst doing some writing and a spot of design. Probably one of my favourite days given how chilled out it felt. That day definitely felt like a treat day and its something I should look to do in the future. It was a little break from my travelling routine, and really relaxed time wise which is why I think I enjoyed it so much.