Greetings from Fort William, the self-styled “Outdoor Capital of the UK”. We are enjoying it here, the scenery and the haggis especially, although the reluctance of pubs to allow youngsters in compared to England, and the menu prices for meals are not quite so enjoyable!
Anyway, after consultation with whatever weather forecasts we could get our hands on, together with Marianne and Liam’s agreement, it was decided we would do our Ben Nevis expedition on Monday 4th August 2008.
We set our alarms for 5am, and breakfasted on Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Rice Crispie cereal bars in the holiday flat, while also preparing (of course) a flask full of Heinz Lentil Soup. We then drove up the road to the Ben Nevis Inn, and started the walk from there.
We were soon into a series of steep stony sharp zigzags. Considering these, and looking at the likely line of any earlier “track”, we wondered how they ever got a Model-T Ford up here! We pressed on over the rocks and came to a pleasant respite of a wide sweeping track with a good flat surface to walk along for a short while.
We were then into the long zigzags that climb up the bulk of the mountain. At the corner of each, Jimmy informed me of the altitude. This was depressing news at 750m, but there was a spring in my stride when he said 1200m! We passed two footpath restoration contractors and had a chat with them. They were working their way down the mountain, and the path was notably easier going after we passed them.
There was a feeling of exhilaration as the path became flatter and the shapes of the trig point and ruined observatory/hotel loomed out of the mist. There were stunning views for most of the ascent, but the summit was in cloud.
We selected a vacant room of the hotel in which to set up, and 40m was the chosen band. Jimmy worked through a large pile-up of 23 stations on 7.118MHz SSB, and then it was my turn. After opening with a pleasing S2S into S5, I worked a further 28 stations on 7.031MHz CW (later on 7.032MHz). After packing away, Jimmy and I called on handhelds and got a couple on 2m FM, both from Fort William, one of whom was the famous Robin GM7PKT.
The SOTA Beam was carried, but not used…
Descent was tiring, but we eventually made it into the bar of the Ben Nevis Inn around 4pm, and enjoyed a well-earned pint!
Cheers, Tom M1EYP